What are Building Permits & Do You Need One For Remodeling?

by | Aug 27, 2021 | Whole Home Remodel

interior of a building with big windows

Deciding to remodel your home can be both exciting and a little stressful. There’s a lot to think about, and you want to make sure everything runs smoothly and according to plan so you can get started enjoying your new space as soon as possible!

While most people enjoy picking out cabinets and looking at paint colors, there are other aspects of planning a remodel that may seem a bit more daunting, especially if you’re new to the process.

In some instances, you may need a building permit to remodel your home. That’s why it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with your city’s rules and regulations ahead of time so you know what to expect.

What Are Building Permits?

kitchen with hardwood floor, white cabinets, and blue backsplash

Residential building permits are official documents issued by local government agencies authorizing homeowners (or their contractors) to move forward with construction or remodeling projects. The purpose of these permits is to ensure that the work is done safely and in compliance with local building and zoning codes.

When Do You Need a Permit?

green home in portland with lots of autumnal leaves

Permits are generally required for projects that involve additions or substantial changes to your home’s structure or mechanical systems. Permitting requirements can vary greatly depending on where you live.

In Portland, OR, building permits are required for the following projects, among others:

  • Building a new home
  • Building, adding, or demolishing a room, garage, or attached shed
  • Finishing a basement, garage, or attic
  • Adding, moving, or removing walls
  • Building a carport or adding a porch or patio cover
  • Building a fence more than seven feet tall
  • Adding, enlarging, or reducing the size of windows or doorways
  • Adding a bathroom
  • Building a deck more than 30 inches high


Many remodels also require zoning permits, residential mechanical permits, residential electrical permits, and residential plumbing permits. It’s always a good idea to check with your local city office to make sure your project is completed in full compliance so you don’t get fined.

How Do You Acquire a Permit?

Wearing gloves, N95 masks, or full body protection is always an integral part of the remodeling protocol.

In most cases, your contractor will be able to assist you with the permitting process; they’ll likely be familiar with your city’s requirements and will often know what permits you need based on the details of your remodel.

If you live in Portland and need to acquire the permits yourself, you can apply online or drop them off in person if you have an appointment.

When Do You Not Need a Permit?

Not all remodeling projects require you to obtain a permit, and if you’re simply completing minor repairs or performing routine maintenance, you may be able to forgo the application and inspection processes. However, it’s important to keep in mind that, even if your project doesn’t require you to obtain a building permit, the work must still be completed in accordance with the building and zoning code requirements.

Examples of projects that don’t typically require a building permit include:

  • Painting the interior or exterior of your home
  • Repairing or replacing siding
  • Building a small, detached shed in your backyard
  • Replacing wall, floor, or ceiling covering
  • Installing storm windows
  • Patching your roof
  • Replacing windows and doors (assuming you’re not changing the size of the opening)
  • Building stairs, a patio, or deck

If you’re unsure whether or not you need a permit, always contact your local permitting office or check with your contractor to be sure.

Who Can Do The Work?

Contractors are required to have a license in order to work on construction or remodeling projects in the state of Oregon. Always make sure your contractor is licensed through the Oregon Construction Contractors Board (CCB) before signing any contract.

Construction-savvy homeowners can also do the work and sign the trade permit. Just keep in mind that, by law, any electrical work must be done by a licensed electrical contractor.

Navigate the Permitting Process With the Help of Portland’s Premier Designer & Remodeling Contractor

Contemporary Kitchen Remodel

Having a qualified and experienced contractor by your side who knows the ins and outs of the business and is familiar with your city’s building code and inspection requirements can make all the difference when it comes to securing permits, streamlining the process, and making your remodel as smooth and stress-free as possible.

L Evans Design Group is here to help you every step of the way, from conception to completion. With over 25 years of experience, our team has the skills and know-how to complete your project to its full potential. Get in touch today to get started. We can’t wait to hear from you! 

Get in Touch!

Let us help you with your next full home, kitchen, bathroom, custom addition, or aging-in-place redesign project today! 

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