Building Frequently Asked Questions


When Do I Need a Permit?

Generally, a permit is required to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, convert, or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical, or plumbing system. For specific requirements, read more about electrical, plumbing, mechanical and structural permit and inspection requirements.

I am Planning a Remodel of My Home. Why Should I Get a Building Permit?

This is a question many people may ask themselves when planning alterations to their home. A decision not to get a permit could be very costly. Some homeowners are finding when they try to sell or refinance their home, prospective buyers or lending institutions want proof that alterations are in compliance with local codes. Without a permit and inspection on record, there is no proof. The homeowner must then apply for a permit with no guarantee that the remodel will meet the codes, and they face the possibility that the remodel must be redone or removed. This is costly and frustrating and could cause delays in refinancing or a lost sale of their home.

Do I Need a Permit for Everything I Do to My Home?

No, not all items require permits. The following is a list of items that do not require a permit.

Note: Even though a permit is not required, the project must still comply with all the applicable construction and zoning codes.

Permits are not required for the following when related to single family homes which do not encroach over a subsurface drain system, public utility easement, or into required setbacks from property lines:

  • Buildings
    • Non habitable one-story detached accessory structures (storage structures, playhouses, etc.) provided the floor area does not exceed 200 square feet or a height of ten feet measured to the highest point
    • Fences not over six feet high, unless required for barriers around swimming pools (a swimming pool barrier is required for any swimming pool, hot tub, spa or similar structure intended for swimming, recreational bathing or immersion that contains water over 24 inches in depth)
    • Retaining walls that are not over four feet in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall unless supporting a surcharge (a surcharge is a load on the wall that is created by any one of the following:
      • any height wall supporting a slope behind it that exceeds 4:1 (i.e. every 4 feet horizontal the slope exceeds 1 feet vertical)
      • any combination of a fence on top of a retaining wall that exceeds four feet in height
      • any height of retaining wall where a separate fence is closer to the retaining wall than the height of the retaining wall (i.e. a fence located less than three feet to a three-foot high retaining wall, fence located less than two feet to a two-foot high retaining wall etc.)
      • any height retaining wall supporting a surcharge (i.e. a retaining wall built adjacent to a structure or parking area where the surcharge of the structure or vehicle parking would be imposed on the wall)
    • Water tanks supported directly upon the ground if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons, and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2 to 1
    • Private concrete sidewalks, slabs, and driveways not more than 30 inches above adjacent grade and not over any basement or story below
    • Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, countertops, interior wall, floor or ceiling covering, and similar finish work
    • Prefabricated swimming pools that are less than 24 inches deep
    • Swings and other playground equipment accessory to a one or two-family dwelling
    • Window awnings and patio covers supported by an exterior wall not over 120 square feet in area
    • Nonbearing partitions (walls) except when such partitions create habitable rooms (habitable rooms are those used for living, sleeping, eating or cooking)
    • Replacement or repair of siding not required to be fire resistant
    • Retrofitted insulation
    • Masonry Repair
    • Porches and decks where the floor or deck is not more than 30 inches above grade and where the edge of the porch, deck, or floor does not come closer than three feet to property lines
    • Gutters and Downspouts
    • Door and window replacements (where no structural member is changed)
    • Reroofing except in wildfire hazard zones or where replacement or repair of roofing does not exceed 30 percent of the required live load design capacity and is not required to be fire resistant
    • Plastic glazed storm windows
    • Framed-covered accessory buildings not more than 500 square feet in area, one story in height, or closer than three feet to the property line where the structure is composed of a rigid framework to support tensioned membrane that provides a weather barrier
  • Electrical
    • Repairs and maintenance: A permit shall not be required for minor repair work including the replacement of lamps or the connection of approved portable electrical equipment to approved permanently installed receptacles.
  • Mechanical (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning)
    • Portable cooking or clothes drying appliances
    • Replacement of any minor part that does not alter the approval of the equipment or make such equipment unsafe
    • Portable heating appliances
    • Portable ventilation appliances
    • Portable cooling appliances
    • Steam, hot, or chilled water piping within any heating or cooling equipment regulated by the code
    • Other portable appliances such as freezers, washing machines, refrigerators, portable barbecue grills, and so on
  • Plumbing
    • The stopping of leaks in drains, water, soil, waste, or vent pipe; provided however, that if any concealed trap, drainpipe, water, soil waste, or vent pipe becomes defective and it becomes necessary to remove and replace the same with new materials, such work shall be considered as new work, and a permit shall be obtained and inspection made as provided in the code.
    • The clearing of stoppages or the repairing of leaks in pipes, valves, or fixtures, and the removal and reinstallation of water closets (toilets) provided such repairs do not involve or require the replacement or rearrangement of valves, pipes, or fixtures.
  • Repairs
    • Application or notice to the Building Official is not required for ordinary repairs to structures, replacement of lamps, or the connections of approved portable electrical equipment to approved permanently installed receptacles. Such repairs shall not include the cutting away of any wall, partition, or portion thereof, the removal or cutting of any structural beam or load bearing support, or the removal or change of any required means of egress, or rearrangement of parts of a structure affecting the egress requirements; nor shall ordinary repairs include addition to, alteration of, replacement or relocation of any water supply, sewer, drainage, drain leader, gas, soil, waste, vent, or similar piping, electric wiring, or mechanical or other work affecting public health or general safety.

When Do I Need a Building (Structural) Permit?

A permit is required to construct, enlarge, alter, move or demolish any one- or two-family dwelling or related structure. For example:

  • Add A Room
  • Build, demolish, or move a carport, garage, or shed of more than 200 square feet
  • Finish an attic, garage, or basement to make additional living space
  • Cut a new window or door opening, or widen existing openings
  • Move, remove, or add walls
  • Apply roofing when all of the old roofing is removed and new sheathing is installed
  • Build a stairway
  • Build a retaining wall more than four feet (1.22m) high
  • Build a deck more than 30 inches (.76m) above grade
  • Put up a fence more than six feet (1.83m) high

What Information Will I Need to Get a Permit?

You will need the following information:

  1. The address of the property
  2. A description of the work proposed
  3. The owner's name, address, and phone number
  4. If a contractor is doing the work, the contractor's name, address, phone number, and state license number
  5. Three sets of plans for new construction of homes or for remodeling that clearly show all work on the building and where the building sits on the property
    • Typical plans include a site plan, foundation plans, floor plans, roof framing plans, elevations, and cross sections showing construction details

Who Must Review My Project?

An Oregon-certified plans examiner will review your plans to ensure the proposed project meets the requirements of the State or Oregon Residential Specialty Code. If additional information or changes are necessary, you will be contacted by phone or mail and asked to furnish the information.

Who Gets the Permit?

As the owner of a one- or two-family dwelling, you can hire a contractor registered by the Construction Contractors Board or you can get the permit and do the work yourself. An immediate family member, a friend, neighbor, tenant, or other relative can legally work on your one- or two-family dwelling only if the work is not for compensation.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Permit?

A plan review generally takes up to two weeks for one- and two-family dwellings. Time frames can change, depending on the complexity of the project and the completeness of the information you submit with your application.

When you submit your plans, you will be asked to pay a fee. You may also pay the additional fees at the time the permit is issued.

When your plans have been reviewed, stamped "approved" and signed, one set will be returned to you with your permit.

When Can Work Start?

When your permit has been issued and one set of your approved plans returned, work can begin. The permit and plans must be on the job site and available to the inspector.

To change your plans from what was originally approved, you must show the changes on two additional sets of plans and take them to the City of Woodburn Building Division. Do not mark on the approved set.

How Do I Get an Inspection?

Any work done under a permit must be inspected by a certified inspector. you may call the inspection request line at 503-980-2443 upon completion of any phase of the project. A minimum of 24 hours notice is usually required for inspections.
When you call, you will be asked for the permit number, homeowners name, contact name, contact phone number, project address, type of inspection needed, and date that the inspection is desired.
Unless all of the work is outside and accessible, an adult needs to be at the site to provide access for the inspector

Do I Need a Mechanical Permit

Think Safety First!

For your safety, your family's safety, and the safety of future occupants - and to avoid expensive mistakes - do not do any mechanical work that is beyond your skill level

What is Mechanical Work?

Mechanical work on one- or two-family dwellings includes work on heating, cooling, or ventilation systems, including bath vents and woodstoves. Installation, alteration, or repair of gas piping between the meter and an appliance or other equipment, including all liquefied petroleum gas piping, is also considered mechanical work.

When Do I Need a Mechanical Permit?

A permit is required to do the following:

  • Install or change any part of a heating or cooling system that must be vented into any kind of chimney, including unvented decorative appliances
  • Install a woodstove, fireplace insert, pellet stove, or related venting
  • Install, alter, or repair gas piping between the meter and an appliance (indoors or outdoors)
  • Install bath fans, dryer exhausts, kitchen range exhausts, and appliances that are required to be vented

How Do I Get a Permit for Mechanical Work?

Permits are issued by the City of Woodburn Building Division

What Information Do I Need?

Plans are generally not necessary to get a permit to do mechanical work on a dwelling. You will be expected to briefly describe the work proposed. For example, describe the appliance you intend to install and whether you will be installing a new vent, new ductwork, etc. If you are installing new gas piping, know how many outlets for future gas appliances you need.

If applying for a permit to install or replace a woodstove or fireplace insert, you will be asked whether the appliance is certified to meet Department of Environmental Quality emission standards. The inspector will check the label on the stove or stove insert at inspection. If you are not sure whether the appliance is certified to meet emission standards, ask the dealer or a mechanical inspector.

A mechanical inspector or office staff member can discuss your project with you. If all the necessary information is available, you can usually leave with your permit.

Mechanical permit fees are based on the number of appliances, chimneys, vents, or gas piping outlets that will be installed. Permit fees are paid when the permit is issued.

How Do I Get an Inspection?

Any work done under a permit must be inspected by a certified mechanical inspector. You may call the inspection request line at (503) 982-5250. A minimum of 24 hours' notice is generally required for inspections. When you call, you will be asked for the permit number, homeowner's name, contact name, contact phone number, project address, type of inspection needed, and the date on which inspection is desired.

Unless all of the work is outside and accessible, an adult needs to be at the site to provide access for the inspector.

I am Planning to do Mechanical Work on My House or Duplex. What Are Some Do's and Don'ts?

As the owner of a one or two-family dwelling, you can hire a contractor registered by the Construction Contractors Board to do the work, or you or an immediate family member can do it yourself. A friend, neighbor, tenant, or family relative cannot legally receive compensation for the work unless he or she is a CCB-registered contractor.

Can I Install Natural Gas Piping In or Around My Home?

A licensed plumbing contractor may legally install natural gas piping.

If you have questions regarding a contractor's eligibility to perform work on your property, call the Construction Contractors Board at (503) 378-4621.