Commercial Alterations - Tenant Improvements
Information for any project that alters a commercial building with no increase in floor area (out or up), no structural changes and only minor changes to the exterior.
Table of Contents
A building permit is required for any project that alters a commercial building with no increase in floor area (out or up), no structural changes and only minor changes to the exterior.
If your project includes increasing the footprint of the structure or altering any exterior feature beyond same size replacement of doors and windows, view commercial new construction
Change of Use or Occupancy
For an overview of requirements for projects that change the use of a space or building, see our Change of Occupancy Brochure
and Change of Use or Occupancy information page
. Depending on the complexity of the project, a life-safety summary may be needed. This is similar to a code summary, but has more detail about sprinkler, fire alarms, detection systems and other construction information about the building. Visit Plan Review staff at the Development Services Center
or call (503) 823-1456 for life-safety summary information.
If your project includes work that would change the occupancy or use of an existing building, visit Building staff and Planning and Zoning staff at the Development Services Center before you prepare your materials and plans.
See State Codes
information for the current building codes in effect. Depending on the scope of work, your project may also require electrical, plumbing and mechanical permits.
Find out how to research your property and where to locate the information in preparation for your permit application.
Determine what your fees will be.
Determine what the system development charges will be for your project.
The bureau offers four early assistance levels for commercial customers.
The City also recognizes that some projects need special assistance due to the complexity of the project. These projects may be assigned a City development liaison to assist the developer and the development team through all phases of the project from early assistance, city review, construction and final occupancy. Visit staff at the Development Services Center
to discuss whether a development liaison is appropriate for your project.
The following information must be submitted when applying for a permit for a commercial alteration/tenant improvement. Since every project is unique, there may be some situations where you will be asked to provide additional information.
(Drawn to most appropriate scale; the minimum acceptable scale of the main floor plan is 1/4”=1’. Single line drawings are not acceptable except as noted – plans must be drawn to show wall thickness)
- Code Summary Narrative including:
- Scope of work, Proposed uses
- Building code edition
- Number of stories
- Floor area of tenant space, total area per floor and total building area
- Use(s) and Occupancy Classification(s)
- Separated or Nonseparated Occupancies
- Construction Type
- Fire sprinklers provided (yes/no) location and type
- Fire alarm pull stations and/or notification provided (yes/no)
- Number of plumbing fixtures required/provided
- Building code appeals with date, ID #, and brief description of code requirement and alternate design approved.
- Overall Floor Plan of the building, showing occupancy classifications and uses of each room or space, and location of work area (may be on main floor plan or a separate full floor single-line diagram plan at not less than 1/8”=1’0”)
- Floor Plan, fully dimensioned, identifying use of each room, existing and proposed walls, wall fire ratings, wall construction components, door sizes and fire ratings, stairs, landings and handrails, egress paths, exit signs, and areas covered by egress lighting
- Enlarged detailed plans and/or elevations of restrooms, stairs and ramps, as necessary
- Lighting Plan with fixture locations, types and input wattages
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FOR INTERIOR ALTERATIONS
- Schematic plumbing diagrams and fixture unit counts, existing and proposed, where six or more plumbing fixtures will be added, changed or moved, or if project involves food service
- If your site includes any off-street parking, you must provide a drawing which illustrates the following information:
- Parking layout showing location, configuration and dimensions of accessible parking spaces, aisles and signage
- Description of accessible route between the building and accessible parking space(s) showing curbs, surface slopes and ramps
- Two copies of accessibility upgrade schedule consisting of a list of proposed accessibility improvements, and their corresponding value to show accessibility improvements to a cost of up to 25% of the project value
- Two copies of completed energy code forms for envelope, lighting and mechanical, as needed
Note: if the alteration project is more than $141,100 in value, the following information is also required in addition to the information outlined above:
(Scale site plans to most appropriate scale, e.g. 1”=10’ or 1/4”= 1’) Minimum acceptable scale is 1”= 10’
- North arrow, scale and grade elevations at property corners and corners of the buildings
- Landscaping, including size, species and spacing of plant materials
- Property lines, with dimensions
- Location of all buildings, with building dimensions, dimensioned distances between buildings and dimensioned distances to property lines
- Curbline of adjacent streets, including the location of any mow strips, sidewalks or easements. All those features to be dimensioned.
- All existing and proposed parking
- Total area of the lot
- Total building coverage area (total roof area)
- Total impervious area
- Address and “R” number (tax account number)
To submit for a permit, bring the completed building permit application and commercial system development charge form, four (4) copies of required plans (for the area of proposed work and areas affected by such work), additional materials and intake fees to the Development Services Center
If you are hiring sub-contractors to do work on your project, and know who they are when applying, they will be listed on your permit at that time. If you don't know when you apply for your permit, they can be added after issuance. Sub-contractors you hire must be registered with the State of Oregon and carry a current CCB license.
After you pay intake fees, your project will be "under review". The bureaus/review groups that will check a commercial alteration project are:
- Planning and Zoning
- Life Safety
- Bureau of Fire and Rescue
- Site Development Review
- Bureau of Environmental Services Review
- Bureau of Transportation
- Bureau of Parks and Recreation Review
- Urban Forestry Review
- Water Bureau
A checksheet is sent to the applicant when a reviewer needs additional information or a correction has to be made to the plans. When you have gathered the additional information or made the corrections, bring the plans/information to the Development Services Center. Reviewers will be notified that a checksheet response has been received, and review will continue.
More information on checksheets
Status reports are available after your project has been assigned to reviewers. Status reports show all reviews and include the reviewer’s name and phone number. To obtain a status report, call (503) 823-7000 and select option four (4) to have a status report faxed to you or call (503) 823-7357 to have one mailed to you.
When the last technical review is approved, your permit will be pre-issued. You will be contacted when your permit is ready, and of your final fee total. Fees may be paid by cash, check, Visa or Mastercard.
If your permit is ready for issuance, you may pick up your permit between 8:00 am - 3:00 pm, Monday-Friday at Permitting Services, located on the 2nd floor of 1900 SW 4th Avenue, Portland, OR. For more information call (503) 823-7357.
The yellow inspection card lists all the inspections you will likely need during your construction project, and what work needs to be done first.
Once your building permit is issued, erosion control measures must be installed, inspected and approved, prior to beginning any further ground disturbing activities.