Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

Development Services

From Concept to Construction

Phone: 503-823-7300

TTY : 503-823-6868

1900 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97201

More Contact Info

Commercial New Construction and Additions

Information for new commercial structure or multi-family residential projects with three or more units or a commercial alteration project, which includes additional exterior work, structural changes or increase in the building footprint.

Getting Started

A building permit is required for any new commercial structure or multi-family residential project with three or more units or a commercial alteration project, which includes additional exterior work, structural changes or increase in the building footprint.

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.
Alterations to unreinforced masonry buildings may trigger additional seismic strengthening.


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.

Early Assistance:
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.

Applying For My Permit

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.

ARCHITECTURAL PLANS(Minimum scale of plans to be 1/8”=1’. Single line drawings are not acceptable except as noted– plans must be drawn to show wall thickness)

  • Foundation plans including all dimensions, construction details and references
  • Building elevations reflecting exterior appearance of the building, exterior finish materials and height of the building above grade
  • Floor plans indicating the use of all areas, complete dimensions and construction details and references
  • Building sections with sufficient details to indicate necessary construction information
SITE PLAN(Scale site plans to most appropriate scale, e.g. 1”=10’ or 1/4”=1’) Minimum acceptable scale is 1” = 10’
  • Property lines with dimensions, adjacent street names, easements, vicinity map, north arrow and lot area
  • Property address and R number, legal description
  • All site related improvements including grading, erosion control and stormwater drainage
  • Existing and/or proposed grade elevations at property corners and corners of structure(s)
  • Where a structure has a door, person gate or garage entry within five feet of a public street right-of-way, also include:
    • Proposed finish floor elevations of doors, person gates and garage entries
    • Elevations at top of the existing curb and back of the existing sidewalk and property line (perpendicular along the right-of-way)
  • All new and existing structures on the site with distances from property lines and other structures. Include area (in square feet) of any existing buildings. Show basements that extend under public right-of-way.
  • Utilities that include gas lines, power poles, street lights and all new and existing water meters and water piping (fire, domestic and irrigation) with points of connection to the City water system and related sizes
  • All new and existing backflow valve installation locations
  • All new and existing public and private sanitary and storm sewers and easements with points of connection and discharge
  • Locations of all new and proposed fire hydrants (if none on-site, provide distance to nearest)
  • Parking layout plan with dimensioned accessible parking spaces /aisles
  • Driveways, width of adjacent right-of-way, public sidewalk, planting strip and/or tree wells, curb or edge of pavement
  • Location, dimensions and area (in square feet) of all existing and proposed paving
  • Landscaping, proposed and existing, to include both on-site information and street trees
  • All easements and all supporting documentation and/or calculations


HVAC plans should indicate the locations for shafts, corridors, occupancy separations or other fire rated construction, the routing of duct work, locations for fire and smoke dampers at the penetrations through the fire rated construction and design criteria for outside air. Indicate locations for mechanical equipment and note the weights of equipment so that structural support can be verified. A separate mechanical permit is required and must be applied for prior to issuance of the building permit.
Indicate locations for lights, fans, smoke detectors, exit signs and egress lighting. Show compliance with building code electrical requirements. The electrical contractor must obtain a separate electrical permit.
Show the location, size and type of all new water, sanitary and storm water lines. Riser diagrams and fixture unit counts, existing and proposed, calculated in accordance with the Oregon State Plumbing Specialty Code, Table 6-4 must be provided for all projects with five or more fixtures. Identify how water, drain waste and vent pipes penetrating rated wall or floor/ceiling assemblies will be protected by listed assemblies. The plumbing contractor must obtain a separate plumbing permit.
STRUCTURAL PLANS(drawn to scale)
  • Structural Calculations - One (1) sets of structural calculations prepared by the architect or engineer of record for the work covered. Calculations shall be sufficiently complete to demonstrate that the structural system is capable of supporting all imposed vertical and lateral loads and to demonstrate how loads are carried to the foundation. Calculations should include a design summary.
  • Foundation Plans and details, including piles, if any

  • Floor and roof framing plans showing all member sizes, connection details

  • Concrete design including sufficient details for the lateral load resisting system

  • Structural steel design details

  • General notes including design loads, grades of materials and material specifications, list of special inspection items, and list of deferred submittal items.

CIVIL PLANS(For simple projects, this information can be incorporated into the site plan where details are clearly shown)

  • Erosion prevention and sediment control plan
  • Paving plan
  • Grading plan
  • Excavation/shoring plan
  • Stormwater drainage plan


  • Specifications - two (2) sets of complete construction specifications. This information may be included on the plans for smaller, less complex projects where separate specifications are not part of the construction documents
  • Life safety/building code summary
  • Soils report - two (2) sets of soils reports prepared by a licensed engineer that details all needed site related soils information
  • Energy code compliance documentation - must include the state-approved forms and worksheets for the summary, building envelope, lighting and HVAC
To submit for a permit, bring the completed building permit application, 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.



  • Code Summary
    Applications for new buildings must show how they comply with the building code. A code summary is critical to convey design assumptions made for the building. Visit Plan Review staff at the Development Services Center or call (503) 823-7310 for code summary information.
  • Change of Occupancy
    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) 823-7310 for life-safety summary information.

Plan Review Process

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 review
  • Life safety review
  • Structural review
  • Addressing
  • Site development review
  • Plumbing
  • Bureau of Environmental Services review
  • Portland Department of Transportation review
  • Bureau of Parks and Recreation review
  • Urban Forestry review
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
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.
Permit Issued
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.

Applications & Handouts