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From Concept to Construction

Phone: 503-823-7300


1900 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97201

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Reminder – Zoning Code Changes for Accessory Structures Took Affect December 2015

Zoning Code Changes for Accessory Structures

Changes in Accessory Structure Zoning Code were approved December 2, 2015 by Portland City Council. BDS sent a Customer and Community Notification with a high level summary of how the changes impact building accessory structures such as garages, storage sheds, home offices, and accessory dwelling units (ADUs). 

More detailed information about the changes can be found in the Draft for the Accessory Structures Zoning Code Update. A two page summary of the changes is available also on the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability website.

How and When to Call for Residential Inspections?

Residential Structure

Inspection requests must be received before 6 am the day of the inspection. You may ask for an inspection by calling the Inspection Request Line at 503-823-7000. We do not make appointments, but do attempt to honor requests for morning or afternoon inspections. Because of the uncertainties in the amount of time required, however, we cannot guarantee the specific time of day. If the dwelling is occupied, the applicant or an adult must be present to let in the inspector and remain during the inspection.

Tree Preservation (when required)
To be performed and approved prior to ANY other work taking place. Any protected trees will require a 6 foot chain link fence to be placed around them in accordance with the approved plans.

Erosion Control
To be done with the footing inspection. The inspector will look at excavation and grading, slopes, and fill materials. Structural fills will require a fill certification by a geotechnical or civil engineer.

Footing and Setback Inspections
Performed after trenches or pad openings are excavated and cleared of loose material or mud and after any fill materials are placed, forms are erected and secured in place, and reinforcing is in place and secured, but prior to placing concrete. New construction requires a grounding electrode to be in place prior to inspection. Property lines shall be clearly identified by finding the existing official corner markers or providing a property survey for inspection of the setbacks and fire separation distance between the lot lines and new construction. We strongly recommend that you allow 24 hours from the time of your inspection to your pour to allow for corrections and re-inspections.

Foundation Inspection (sometimes combined with the footing inspection)
Are made after forms and reinforcing are erected and secured or braced, but prior to placing concrete. All hold downs and special frame anchor bolts must be mounted in place prior to inspection. We strongly recommend that you allow 24 hours from the time of your inspection to your pour to allow for corrections and re-inspections.

Under-Floor or Plumbing, Electrical and Mechanical Inspection
Includes any plumbing, electrical, mechanical and gas piping work that will be installed under the floor.  Inspections are requested after the electrical, plumbing, ductwork and gas piping are in place and secured but prior to the floor framing being covered.  The mechanical and plumbing inspections may be done at the same time as the under-floor framing inspection.

Under-Floor or Post and Beam Inspection
Made after all under floor plumbing, electrical and mechanical (including gas pipe) systems have been installed and all sill plates and under floor structural components are in place secured and properly fastened, but prior to the application of flooring or insulation materials. All structural components which have been improperly cut or notched for plumbing, etc. are to be repaired or replaced as needed.

Concrete floor slabs inspection (within buildings/structures)
Are made after all under floor plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems have been installed and approved, the ground surface is prepared and leveled, forms are in place and secured, reinforcing or woven wire mesh (if required) and under slab insulation (when required) are in place. We strongly recommend that you allow 24 hours from the time of your inspection to your pour to allow for corrections and re-inspections.

Roof coverings
The roof covering may be installed over the roof sheathing at any time unless otherwise noted on your plans.

Rough in, all systems
The rough plumbing, electrical, mechanical and gas piping systems are to be installed and approved prior to obtaining the framing inspection and covering any work. The mechanical, plumbing and electrical inspections may be done at the same time as the framing inspection.

Shear Walls
Inspected after the structural frame is in place, all panels are to be nailed per the shear wall schedules, hold-downs and straps are to be installed and in any miscellaneous attachments installed.  This inspection may be done with the structural frame inspection.

Structural Frame Inspection
Performed after all of the above systems are approved.  All structural components that have been improperly cut, notched or altered for systems installations must be replaced or repaired as indicated.  Roof, wall and floor sheathing are to be in place and nailed.  Bracing, blocking and fire stops are to be complete.  Windows and doors must be installed.

Insulation and Vapor Barrier Inspection
Performed after all insulation and vapor barriers are in place and secured.  Includes walls, floor, ground covers etc.  Does not include loose insulation to be supported by ceiling finish materials.  Weather protection must be provided prior to insulation.    Wet or soaked insulation will be rejected.  Substantially wet or soaked wood construction is not to be covered with vapor barriers unless adequate provisions are made for thorough drying of the structure.  Under-floor and attic insulation may be done at a later time, but must be in place prior to the final inspection.

Gypsum Wallboard (Drywall) Inspection
To be done on firewalls and gypsum wallboard (drywall) shear walls only.  All nailing or other fastening systems must be complete.  Tape, plaster or other coverings are not to be applied prior to this inspection.  Where multiple layer of gypsum wallboard are required, the nailing of each layer must be inspected.

Public Sidewalk and Driveway Approach Inspection
Required for all concrete paving within the street right-of-way; to be done after the excavation is complete, the forms are in place and secured, and the sub grade is properly prepared, but prior to placing of any concrete.  The Bureau of Transportation performs ALL driveway aprons and frontage sidewalks.  Please call (503) 823-7002 to schedule inspections for this portion of your project.  The Bureau of Development Services will continue to inspect the flatwork portion of the driveway from the back of the sidewalk to the garage/house.  Please call (503) 823-7000 to schedule the inspections for this portion of your project.

Driveways, Porches and Flat Work
Concrete driveways, patios, walkways and porches will be inspected after the ground service is prepared and leveled, and forms are in place and secured.  The inspector will verify that the placement of concrete will not be against untreated framing or siding, and the rise and run of any steps or stairs.  We strongly recommended that you allow 24 hours from the time of your inspection to your pour to allow for corrections and re-inspections.

Other Inspections
Other inspections may be required on particular jobs.  These will be indicated on the approved plans and specifications or the Building Inspector will inform the permit holder of the need for them.

Special Inspections
When special inspections are required, a qualified and approved special inspector is to be at the job site whenever work requiring special inspections is in progress.  The City of Portland does not perform special inspections.  The building inspector or approved agency shall submit a report of their findings upon completion of the inspection. 

The Oregon Building Officials Association has created a list of approved special inspectors and agencies.  For a current list of approved inspector and agencies contact the Oregon Building Official Association by phone at (503) 873-1157 or fax at (503) 873-9389.

Final Inspections
Final Building, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, erosion control/including any required tree planting, and fire suppression (when required) inspections will be done after all such systems are complete but before occupancy of the premises is allowed.  The final building inspection is done only after all other required inspections have been completed and approved.

Electrical Service Inspection

Question:Electrical Service

  • Is a service inspection….(Inspection code #120/111) required or is that included in a cover inspection (inspection code #105) or a final inspection (inspection code  #199)?


  • Customers should request all inspections relevant to their project. If the project involves a service change, panel change or added sub panel, an inspection (#120/111/145) should be requested. This provides a record of requested inspections and approvals for all aspects of the electrical installation that has taken place. If only a cover inspection and a final inspection is approved there would be no record of a service/ sub panel approval unless a 120/111/145 inspection was requested and /or approved.

Backwater Valves

What is a “backwater valve” and under what circumstances should one be installed?

Backwater Valves

Question: What is a “backwater valve” and under what circumstances should one be installed?

Backwater Valve:  A device installed in a drainage system to prevent reverse flow.

  • When installed and operating in a correct manner, a backwater valve will prevent the reverse flow of sewage or other effluent from re-entering and possibly flooding the dwelling.      

The following code articles describe the criteria and circumstances of when “back water valves” are required.  

OPSC Section:

710.0 Drainage of Fixtures Located Below the Next Upstream Manhole or Below the Main Sewer Level. 

710.1 Backflow Protection. Where a fixture is installed on a floor level that is lower than the next upstream manhole cover of the public or private sewer serving such drainage piping, shall be protected from backflow of sewage by installing an approved type of backwater valve. Fixtures on floor levels above such elevation shall not discharge through the backwater valve. Cleanouts for drains that pass through a backwater valve shall be clearly identified with a label, sign or markings, stating water valve downstream". 

710.6 Backwater Valves. Backwater valves, gate valves, fullway ball valves, unions, motors, compressors, air tanks, and other mechanical devices required by this section shall be located where they will be accessible for inspection and repair and, unless continuously exposed, shall be enclosed in a masonry pit fitted with an adequately sized removable cover.

Backwater valves shall have bodies of cast-iron, plastic, brass, or other approved materials; shall have noncorrosive bearings, seats, and self-aligning discs; and shall be constructed so as to ensure a positive mechanical seal. Such backwater valves shall remain open during periods of low flows to avoid screening of solids and shall not restrict capacities or cause excessive turbulence during peak loads. Unless otherwise listed, valve access covers shall be bolted type with gasket, and each valve shall bear the manufacturer's name cast into the body and the cover.

Electrical Inspections Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Can I, as a homeowner or a member of the homeowner’s immediate family, do electrical work on a residential property?

Answer: It depends on your answer to the following questions which are based on Oregon Law, under Oregon Revised Statues, ORS 479.540 Electrical Safety Law: 

    • YES if it is a single family residence that you own and occupy, and will live in for 6 months after final approval.

    • NO
       If it is a residential property you own, but are using as a rental property; or
       If it is a residential property you own, but intend to rent, sell, lease or exchange; or
       If it is an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU); or
       If a friend or tenant is doing the electrical work on your residential property 

Question: For Electrical Permits, when do I call for inspection and in what order?
Answer: Rough-in inspections are needed once wiring has been installed; all splices are completed, prior to installing the devices or covering the installation with finishes.

After rough-in approval, finishes are installed and all devices/fixtures are installed and functioning. Please then request a Final Inspection.

Question: Do I need to be home for the inspection?
Answer: An adult (18 years or older) is required to be present at the site for inspection if the property is occupied or has belongings inside per City policy.