A building permit is required for alterations in commercial and multifamily buildings, even when no structural changes are made.
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 Centeror 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.
Codes in effect in Portland include City Codes, such as Titles 24 and 33, as well as State building codes. See our Codes page for more information.
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.
- Visit the Development Services Center to talk with Building staff, Planning and Zoning staff and staff from the Portland Department of Transportation, the Bureau of Environmental Services, and the Bureau of Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Services. Portland Parks and Recreation and Water Bureau staff can be reached by phone.
- There are some projects that have complicated building or fire code issues that may need additional assistance. In some cases staff may set up an appointment with a plan reviewer and a fire marshal to answer building and fire code questions; a Bureau Process Manager may be assigned to the project; or a meeting will be scheduled with a team of city staff to review the project.To find out what early assistance meeting best fits your needs, please call (503) 823-7310, or see the Preliminary Meeting Request Packet - Life Safety.
- Land Use Pre-Application Conferences for those projects that require one
- By appointment, for land use early assistance or by appointment with multiple review agencies
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.