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Development Services

From Concept to Construction

Phone: 503-823-7300


1900 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97201

More Contact Info

Summer Project Profile: Can I build a deck?


When the urge strikes you to create a new deck to enjoy our beautiful Portland weather … it is important to think about the need for permits in order to protect your investment, your client and/or family. 

You may need a building permit or a zoning permit depending upon the complexity, location and difficulty of the deck project.

Deck 1Generally speaking, a building permit is required if your deck is over 30 inches high.   Because there are many exceptions to these general guidelines it is best if sketch your ideas out (preferably to scale) and bring them in to the Development Services Center (DSC) to discuss your deck project with our friendly staff.

Building permit technicians, planning and zoning reviewers and the life safety plans examiners are available to answer questions about your specific deck project:

Monday –Friday 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and on Thursday nights 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Development Services Center at 1900 SW Fourth Avenue

Reviewing your deck project with us while you are in the preliminary design stages to ensure compliance with ourbuilding and zoning codes will help you avoid unexpected surprises during the formal review process. 

Review the Bureau of Development Services brochure entitled “Fences, Decks and Outside Projects” for more guidance about your project. This brochure is also available in Vietnamese, Spanish and Russian by going to our website at

It is not necessary to hire a design professional to draw your plans.  You can do that yourself!  Just make sure that your plans are drawn to scale and are legible/reproducible. Keep in mind that in order to provide the plan review staff enough details to approve your project we will generally need to see the following plans:

  • Elevation Views:Deck 2
    Elevation Views are front and side views of your house and the proposed deck and the level of the ground adjacent to the deck.
  • Framing and Foundation Plan:
    Make sure you identify clearly the sizes of footings, joists and lumber you plan on using.
  • Cross Section and Details:
    Your plans must include details of the following parts of your deck:
    • Ledger board-to-house attachment
    • Joist-to-beam connection
    • Rim joist connection
    • Post-to-beam connection
    • Post-to-footing connection
    • Lateral support method
    • Guardrail height and openings
    • Guardrail post attachment
    • Stair and stair handrail details

You can review our “What Plans do I Need for a Building Permit” for some examples of these drawings. 

Please visit us early in your design process, and then enjoy your deck in our great NW weather!


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