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Development Services

From Concept to Construction

Phone: 503-823-7300


1900 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97201

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Residential Demolition

Getting Started

A demolition permit is required to demolish any building that required a building permit to construct. Structures exempt from a building permit to construct do not require a permit for demolition. Structures that should have been constructed under permit, but were built without benefit of a permit, will require a demolition permit for removal.

Each structure removed requires a separate permit. For example, a detached garage and house on the same property will require two separate demolition permits.

A separate demolition permit is required even when a permit is being issued simultaneously to construct a new building in its place.

Erosion control inspections are required for each permit issued. Your permit will be reviewed under various code provisions, including Chapter 24.55 of the Portland City Code. View more information on building codes.

It is recommended to visit or call the Planning and Zoning staff (503) 823-7526 and Buildings staff (503) 823-7310 at the Development Services Center early in the planning of your project.


1. Is the proposed work a Demolition or Major Alteration?

Note: Portland City Council recently approved amendments to the demolition delay and notification requirements contained in City Code Section 24.55.200 effective April 20, 2015. For more detailed information on the new Demolition Ordinance, visit the Residential Demolition and Major Alteration and Addition Delay and Notification Information webpage.

A demolition means removal of the entire superstructure down to the subflooring, such that none of the existing superstructure is maintained.  Demolition includes removal of all exterior walls. It also includes alteration, abandonment or removal of all of the existing perimeter foundation. 

To assist with determining whether the work qualifies as a demolition or a major alteration or addition, the following guides offer an overview and illustrate various examples:

Note: Portland City Council recently added City Code Section 24.55.210 (Major Alterations and Additions) that requires notification and delay for larger residential alteration and addition projects. Please see the Major Residential Alteration and Addition Permit - Overview and Criteria page for information on this type of permit.


2. Demolition Delay Ordinance (City Code Section 24.55.200)
Residential structures in areas with a residential Comprehensive Plan Map designation are subject to a Residential Demolition Delay. 

The new Demolition Ordinance, effective April 20, 2015, requires the following:

  • Mailed notice sent by BDS to properties within 150 feet within 5 business days of a complete application being received by BDS
  • Emailed notice sent by BDS to recognized organizations whose boundaries include the site, the Architectural Heritage Center and Restore Oregon
  • Door hangers placed on abutting and surrounding properties by the applicant 5 days before demolition activity commences
  • Possible 60- day extension with a successful appeal of the demolition permit issuance
  • Certification Regarding Asbestos and Lead-Based Paint

The Residential Demolitions - Overview and Criteria webpage contains more information on the new Demolition Ordinance, including the required delay and notification rules and regulations, links to State and Federal government agencies that regulate air quality, asbestos and lead paint and other useful information relating to residential demolitions.

3. Deconstruction Ordinance (City Code Chapter 17.106)

Single-dwelling structures (houses and duplexes) in all zones are subject to a new Deconstruction Ordinance if:

  • The structure was built in 1916 or earlier; or
  • The structure is a historic resource subject to Demolition Delay (Title 24.55.200) or Demolition Delay Review (Title 33.445).

The Deconstruction Ordinance, effective October 31, 2016, requires the following:

  • Structures must be fully deconstructed in order to maximize the salvage of material for reuse
  • Work must be completed by a Certified Deconstruction Contractor
  • The Certified Deconstruction Contractor must submit a complete Pre-Deconstruction Form as part of the demolition permit application. (Form available to certified deconstruction contractors via login and password.)
  • All receipts and weight tickets for materials sold/donated/recycled must be maintained
  • The Certified Deconstruction Contractor must complete and submit a Post-Deconstruction Form along with the documentation above before the demolition permit can be finaled. (Form available to certified deconstruction contractors via login and password.)

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s webpage contains additional information about the Deconstruction Ordinance, associated Administrative Rules, and a list of Certified Deconstruction Contractors.

4. Soil Compaction
After demolition, the site must be restored to conditions suitable for new construction. If the building to be demolished has a basement or foundation that will result in a replacement fill of 24” or greater, the replacement soil is required to be compacted, and a soils special inspection by an independent agency is required. 

When a replacement house is being constructed at the same time and the basement excavation is being reused, in some conditions, it is possible to put off the compacted fill requirement by submitting an Agreement for Basement Fill & Compaction. This agreement guarantees that the excavation will be filled if the new construction does not occur.

5. Utilities
A sewer cap is required if a house to be demolished is served by the City sewer. If the sanitary system was a septic tank or cesspool, then the abandonment of that system must be inspected under a decommission permit.

6. Intent to Demolish
If you, the applicant, are not the owner of the property listed on the deed, you will need a completed intent to demolish form signed by all property owners. If you recently purchased the property, you will need to show proof of ownership.

7. Certification Regarding Asbestos and Lead-Based Paint
The applicant must submit a Certification Regarding Asbestos and Lead-Based Paint to BDS before the permit can be issued. By submitting the form, the applicant certifies that the area of proposed work has been tested by a certified contractor and either does not contain asbestos or lead-based paint, or that it does and the materials will be properly abated, handled and disposed of.

8. Tree Code Requirements
Title 11 Tree Code requirements are triggered by the criteria below, and must be met prior to a demolition permit being issued. Your permit can be taken in for review without tree preservation information, but you must complete your tree preservation requirements during the 35 day demolition delay period. Planning and Zoning won’t approve the demolition permit until the Title 11 Tree Code requirements are met. Because the permit can’t get issued until Planning and Zoning signs off on the application, failure to meet the Tree Code requirements could delay issuance of the permit. Information on Title 11 Tree Code requirements can be found at

Applying For My Permit

The following information must be submitted when applying for a demolition permit. Since every project is unique, there may be some situations where you will be asked to provide additional information.

Erosion control plan (may be a part of the site plan) or completed simple site erosion control form, if the project will result in ground disturbing activity. Note: Erosion control measures shall be installed, even when a simple site erosion control form has been accepted.

SITE PLAN (Scale site plans to most appropriate scale, e.g. 1”= 10’ or 1/4”= 1’)

  • Property lines, with dimensions
  • Adjacent streets and any easements
  • Property address and R number
  • North arrow
  • Structure to be demolished and its use
  • Distance between remaining buildings and between remaining buildings and property lines

To submit for a permit, bring the completed building permit application and four (4) copies of site, architectural, and structural plans (for the area of proposed work and areas affected by such work ) along with intake fees to the Development Services Center.

The Bureau of Development Services sells a "Residential Combination" permit package. This allows you to call for all inspections using just the Building Permit (RS) IVR number and pay for all the permits at one time. You will need to submit the trade (mechanical, electrical, and/or plumbing) application(s) signed either by you, if you are doing these portions of the work yourself, or by your licensed subcontractors. If you do not have your completed subcontractor forms when you are applying for your residential permit (RS) you will have to apply for trade permits separately from the building permit. Sub-contractors that you hire must be registered with the State of Oregon and carry the correct licenses in association with their trade.

Plan Review Process

Many Demolition permits can be reviewed "over the counter” in the Development Services Center. You will meet individually with city staff from different departments. Each staff person will review your plans with you to verify that the proposed work meets requirements. If information is missing or if corrections are needed, you will be asked to update your plans. In this case, another trip to the Permit Center may be needed. 

If the project is subject to Demolition Delay, or more complex the plans will be taken in for the waiting period, or for further review. You will be sent a checksheet requesting any clarifications or corrections. For additional information on the review process, see the permitting process overview flowchart.

The bureaus/review groups that will check a typical demolition project are:

  • Planning and Zoning
  • Life Safety Review
  • Site Development Review (if the property has a slope of 20% or more there will be a site development review to identify any slide hazards and verify all erosion control measure proposals)
  • Residential subsurface evaluation review

Overview of the permitting process 

Status Reports
Status reports are available after your project has been taken in for review. 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, and any required demolition delay has elapsed, your permit will be pre-issued. You will be contacted when your permit is ready, and notified of your final fee total. Fees may be paid by cash, check, Visa or Mastercard.

When your permit is ready to be issued, you may pick up your permit at Permitting Services, located on the 2nd floor of 1900 SW 4th Avenue, Portland, OR. For more information call (503) 823-7357. For hours, see the hours listed on the Development Services Center page.


The blue 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, prior to beginning any further ground disturbing activities.

Applications & Handouts