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The City of Portland, Oregon

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 with Demolition Permits

Wondering if you need a demolition permit? Here are the basics:

  • You need a demolition permit to demolish any structure  that required a building permit to construct. This also includes structures that were improperly built without a permit.
  • You need a separate demolition permit for each structure that you wish to remove. For example, a detached garage and house on the same property will require two separate demolition permits.
  • You need a demolition permit even if you’re obtaining a building permit to construct a new building in its place.
  • Demolitions of structures used for residential purposes with four or fewer dwelling units, plus detached accessory structures over 200 square feet on those sites, require specific site control measures and are subject to additional inspections
  • Erosion control inspections are required for each permit issued. Prior to any demolition work, a Tree Preservation inspection will be required if you are preserving trees on the site to meet the requirements of 11.50.040.
  • Your permit will be reviewed under various code provisions, including Chapter 24.55 of the Portland City Code. View more information on state building codes.

We recommend that you:


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

A demolition means removal of all exterior walls above the foundation.

A major alteration means removing 50% or more of the exterior walls above the foundation.

Portland City Code Section 24.55.210 (Major Alterations and Additions) 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.

Important: If your project changes from a major alteration to a demolition at any point, you will be required to stop your project, obtain a demolition permit and meet the 35-day delay and notification requirements for demolition projects.

2. Demolition Delay Ordinance (City Code Section 24.55.200)
A demolition permit for structures with 1-2 dwelling units in areas with a residential Comprehensive Plan Map designation are subject to a demolition delay. The Demolition Ordinance 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 properties within 300 feet by the applicant not more than two weeks nor less than 72 hours before demolition activity commences

Possible 60- day extension with a successful appeal of the demolition permit issuance

The Residential Demolitions - Overview and Criteria webpage contains more information on the 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. Site Controls for Demolitions with 1-4 Dwelling Units

Effective July 1, 2018, demolitions of structures with 1-4 dwelling units and the accessory structures over 200s square feet on those sites must implement the site control measures outlined in Portland City Code Section 24.55.205.  Those site control measures include:

  • A copy of the asbestos survey
  • A Demolition Plan
  • Documentation that the person performing the demolition, if a contractor, has one of the lead paint certifications specified on OAR 333-068-0070
  • Documentation showing either a person with the specified accreditation/certification regarding asbestos is on-site during mechanical demolition activities or a Comprehensive Asbestos Inspection and Testing, as defined in Section 2.4 of the Demolition Administrative Rules, has been conducted and all asbestos identified has been abated
  • Removing all exterior painted surfaces before mechanical demolition, unless a Lead Inspection, per federal standards and performed by a Certified Inspector or Risk Assessor, identifies all exterior surfaces as free from containing lead-based paint
  • Dust suppression measures are implemented during mechanical demolition, transfer and loading
  • Mechanical demolition activities are suspended if wind speeds exceed 25 MPH
  • Demolition debris is properly contained on-site and covered

4. Deconstruction Ordinance (City Code Chapter 17.106)

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

  • The structure was built in 1940 or earlier; or
  • The structure is designated as a historic resource subject to demolition review or 120-day delay provisions of Title 33.

A Certified Deconstruction Contractor must perform the deconstruction work. Certified Deconstruction Contractors are trained to safely and effectively disassemble the house and salvage valuable materials for reuse. Once you have selected a deconstruction contractor for your project, they will need to submit a Pre-Deconstruction Form before your demolition permit can be issued. Only certified contractors have access to the Pre-Deconstruction Form.

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

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

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. Learn more about trees and development.

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.  See Portland City Code Section 24.55.205  for dust and site control requirements for demolitions of structures with 1 – 4 dwelling units and their related detached accessory structures.

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
  • Tree Plan showing existing trees 12" in trunk diameter or larger on the site, indicating trees to be removed and trees to remain. Trees preserved to meet the requirements of 11.50.040 must have tree preservation fencing shown on the plan.
  • 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

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 the project is subject to Demolition Delay, the site control measures for demolitions of structures with 1 – 4 dwelling units and their detached accessory strctures, 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
  • Demolition Site Review and Release

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.  All demolitions of structures with 1 – 4 dwelling units and their detached accessory structures will have three inspections.  See Portland City Code Section 24.55.205.D and BDS Demolition Administrative Rule, Section 3.11 for more information on these inspections.

Once your building permit is issued, erosion control measures must be installed, prior to beginning any further ground disturbing activities.  Please note: for demolitions of residential structures with 1 – 4 dwelling units and their detached accessory structures, the permit for any replacement structure(s) will not be issued until the demolition permit has been signed off by the inspector.

Applications & Handouts