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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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Garage, Shed, Accessory Structures

Information relating to small, non-habitable structures on the same property such as a house or duplex.

Getting Started

A building permit is required to build, demolish or move any carport, garage or shed that is greater than 200 square feet in area or greater than 10 feet high measured from the finish floor level to the average height of the roof. Depending on the scope of work, your project may also require electrical, plumbing or mechanical permits.

A building permit is not required to construct an non-habitable accessory structure that is 200 square feet or less in area. However, a zoning permit could be required.

It is recommended to visit or call the Planning and Zoning staff (503) 823-7526 and Buildings staff (503) 823-7310 option four (4) at the Development Services Center early in the planning of your project.

Your permit will be reviewed under provisions in the current Residential Specialty Code (formerly the One and Two Family Dwelling Specialty Code).

Applying For My Permit

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

  • Completed building permit application form
  • If lot slope exceeds 20%, submit a geotechnical engineering report prepared by an engineer registered in the State of Oregon
  • Erosion control plan (may be a part of the site plan)
  • Mitigation form and/or a stormwater plan if your project will add more than than 500 square feet of impervious area

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

  • Property lines, with dimensions
  • Total area (in square feet) of the lot
  • Adjacent streets and any easements
  • Property address and R number
  • North arrow
  • Distance between buildings and between buildings and property lines
  • Grade elevations, for lot, at property corners and corners of structure(s)
  • Grade elevations, for driveway, at the top of the curb and at the gutter
  • Existing street features such as hydrants and power poles
  • Area (in square feet) of any existing or proposed buildings
  • Dimensions and area (in square feet) of any proposed and existing paving
  • Location of sewer and water lines and method of stormwater disposal

Architectural Plans (Scale of plans to be ¼”=1’ and details scaled to ½”=1’. Single line drawings are not acceptable – plans must be drawn to show wall thickness)

  • Fully dimensioned floor plans (including existing and proposed walls, window/door sizes and locations) of each floor affected
  • Use of each area
  • Plumbing fixture layout
  • All exterior building elevations (three side views)
  • Building sections showing typical wall, floor, ceiling, roof and foundation
  • Insulation R value for ceiling, walls and floors
  • Gas/oil furnace and water heater location
  • Electrical light fixtures, smoke detectors and fans
  • Details of all non-typical construction

Structural Plans (Scale of plans to be ¼”=1’)

  • Foundation plan including hold-downs
  • Cross sections showing framing members, blocking and materials
  • Roof framing including lumber size, spacing and span
  • Braced wall panel locations shown on appropriate plans (BP/ABP per CABO or engineered calculations)
  • Any engineering calculations may be attached to the plans and engineering details incorporated into the plans or cross-referenced on the plans
  • Connections to existing construction

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.


(1) Fire Walls and Fire Protection

The building code does not restrict placement of a structure on the lot, but it does require that if a structure is close to a property line, it must be constructed to a greater level of fire protection. Construction within three feet of a property line that you share with a neighbor (not a street or public alley) is required to be fire rated.

If your accessory structure is a garage and it will be attached to, or within three feet of the house, then the interior walls of the garage must be covered with a layer of ½” gypsum board for additional fire protection. Any openings (such as doors and windows) within this distance may be required to be protected, depending on the configuration.

Visit Planning and Zoning staff at the Development Services Center or call (503) 823-7526 to determine your setbacks. The zoning code regulates how close a structure can be to a property line.

(2) Building a Garage

You will need to show how you will provide the required parking space. Parking in your driveway alone may not meet this requirement. A detached garage may have structural deficiencies that would need to meet building code standards

The City requires that the garage be accessed via a driveway. If you don’t currently have a driveway you will be required to put one in. The driveway will need to be paved if it is within 150’ of an improved public right-of-way. For additional information on paving surfaces, see Portland City Code, Title 24.45.020.

If your project requires construction in the public right-of-way, then the Portland Department of Transportation will review the project, and issue a separate transportation permit for this work as well. For more information about right-of-way requirements, contact the Portland Department of Transportation at (503) 823-7002.

(3) Cargo Containers

Sometimes, cargo containers can be used as accessory structures. These are challenging in that they too must meet all the requirements of the code.

(4) Residential Engineering

Your project must be designed to meet all the requirements of the building code. This usually means that a full foundation with footings to the frost depth, and a complete lateral force resisting system are required.

The building code has two options for showing the building will resist lateral loads. View more information on residential engineering.

Visit the Plan Review staff at the Development Services Center to learn more about braced panel detail, alternate braced panel detail and two-story braced panel detail.

(5) Decommissioning a Septic Tank or Cesspool

 When building an accessory structure, the septic tank/cesspool must be located if it exists.

  • Visit the records staff at the Development Services Center to locate any old plumbing records showing a septic system/cesspool.
  • If the septic system/cesspool is decommissioned, and within ten feet of the new structure, you must sign a disclaimer for on-site-sewage disposal system form.
  • If the septic system/cesspool is within ten feet of the new structure, it will need to be decommissioned

Call Environmental Soils staff at (503) 823-6892 for more information on decommissioning septic tanks and cesspools.

Plan Review Process

After you pay intake fees, your project will be "under review". The bureaus/review groups that will check a typical garage, shed or accessory structure project are:

  • Planning and Zoning Review
  • Life Safety Review
  • Structural Review
  • Residential Subsurface Evaluation—Site Development Review
  • Bureau of Environmental Services
  • Portland Department of Transportation
  • Urban Forestry Review

Overview of the permitting process.

A checksheet is sent to the applicant when a reviewer needs additional information or a correction has to be made to the plans. When you have gathered the additional information or made the corrections, bring the plans/information to the Development Services Center. Reviewers will be notified that a checksheet response has been received and the review will continue.

More information on checksheets.

Status Reports
Status reports are available after your project has been assigned to reviewers. 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, your permit will be pre-issued. You will be contacted when your permit is ready, and of your final fee total. Fees may be paid by cash, check, Visa or Mastercard.

If your permit is ready for issuance, you may pick up your permit between 8:00 am - 3:00 pm, Monday-Friday at Permitting Services, located on the 2nd floor of 1900 SW 4th Avenue, Portland, OR. For more information call (503) 823-7357.


The yellow inspection card lists all the inspections you will likely need during your construction project, and what work needs to be done first. 

Applications & Handouts