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The City of Portland, Oregon

Development Services

From Concept to Construction

Phone: 503-823-7300

Email: bds@portlandoregon.gov

1900 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97201

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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.
  • 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:

REQUIREMENTS TO FACTOR IN TO YOUR PROJECT:

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. 

To assist with determining whether the work qualifies as a demolition or a major alteration, the following guide offers an overview and illustrate various examples of major alterations and additions.  

Portland City Code Section 24.55.210 (Major Alterations and Additions) require 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
  • 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 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 Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s ExploreDecon.com webpage contains information about the Deconstruction Ordinance, associated Administrative Rules, 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.