A Kinder, Gentler City of Portland Permit Process

In Portland, most major (and some minor) projects require a permit. Do I need a permit? If you are doing the job yourself or are doing lots of things at once, it may make the most sense to head down to the city and get the permit yourself. On Thursday nights, from 5-7PM, the Bueau of Development Services host Residential Permit night. I arrived at 4:45 and was eighth in line. I felt like a proud parent when I discovered one of our past clients at the front of the line with his remodel plans for the kitchen in hand. When you go to sell you home, a savvy buyer needs to look no further than PortlandMaps.com to see if the “kitchen remodeled in 2005” was done legally.

Once checked in, your slip of paper is put in a box depending on what you need to accomplish. My application was first entered into the computer. During this session, we discovered that some of the forms on the web are no longer in use but they are making a concerted effort to correct. It’s better to have too much documentation than none at all. When finished, the slip of paper goes to another box and your name is called. From what I could tell, your initial check in time determines your draw out of each box.

Since we live in the Historic Alphabet District, we have to get special approval for any project that will alter the exterior. I hadn’t realized that this was in addition to the State Historical Preservation Office application that I had already submitted so none of my exterior work was approved. All of my interior work is now permitted and I have the bright orange card that must be posted for all to see.

The staff was kind, helpful and friendly. I was at the cashier in just over an hour from the time that I walked in the door. The process was so much nicer than when I did the same in 2001 for another house.

“Forgot” to get a permit? Check out the City’s “Get Legal Program.”

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