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Draw Your Own Plans: DIY Essentials for Portland Deck Plan Approvals

House Plan

If you’re the DIY type – fiercely independent and willing to put in a little extra work to make a project turn out just as you wish – perhaps you do your own taxes, mend your own clothing and grow some of your own food. But did you know you can also design your own cedar deck, even if you don’t have a professional background in design?

Indeed, as long as you follow the city’s posted requirements, it’s possible to draw and build your own cedar deck installation, Portland residents. The main issue is obtaining a building permit; without that, the city can fine you and even force you to tear out and redo work. The more likely outcome, however, is that you’ll have to bring the deck up to code when selling the house or doing new upgrades. Bottom line: Permits are a hassle, but building without them usually turns out to be more of a hassle in the end.

Here in Portland, a building permit and inspection are required if the cedar deck design calls for a deck that’s 30 inches higher than the adjacent grade. Additionally, if your deck will have a roof, it’s recommended to meet with the city’s Development Services Center (DSC), which oversees cedar deck installation.

Portland residents should begin the cedar deck design process by reviewing the city’s building codes for decking projects. You’ll also want to check out the Deck Design Guide, brochure 3A, to learn more details about acceptable construction materials. This brochure also lists the plans you will need to submit in order to obtain a building permit; we’ve also listed these plans below. You don’t have to be an architect to create these plans – anyone with a pencil, a ruler and some basic math skills can create them.

1. Site plan. The site plan shows an overhead, “big picture” view of the property, including property lines, current and proposed buildings, paved areas and decks, and distance from proposed deck to property lines.

2. Elevation view. While a site plan shows a bird’s eye view, the elevation view shows the house and cedar decking project from the side. Here’s where you would indicate the space between the deck and the adjacent grade.

3. Framing and foundation plan. This plan shows the details of the supports for your cedar deck. If you prefer, you can instead fill out and submit the worksheet at the end of the Deck Design Guide, brochure 3A.

4. Cross section and details. This plan shows details such as how the deck will attach to the home (at the ledger board) and how posts will connect to beams. To create this plan, it’s probably easiest to use the instructions in the Deck Design Guide, brochure 3A.

To have your plans approved by the city, they must be legible, to scale and detailed enough to show safe construction. If the thought of creating your own cedar decking plans fires you up, be sure to carefully review the city guides listed here. And if you decide this is too much work and would rather just enjoy the completed cedar deck project, give us a call. We’re comfortable with the city’s building requirements and can handle the entire process for you.



[ Photo by: Peg Syverson, on Flickr, via CC License ]

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