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Do I Need a Permit For a Fence Installation in Portland?

Custom Cedar FencePermits are the bane of many homeowners’ existence as they go about remodeling and adding to their homes. The following includes answers to common questions about permit requirements for fence installation in Portland, Ore.

Fortunately, the city has published a useful handout on fence installation. Portland fence and deck codes should be consulted during the fence design stage so as to avoid trip-ups during and after fence installation.

Portland Permits: Useful Information for Fence Installation

  • For fences lower than 6 feet in height: No permit is needed, except for barriers around swimming pools.
  • For fences taller than 6 feet: City permit and inspection are needed.
  • For decks or patios with walking surface under 30” above adjacent grade: No permit is required.
  • Posts, trellises, latticework and other ornamental features are considered part of the fence when determining overall height.
  • Corner lots have other options for fence design and height.

Set Back Requirements

A set back is measured from the property line to a certain point inside the property. The goal of a set back is to create a buffer inside your property line for fire protection and to maintain air and light.

The City of Portland is divided into zones, and the set back requirements vary from zone to zone, ranging from 10-20 feet for front yard set backs and 5-10 feet for rear set backs. The city recommends calling zoning staff to determine your zone and its requirements.

Fences up to 3½ feet tall may be constructed in the front set back, while fences up to eight feet tall may be constructed in the rear and side set backs. Outside of the set backs, fences taller than 8 feet in height may be constructed (with a permit and inspection).

Other Requirements in Portland

Decay resistance. Any portion of a fence that comes into contact with concrete, or is less than 6 inches from the ground, must be pressure treated or be made of a species of wood that is naturally resistant to decay, such as redwood or cedar. Wood that is to be used below the ground must be stamped as approved for ground contact.

Property line boundary. All parts of the fence must remain inside your property line.

Alternative fencing material. Fences over 6 feet tall that are constructed of material other than wood, metal or wire must be planned and approved to resist environmental forces by an engineer licensed in Oregon.

The City of Portland recommends that the spacing of posts for wood, metal or wire fencing material be no greater than 6 feet; that each post’s concrete footing should be at least 18” in diameter; and that posts should be embedded at least three feet deep in the ground.

Having knowledge of these requirements and guidelines will make it easier for you as you plan a fence installation project in Portland, Ore.

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