There’s plenty to think about when installing new wood fences or patio covers. Design, placement and materials all demand your attention. Yet if you don’t pay attention to your town’s building requirements, all of your hard work could be rewarded with a fine and a command to tear everything down and start over.
When it comes to building a privacy fence, Vancouver and Portland each have their own distinct requirements. In a past blog, we have outlined Vancouver’s fence regulations. Today we’re focusing on Portland’s fencing rules. Read on to learn what the City of Portland requires for fence installations.
Check the height to figure out if a permit is needed. Fences less than 6 feet in height require no permit within Portland’s boundaries. If you plan on building a taller fence, you must obtain a building permit and pass an inspection. Some buildings are in overlay zones or plan districts and may therefore have different fencing standards. To check your property’s zoning requirements, call the Planning and Zoning Office at 503-823-7526.
Location and fence height. There are often height limits based on where your fence is located on your property. For example, a fence at the front of a home may be restricted to 3½ feet, while an 8-foot fence may be permissible on the sides and back. Corner properties often have additional restrictions in order to preserve line of sight for approaching vehicles.
Who to call for property line review. All parts of your fence must be within your property lines. If you are not sure exactly where your property line runs, call the Portland Office of Transportation and Engineering at 503-823-7002. They can tell you the distance from the street to your property line. It is more difficult to determine the property line between you and your neighbors’ lots; you may need to hire a professional surveyor to determine this information.
Engineering considerations. For fences 6 feet height and taller, the City of Portland recommends that posts be no more than 6 feet apart and set in cement that is 18 inches in diameter and 36 inches deep. Additionally, if your fence will not be wood, metal or wire, and will be taller than 6 feet, the city requires that it be designed by an Oregon-licensed engineer to resist environmental forces.
Requirements regarding fence materials. Wood fences that touch concrete or are within six inches of the ground must be pressure treated. Alternatively, you can build with a naturally decay-resistant timber such as cedar or redwood.
Portland residents can avoid hassle by reviewing city codes before erecting any major project, such as a privacy fence. Any large outdoor addition to a home, including patio covers, wood fences and decking, is often regulated by municipal code. Failing to build to these city standards can result in hefty fees; in the worst-case scenario you may even be required to pull down your whole project and start over – at your own cost, of course. In addition to educating yourself on local laws, you should work with an experienced contractor, such as Rick’s Fencing, who is familiar with regional rules.