Deck Building & Permits: Everything You Need To Know

Permits aren’t something most of us think about when we consider making  modifications to our homes, but they are important—and they are usually required. Where decks are concerned for instance, you will more often than not require permits for a new build. Specifically, a deck permit is typically needed if at any point your deck is more than 30 inches off the ground. However, if you are only replacing a few boards that have rotted, you may be able to get by without a building permit; it all depends on your project. Nevertheless, acquiring a permit can be time-consuming and frustrating if you aren’t fully prepared.

Luckily, Webfoot Painting has taken the guesswork out of deck permitting. Here we answer some of your most commonly asked questions and demystify the permitting process so your next deck project can be your best one yet.

Why Do You Need a Building Permit?

You may be asking yourself why you require a permit at all; you’re only upgrading your existing deck by adding a few steps. Right? Wrong. We all like to think of ourselves as more than capable when doing small DIY projects around our homes as most homeowners know a thing or two about staining a fence or driving a few nails. While there isn’t anything wrong with wanting to save a few bucks by taking on a project yourself, you must consider the safety of the people living in your home today and potentially in the future. 

Simply put, permits and inspections are required (and documented) to ensure that minimum building standards are met for your own safety and for the safety of future property owners and occupants.1

What are some of the building permits you can apply for in Oregon?

There are several different types of permits for which you can apply. This includes permits for adding an additional living space or a fence. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on permitting requirements for decks.

When considering a deck build, these are likely some of the permits you may need to consider:

  1. Residential Permits - includes projects for new construction and improvements to houses, duplexes, and two-unit townhouses.
  2. Electrical, Mechanical, & Plumbing Permits - includes permits to install, replace, or repair electrical, mechanical, plumbing fixtures, or systems.
  3. Commercial Permits - includes projects for including triplexes, apartments, condominiums, and other commercial projects.

Whether you are a homeowner or a business owner, you will likely need to obtain a building permit for the following:

  • adding or removing walls
  • adding a tall fence
  • duct or vent work
  • insulation work
  • roofing work
  • ceiling repairs
  • building a patio
  • changing the primary use of a room
  • demolishing a portion of a building
  • electrical, plumbing, or mechanical work

Did You Know?

Deck work that isn’t required to be accompanied by a building permit may still require a zoning permit. Zoning permits ensure that land is being used for its intended use—residential use versus commercial use, for example. A zoning permit is commonly needed for smaller projects where a building permit is not necessary.

What is Required to Obtain a Building Permit in Oregon?

While this is not a complete list and it’s helpful to contact your local permitting office to find out if anything additional is needed, here are the most commonly requested items when contractors and homeowners begin the permitting process:

An application 

Covers information about the building to which changes will be made as well as information about contractors and the applicant.

Description of the work to be performed 

For example: addition of a bedroom and bathroom to the first floor of a single family residence.

Detailed plans & supporting documentation

  • This can include your site plan, floor plans, elevation views, and cross section and detail drawings.
  • The contractor’s name and state license (CCB) number if a contractor will be doing the work.
  • A description of all plumbing, mechanical and electrical work you will be doing (if applicable).

The Fair Market Value for the completed project

Includes the cost of materials and labor that would typically be charged to complete a project of this type, even if you plan to do all of the work yourself.

What is the cost of obtaining a building permit?

This question is a bit more difficult to answer because, as we said before, permitting greatly varies based on where you apply. 

What we do know is the cost of your permit and any associated fees will be determined based on the value, size, and scope of your new build or remodel. Keep in mind that fees can vary considerably and be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to well over $2,000. 

If you’re worried about the cost of a permit putting your project out of budget, consider downsizing your project or choose a different material for your deck. Some materials have a larger cost upfront, but will save you a bundle in the future. Read our post on deck materials for more information on how different materials can affect the ultimate cost of owning a deck today and in the future.

What Happens if You Get Caught Without a Building Permit?

You as the homeowner are responsible for ensuring that you have the proper permits for your deck build, extension, or restoration. Your chosen contractor can help walk you through this process but ultimately the homeowner will be at fault—and have to pay fees—if the appropriate permits are not secured. Furthermore, the cost of fees could far outweigh what the original permit would have cost, had the homeowner elected to get one.

The best advice we can give you is that if you require a permit, then you should obtain one. Webfoot Painting will not do deck work if a permit is required but has not yet been secured. We want our customers to have the peace of mind that comes with working with our great team of expert carpenters that refuse to cut corners. We build decks the Webfoot Way—safely and legally!

However, if you decide you want to take on a deck project yourself and do not secure a permit, here are just a few of the problems you could face:


There are a myriad of fines you may have to pay, including being forced to pay $100 or more per day for the length of time you are operating without a permit.

Worst case, the city could order un-permitted work to be demolished!

Future issues

You might be unable to sell your home later in the event that buyers discover there was un-permitted work done to the property. Even if you are able to find a buyer with un-permitted work, you may not get your asking price, and ultimately suffer losses.

Everything Will Depend on Your Local Municipality

Finally, requirements for obtaining a permit vary not only from state to state, but, depending on which permitting office you visit, there may be different rules and fees. While we are here to offer a helping hand and assist you with the application and permitting process, we highly suggest you contact the permitting office where you plan to apply for a permit so you know what their specific prerequisites may be.

If you’re looking for assistance with your deck, whether it be a restoration or new build, Webfoot Painting has the best deck building experts available to you. We can help you decide if you should restore an existing deck, add a new addition, or help you with choosing the appropriate materials best for your situation. Give us a call at (541) 527-7586 or drop us a line at