Getting Started

A building permit is required when building a fence taller than seven feet. The height is measured from the ground where the posts or supports enter the ground to the top of the fence, including any lattice, posts or any other material added to the top. Fences seven feet in height or less do not need a building permit (unless enclosing a swimming pool) but may need a zoning permit.

For more information, visit the Planning and Zoning staff at the Development Services Center or call (503) 823-7526.

Your building permit will be reviewed under provisions in the Residential Specialty Code. More information on building codes.

Important Things to Consider When Planning Your Project:

(1) Setbacks

Fences may be built on private property, so long as they meet certain height and setback requirements. A setback is the distance measured from your property line to a point inside the property. A setback creates a border inside your property lines. Setback requirements are different in each residential zone. A front setback is usually larger than the side and rear setbacks. For purposes of determining setback, the front is the side that borders a street. On a corner lot, the front is the shortest side of the lot that borders a street. If the street frontages are of equal length, you may choose which to call the front.

Visit the Planning and Zoning staff at the Development Services Center or call (503) 823-7526 for help with:

Fences taller than eight feet must meet the requirements listed below:

Zone RF R20 R10 R7 R5 R2.5
Front Setback 20 feet 20 feet 20 feet 15 feet 10 feet 10 feet
Side/Rear Setback 10 feet 10 feet 10 feet 5 feet 5 feet 5 feet

(2) Front Yard Fences
If you are planning to build a fence in your front yard, call the Portland Bureau of Transportation/Engineering at (503) 823-7002 for help in locating property lines along a street. Property lines that divide your lot from your neighbors may be harder to find.

(3) Construction Requirements
See the structural, material, and construction requirements contained in the “Fences” portion of Brochure 3, Fences, Decks and Outdoor Projects. It is important to know that some fences (as outlined in the brochure) require structural design and calculations done by an engineer licensed to practice in Oregon to be submitted with the permit application drawings.

(4) Swimming Pool Barriers
Barriers around swimming pools or spas require additional protection. Requirements for these barriers are found in Appendix G of the Oregon Residential Specialty Code, and general information is contained in the “Swimming Pools” portion of Brochure 3, Fences, Decks and Outdoor Projects.

Applying For My Permit

The following information must be submitted when applying for a permit to construct a fence. Since every project is unique, there may be some situations where you will be asked to provide additional information.

Site Plan (Scale site plans to most appropriate scale, e.g. 1”=10’ or 1/4”=1’

Structural Plans (Scale of plans to be ¼”=1’)

To submit for a permit, bring the completed building permit application and four (4) copies of site, architectural and structural plans (for the area of proposed work and areas affected by such work ) along with intake fees to the Development Services Center.

Plan Review Process

The bureaus/review groups that will check a typical fence project are:

Permit Issuance
Most fence permits can be issued over the counter in the Development Services Center. If your application is missing information, you will be asked to come back with that information. Permit fees are due when the permit is issued. Fees may be paid by cash, check, Visa or Mastercard.


An Inspection card will be provided, which  lists all the inspections you will likely need during your construction project, and what work needs to be done first.

Once your building permit is issued, erosion control measures and sometimes tree protection measures must be installed, inspected and approved prior to beginning any further ground disturbing activities.

Applications & Handouts