For you and your family's safety – as well as the safety of anyone who may occupy your home in the future – and to avoid expensive mistakes, do not do any mechanical work that is beyond your skill level.
Do I need a Mechanical Permit?
Mechanical work on one- or two-family dwellings includes work on heating, cooling or ventilation systems, including bath vents and woodstoves. Installation, alteration or repair of gas piping between the meter and an appliance or other equipment, including all liquid petroleum gas piping, is considered mechanical work.
When do I need a permit for mechanical work?
A permit is required to do the following:
- Install or change any part of a heating or cooling system that must be vented into any kind of chimney, including unvented decorative appliances
- Install a woodstove, fireplace insert, pellet stove, or related venting
- Install, alter, or repair gas piping between the meter and an appliance (indoors or outdoors)
- Install bath fans, dryer exhausts, kitchen range exhausts, and appliances that are required to be vented
If you are not sure you need a permit, call the Building Codes Division, (503) 338-3697.
How do I get a permit for mechanical work?
Permits are issued by the Building Codes Division, located at 800 Exchange Street, Suite 100, Astoria.
What information do I need?
Plans are generally not necessary to get a permit to do mechanical work on a dwelling. You will be expected to briefly describe the work proposed. For example, what sort of appliance do you intend to install; will you be installing a new vent, new ductwork, etc.? If you are installing new gas piping, you should know how many outlets (future gas appliances) you plan to install.
If applying for a permit to install or replace a woodstove or fireplace insert, you will be asked whether the appliance is certified to meet Department of Environmental Quality emission standards. The inspector will check the label on the stove or stove insert at the time of inspection. If you are not sure whether the appliance is certified to meet emission standards, ask the dealer or a mechanical inspector.
A mechanical inspector or office staff member can discuss your project with you. If all the necessary information is available, you can usually leave with your permit.
Mechanical permit fees are generally based on the number of appliances, chimneys, vents or gas piping outlets that will be installed. Permit fees are paid when the permit is issued.
How do I get an inspection?
A certified mechanical inspector must inspect any work done under a permit.
If you are having the work done by a mechanical contractor, the contractor is required to notify the inspecting jurisdiction when the work is ready to be inspected. If you are doing your own work, you can call the Inspection Line at (503) 338-3698 within 24 hours after completion of any phase of the project. A minimum of 24-hour notice is usually required for inspections.
When you call, you will be asked for the permit number, homeowner's name, project address, type of inspection needed and date inspection is desired. You must also be prepared to furnish detailed directions to the job site.
Unless all of the work is outside and accessible, an adult needs to be at the site to provide access for the inspector.
Planning to do mechanical work on your house or duplex?
As the owner of a one- or two-family dwelling, you can hire a Construction Contractors Board (CCB) registered contractor to do the work, or you or an immediate family member can do it yourself. A friend, neighbor, tenant or family relative cannot legally be paid to do any work unless he or she is a CCB-registered contractor. A licensed plumbing contractor may legally install natural gas piping.
If you have questions regarding a contractor's eligibility to perform work on your property, call the Construction Contractors Board, (503) 378-4621 or (503) 365-7484.
What can I do without a permit?
You do not need a permit to do the following minor repairs and maintenance on a one- or two-family dwelling:
- Paint buildings that are not historic landmarks.
- Blow insulation into existing homes.
- Put up storm windows.
- Install window awnings not more than 54 inches deep (and not in a design zone or historical district) that are supported by an exterior wall and do not project beyond the property line.
- Replace interior wall, floor or ceiling coverings, such as wallboard or sheet vinyl.
- Put up shelving and cabinets.
- Install gutters and downspouts (A plumbing permit is required for stormwater disposal.)
- Replace or repair siding on a wall that is three feet or more from a property line.
- Replace or repair roofing, if there is no replacement of sheathing (a maximum of two layers of roofing is allowed).
- Replace doors or windows if the existing openings aren't widened (unless in a historical district).
- Build a fence up to 6 feet high.
- Pave a walkway.
- Build a patio or deck that is not more than 30 inches above grade.