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This is a guide to help homeowners understand their options – and the complexities – of remodeling a garage in Portland.

Convert to Living Space or Not?

Do you want to to have officially more square footage or not? You will see some value roughly equal to the price per square foot in your area multiplied by the space being remodeled. You will be taxed accordingly. This new square footage will be subject to the code for that type of space.

How Big is Your Space?

200 square feet, less than 15 ft high, do not require a building permit. However, if you are wanting to change the use of that space it will require a building permit.

Are you Modifying Your Openings?

When you change the size or location of windows and doors you often need a building permit. You can close of existing openings like removing a door or window without a structural permit.

Are You Modifying Existing Walls or Roofing?

If you are moving or removing walls, you will likely need a building permit. If you are adding walls, you quite often do not need a building permit – but Portland can decide what they require.

Are You Adding a New Wall, Partition or Enclosing a New Space?

You may or may not need a building permit, but worth trying to execute without one.

Understanding Building Permits

Building permits are all about changes to the structure itself, is it legal, is it engineered properly, is it to code, is the work being done being performed by a licensed professional. You pay the permit fee to compensate Portland for their additional scrutiny over your project.

Non-Structural Remodeling Tips

Some “non structural” remodeling that should be fine without a building permit: Adding insulation, drywall, paint; Removing/replacing an existing window/door (like for like); Finishing flooring of any kind; Base, trim, etc as well as sheeting and siding; Most electrical: Adding lights, outlets, electrical, heating (Portland may ask, why are you heating it?); Limited plumbing: Modifying existing, adding a hose bib.

Why is Electrical and Plumbing Limited?

Because Portland wants to know what you are using that space for. Then knowing that, they tell you how that space is regulated.

Trade Permits: Plumbing, Electrical, Mechanical

Ok, now that you have decided on building permit or no building permit we can look at the trade permits you likely need depending on your circumstance.

You Have a Bedroom and a Bathroom, Not an ADU.

So now you go through the whole permitting process and have finished space, with a bathroom, shower, sink where a guest or in-law could stay – someone could live there. This is now a new bedroom (or office), and a new full (or half) bathroom added to your existing single family residence. This is NOT an ADU.

ADU vs. Garage Remodel

An ADU in Oregon typically has 3 significant attributes which make it distinct from a garage remodel: a new/different address; a new/different electrical meter; a new/different water meter.

Other Considerations for Your Remodel

What is your water meter size? Can you even add more fixtures? See the w3 worksheet. How small of a bathroom can you add? Can your electrical panel support more circuits or do you need to add a sub panel?

Navigating Legalities and Transparency

In the end, anything that is legally possible in your jurisdiction is physically possible to execute. The correct path forward in your garage remodel project is a spectrum of your intended use and level of transparency with the city of Portland.

Dealing with Non-Compliance

What happens if you make a modification that Portland doesn’t like or permit? You have to fix it, if you don’t you will be assessed a fine – however, everyone’s goal is to achieve “to code” construction and not assess fines. Portland will work with you in good faith to rectify the issue.

Why Choose US

Satisfaction Guarantee

If you are not satisfied with your end result, let us know and we will do everything to make it right.

One-Stop Shop

From handyman services to complex plumbing, we offer everything you need for your Portland, OR renovation.

Small Business

This means we get to know each and every one of our customers and can provide personalized services.