Residential Demolition

Overview and Criteria of Residential Demolition


The term “Demolition Delay” refers to the process described in Portland City Code Chapter 24.55 for situations in which an application for a permit to demolish a residential primary structure on a property in a residential zone has been submitted to the Bureau of Development Services. When Demolition Delay applies, the proposed demolition work cannot begin until after the waiting period has lapsed. Please note that separate demolition delay processes and requirements apply to historic structures that are subject to the Zoning Code sections 33.445.800 – 33.445.810 and 33.846.080. These requirements are in addition to the Demolition Delay provisions of section 24.55.200.

Definition of a Demolition 24.55.150

  • Demolition. Demolition means removal of the entire superstructure down to the subflooring, such that none of the existing superstructure is maintained. Demolition includes removal of all exterior walls. It also includes alteration, abandonment or removal of all of the existing perimeter foundation.
  • Subflooring. Subflooring means the bottom-most structural floor laid as a base for a finished floor.
  • Superstructure. Superstructure means the part of the building or construction entirely above its foundation or basement.

See the Demolition Informational Guide for illustrations and examples of how to determine whether the proposed work qualifies as a Demolition.  

Demolition Delay is not required for all residential demolitions. Staff in the Development Services Center review each application for multiple criteria to see if Demolition Delay applies. Some common instances where the Demolition Delay is NOT required include:

  • When the demolition is for any building in a commercial zone;
  • If an applicant decides to move the structure instead of demolishing it. The demolition delay period is automatically terminated when a building permit to move the residential primary structure onto a different lot AND a building permit to relocate it are issued;
  • If the demolition is for any accessory structures (such as garages and sheds).

When Demolition Delay applies, BDS and the contractor must perform the following notifications:

  • Posted notice. Five full days before demolition activity commences, the applicant must post door hangers provided by the Bureau of Development Services on the properties abutting and across the street from the site of the demolition. See Figure below.

Criteria for Demolition Delay and Notification

If the residential dwelling is a historic or conservation landmark, or if it is located in a historic resource overlay zone, separate demolition delay process and requirements apply. See Zoning Code sections 33.445.800 – 33.445.810 and 33.846.080

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