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Do I Need a Permit for a Retaining Wall?

September 28, 2022

If you are considering having a retaining wall built on your property, you’re probably wondering if you will need to file for a permit. As a general rule when remodeling your home or property, a permit is usually required when additions, alterations, or new construction is involved. Most important when building a retaining wall is to determine if an engineering plan is needed for the project.

However, there are times when property owners can take action without the process of obtaining a permit. You should always check with your local jurisdiction to see what their stipulations may be. Either way, it is always good to have an engineer involved to help advise on the structure of the wall.

Also if you live in a Planned Community, where there is an HOA, you would want to inquire if you also need to submit a request to the HOA to get your project approved by the Board of Directors.

The exact type of permit required for a retaining wall depends on the scope and scale of the wall, the zoning rules, regulations, and codes of the city you live in, environmental impacts, and the type of structure that is being built. The codes and regulations established in your municipality will determine if the project requires a construction permit and what type will need to be filed. Most cities have specific zoning laws about the size and length of the wall based on the size of the home and property lines. Utilizing a licensed engineer will ensure the codes of your local jurisdiction are researched and followed prior to drawing the plans for your retaining wall.

Specific to building a retaining wall, there are several key factors that will typically affect whether or not you need a permit.

Retaining Wall – Typical Key Factors for Consideration of Building Permit

  • The total height of the wall
  • Any back slope adjacent to the retaining wall
  • Surcharge load conditions–buildings, roads, vehicle loads, or sloped conditions)
  • Solid fences are attached or adjacent to the proposed retaining wall

My rule of thumb is always ask someone before starting any projects to avoid any violation from the city as that can be costly.

For more information check out our video about permits.

Feel free to contact us with any questions or for referrals to local trusted providers.

Resources – Local City Building Departments

Beaverton Building Permits

Canby Development Services

Gladstone Building Permits

Gresham Building Permits

Happy Valley Building Division

Hillsboro Building Permits

Lake Oswego Building Permitting

Milwaukie Permits

Molalla Construction Permits

Oregon City Building Division

Portland Residential Building Permits

City of Sherwood Building

Tigard Building Services

Troutdale Building Division

Tualatin Building Division

West Linn Building Permits

Wilsonville Building Division

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