PDX backyard sauna permitting, what do you need to know?


Well-known member
Oct 30, 2023
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Hey guys, I recently came across a post on Reddit that I thought you all would take some interest in. The post in question asks about the process of building a personal sauna in the Multnomah County, Oregon area, and what they should know when dealing with local permitting rules. They've asked their local residents about their experiences with exactly that, as they are finding it rather challenging to get through the cities websites and their ordinances for constructing a sauna like structure. They are specifically interested in putting up a four-person barrel sauna that's only located a few feet away from the property line. They intend to get any electrical work done by a professional electrician as well.

What light can you shed on a subject like this? The original posters are looking for advice on what steps they should take going forward.

The Reddit post can be found here - r/Sauna
Multnomah County, Oregon, United States
When it comes to setting up a Sauna, especially something that requires electrical work, it would be wise to check with your local permitting office about the requirements. They should be able to guide you through the permitting process and answer any questions you may have. For any buildings under 200 square feet, you might not need to obtain a building permit at all according to Oregon's Residential Specialty Code (ORSC). But since the original posters will be installing electrical, they will have to obtain trade permits for possibly both electrical and mechanical work, especially depending on the sauna's stove type. If you hire an electrician for example, it's probably best you have them handle the process of obtaining said permits as well.

One last thing, even though building permits might not be a requirement for a small structure like this, you should still check for specific local ordinances, homeowner association rules, or setback requirements as these could have an affect on your project going forward. This way, you're also in compliance and it should help with future issues with neighbors or local authorities.

Essentially, check with your local permitting office just in case, don't be afraid to ask questions.

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