Oregon Building Codes – A Guide for Oregon Contractors

As a building professional in Oregon, you know that you need to abide by the building codes that the state adopts. But even if you wanted to sit down and read through hundreds of pages of code, you might not know where to start. 

That’s fair. It’s pretty confusing because the state’s Building Codes Division has adopted different codes for different types of construction. On top of that, there are several rules and laws that govern construction work throughout the state alongside Oregon building codes.

Ultimately, trying to navigate all of this text can feel like an administrative nightmare. You probably don’t want to — and honestly, don’t have the time to — read the full slate of Oregon building codes that apply to the work you do. 

That’s why we’re here. In this guide, we’ll teach you how to access and comply with the relevant Oregon building codes. Let’s get to it.

What’s the difference between residential and commercial building codes in Oregon?

For starters, it’s important to know that the Building Codes Division has divvied up codes for different types of construction workers and tradesmen. In other words, the building codes that govern commercial construction differ from those that govern residential builds. 

Fortunately, the Building Codes Division has webpages for each area so you can hone in on the information you need. Here are links to those pages for your convenience:

  • Commercial Structures Code Program
  • Residential Structures Code Program
  • Energy Code Program (for energy efficiency, not just for electricians)
  • Mechanical Code Program
  • Electrical Code Program
  • Plumbing Code Program
  • Boilers and Pressure Vessel Code Program
  • Elevator Code Program 
  • Manufactured Dwelling Code Program and Parks

Clearly, the Building Codes Division isn’t scared to get specific. It can be helpful to bookmark the page above that applies to you. The Division posts updates about Oregon building codes there and includes a link to the most current iteration of the relevant building code, should you need to access it. 

What do I need to know to comply with Oregon building codes?

That question gets right to the heart of the issue. With so much code to wade through, how are building professionals throughout Oregon supposed to know the details? Even more pressingly, how can they stay in compliance?

We have two suggestions to help:

Use your continuing education hours to brush up on the code

Throughout Oregon, residential contractors and key employees of commercial contracting businesses are required to regularly complete continuing education. 


(Interested in starting a CCB continuing education course soon? Go to this page for a list of Oregon contractor CE training you need to keep your license current.)


Since you need these hours anyway, you may as well use them to get updates about the Oregon building codes that apply to you. That way, your course provider does all the legwork of sifting through the code to pull what’s relevant, and all you need to do is pay attention during your already-required CE hours. 

In many cases, you can even take these code-specific CE hours online. Residential builders, for example, can take this eight-hour online, on-demand building code course to get many of the hours they need for license renewal. The course focuses on the Oregon Residential Specialty Code. (Keep in mind, though, that you always need three CCB-taught hours per renewal cycle.)

Revisit the relevant webpage regularly 

As we mentioned, it can be helpful to bookmark the relevant code pages from the Building Codes Division website. At the top of the page, you might see a box with a red header that says “News and Updates.” This is your quick overview of any changes the Division might be working to implement that can affect your work. By checking this regularly, you get a heads-up about any changes before they get adopted into Oregon building codes, giving you more time to prepare if you’ll need to make any adjustments to comply. 

For example, residential builders should know that the Division is currently working to adopt both the 2021 Oregon Residential Reach Code (ORRC) and the 2021 Oregon Residential Specialty Code (ORSC). On the Residential Structures Code Program webpage, there are links to follow that adoption process. There, you can watch videos of code review committee meetings and see proposals that were submitted, keeping you informed about potential code changes. 

Whether you’re a residential or commercial builder, it may serve you to bookmark and check the Energy Code Program webpage, too. It will keep you updated on the adoption of new energy efficiency-related codes that could impact your work. 

Ultimately, keeping up with Oregon building codes feels daunting. But by regularly checking the Building Codes Division website and using CE hours to stay educated about current codes, you can keep yourself informed and in compliance.