The "How to Open a Business in Sandy" Guide Step 5

Economic Development Dept: (503) 489-2159  •  Building Dept: (503) 668-0880

Step 5 – Remodeling Your Building

Like many retail businesses, you may decide that you need to physically modify certain parts of the interior of the building you've leased for your business.  This would include things like adding a bathroom, moving a non-load bearing wall, installing new light fixtures or a retail counter, replacing the windows or the flooring, installing a commercial kitchen, or a million other modifications.

This section only applies to changes made to the interior of an existing building.  Changes to the parking, landscaping, and exterior of an existing building triggers the design review process; if you have changes to make in any of these areas, please contact the Planning Desk at (503) 668-2160 for instructions on how to proceed.

If you do wish to make physical changes to the interior of your new space and you did not discuss this with the Building Official during your fire/life safety inspection, schedule a meeting with the Building Official by calling the Building Desk (503-668-0880).  When the Building Official arrives, explain to him in detail what you plan to do. He will let you know:

-->  What kinds of city, county, state and federal regulations apply to your plans

-->  What kinds of permits you will need from the City of Sandy to complete the work

When to consider getting professional advice

Commercial remodeling projects can get complicated quickly depending on the age and condition of the building and the type of business moving into the space.  Just like in the world of residential real estate, there are professional commercial inspection services that can evaluate the condition of a space, help you to estimate the cost of a proposed project and let you know what will be legally required by various layers of government to operate your business.  While not required by the City of Sandy, we do believe that consulting with a private commercial inspector is wise and can end up saving you money in the long run by helping you to avoid making expensive mistakes or omissions during your remodel.  However, we strongly recommend consulting with a commercial inspector for any project involving a restaurant, brewery or distillery, or any business involving food or beverage production, as these types of businesses are more heavily regulated by governments in general and have much more room for error over the course of a project.


Permits are required by law when making physical changes to the interior of a commercial property.  There are three types of City permits and one type of county permit you may encounter when customizing your property:

City of Sandy Building permit:

-->  Required for: building a wall, installing or replacing doors and windows, or any other type of new construction.

-->  For a building permit fee schedule, click here.

City of Sandy Plumbing permit:

-->  Required for: moving or adding plumbing or plumbing fixtures, replacing or repairing sewer or drain lines, adding or replacing a water heater, adding a grease interceptor, re-piping, etc.

-->  For a plumbing permit fee schedule, click here.

City of Sandy Mechanical permit:

-->  Required for:  Erecting, installing, enlarging, altering, repairing, removing, converting or replacing mechanical heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems.  These include, but are not limited to furnaces, heat pumps, air-conditioning units, range hoods, cooling towers, chillers, fuel-oil tanks and piping system, and boilers.

-->  For a mechanical permit fee schedule, click here.

Clackamas County Electrical permit:

-->  Required for:  Any work on an electrical installation. "’Electrical installation’ means the construction or installation of electrical wiring and the permanent attachment or installation of electrical products in or on any structure that is not itself an electrical product. ‘Electrical installation’ also means the maintenance or repair of installed electrical wiring and permanently attached electrical products.” (from Oregon Revised Statute 479.530)

-->  Note:  This permit is issued by Clackamas County – the above link to the electrical permit application also contains contact information for the County’s Electrical Division.  For Clackamas County electrical permit fees, please call the Clackamas Co. electrical permit specialist at (503) 742-4240.

Things that don’t typically require permitting:

Painting & wallpapering; tile work; drywall repair; attic insulation; repairing or replacing carpet, flooring, trim, interior molding; "non-fixed and movable fixtures, cases, racks, counters, and partitions not over 5 feet 9 inches"; replacing doors IF the dimensions don't change; cabinets & counter tops; replacing light fixtures IF there are no changes to the building's wiring, etc.

Once the Building Official has advised you as to what permits you will need, you may go to the appropriate links in the section above and access the permit applications on the City’s website.  Print out the application, fill it out, and turn it in to the Building Desk at City Hall.  If you have any questions about the permit applications, please call the Building Desk at (503) 668-0880.

When you or your contractor have completed the work, call the Building Inspection Line at (503) 668-6941 and schedule a final inspection.  If completed according to the specifications the Building Official gave you, he will sign off on your permits and you will be receive your Certificate of Occupancy and your business license.

link Go back to Step 4: Meet with the Building Official