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August 2018

Oregon Construction Law Update

Recently, the Oregon legislature has enacted some new laws that impact Oregon’s construction industry. The following summaries are selections of particular interest.

  • “Tiny Home” Building Standards. In 2017, in recognition of the recent “Tiny Home” craze, the Oregon legislature passed HB 2737. HB 2737 requires Oregon’s Building Codes Division to adopt construction standards for “small homes” by no later than January 1, 2018. “Small homes” are defined as dwellings that are 600 square feet or less. Pursuant to HB 2737, the Building Codes Division adopted temporary new rules on December 22, 2017, which amended the Oregon Residential Specialty Code to specifically allow for the use of sleeping lofts and ladders or alternating tread devices in small homes. The Building Codes Division is currently following up the temporary rule with a permanent rulemaking process – no “small” feat!
  • Requirements to Employ Apprentices on Certain Projects. In an effort to increase training and opportunity for tradesman, the 2017 Oregon legislature passed HB 2162. HB 2162 mandates that state contracting agencies (with the exception of the Oregon Department of Transportation) that award general contracts in excess of $5 million, or subcontracts in excess of $1 million or 25 percent of the contract price, to employ apprentices to perform at least 10% of the work. These requirements will become more stringent in 2022, by expanding to general contracts in excess of $3 million, and requiring apprentices to perform at least 12 percent of the work associated with such contracts. The requirements for subcontractors will not change. HB 2162 went into effect on January 1, 2018.
  • Demolishing Buildings that Contain Lead or Asbestos. To help keep Oregon healthy, SB 871, which went into effect on January 1, 2018, allows any Oregon city to establish a program by ordinance that requires a contractor demolishing a building built before 1978 to submit proof that it is certified by the Oregon Health Authority (“OHA”), to engage in lead-based paint activities. A program established pursuant to SB 871 must require the contractor performing the demolition to follow best practices developed by OHA, the Department of Environmental Quality and the CCB. The requirements do not apply if a qualified person determines that the building does not contain lead-based paint. The demolition contractor must also obtain an asbestos survey. Since the law went into effect, many cities across the state of Oregon have passed ordinances implementing SB 871. The City of Portland passed such an ordinance on February 1, 2018.
  • Streamlining Licensing Requirements for Contractors in Rural Areas. In an effort to increase and maintain employment in Oregon’s construction industry, Governor Kate Brown signed HB 4144 into law on April 3, 2018. HB 4144 eliminates licensing fees and training requirements for individuals with at least eight years of professional experience who apply for residential general or residential specialty contractor licenses. The law also waives the state’s $375 plumbing and $150 electrical contractor licensing fees for individuals who meet the same criteria. Finally, HB 4144 offers entrepreneurial development loans from Business Oregon and the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to applicants who plan to operate outside of the Willamette Valley (Oregon’s most populated region). The new rules will go into effect on January 1, 2019.


Brian J. Kernan