Permits: When, What, Who & Why?

A building permit is required for the construction, enlargement, alteration, repair, moving, demolition or change in the use of a building or structure, or the erection, installation, enlargement, alteration, repair, removal, conversion, or replacement of any gas, mechanical, electrical or plumbing system, or other equipment, the installation of which is regulated by the code.

Click here for information about all permit types issued through Construction Services & Inspections.

The owner, owner’s authorized agent, or the person causing the work to be done is responsible to obtain the permit. Permits are issued in accordance with MN contractor licensing regulations.

Click here for a list of exceptions when a permit is not required. 

The building code is established by the state of Minnesota to protect health, safety, and general welfare through structural strength, means of egress facilities, stability, sanitation, adequate light and ventilation, energy conservation, and safety to life and property from fire and other hazards attributed to the building environment and to provide safety to firefighters and emergency responders during emergency operations.

Other reasons to obtain permits.

Compliance with the building code is required by Minnesota statute and local ordinance. There are other benefits to obtaining permits.

It keeps your contractor honest.

To beat out the price of a competitor, a profit-driven contractor might be tempted to cut corners. Would you know it if they did? Most construction work ends up hidden behind walls and under floors. A building permit requires that a contractor use sound and safe methods and materials; and inspections assure you that they do so.

The code can guide your do-it-yourself project.

No matter how handy you are, you aren't likely to know everything required by the building, electrical, plumbing, or mechanical (HVAC) code. When you get a permit and required inspections, you'll have to show the building department your plans and workmanship. If the plan or your work is not code compliant, you will be asked to revise them. But if you never apply for a permit, you might go ahead with work that's dangerous or unsound.

Obtaining permits may keep your insurance valid.

Building done without a permit can mean that your insurance company may not honor your policy. A fire resulting from work without a permit could leave you without an insurance settlement. If someone falls off a deck that was built without a permit, your liability insurance may not cover the injuries.

Documentation that work and inspections were done in accordance with the code can add value when you sell your home.

If you perform work without a permit, you can assume a potential buyer will know about it. Construction Services receives many inquiries about a home's permit history prior to a buyer making a purchase offer. The permit process is a matter of public record. In addition, you may be required to sign a Property Disclosure Statement, in which you have to reveal all problems or defects in the property. Having all the necessary permits makes the sale proceed much more smoothly.

How do I obtain a permit?

Click here for information about the permit process.