Construction Services & Inspections

The Permit Process

The flow chart below shows, in very simple terms, the permitting process for a project that requires plan review. Most of the time, when plan review is not required, the process only takes a few steps. Some projects are more complicated and require more steps than shown here. Contact us during the planning phase of your project, so we can help you understand and navigate through the process.


Research The Project
Submit Application
CSI Routes Application and Plans for Review by City Departments
City Reviews Plans
Submittal Complete and compiles with Code?
Applicant Corrects/Revises Plan Collect Fees, Issue Permit
Applicant Begins Construction/Calls for Inspection as Required
Work Inspected Complies with Approved Plans and Code?
Applicant Corrects the Work/Calls for Re-Inspection Inspectors Approve Work
City Issues Final Approval, C of O, or Letter of Completion as Applicable
  • Browse Construction Services’ web pages to gather information related to your project.
  • Stop in to the Construction Services office in City Hall and talk with a Permit Coordinator about your project. The Permit Coordinator will pull up maps and other information and help you understand what code requirements will apply to your project. They will explain the permitting process and the information that needs to be submitted with a building permit application. The Permit Coordinator can let you know whether a design professional is required to design your project based on Minnesota rules. If you are considering moving your business into an existing building, The Permit Coordinator can help you find out the previously approved use of the space. The Permit Coordinator will help you research the permitted land uses in the location of your project and will explain any special Planning Commission or other approvals needed.
  • Read the handout information and checklists to prepare your submittal package.

For Businesses

  • Even if you do not plan to do construction, if your project is moving a business into an existing space, you will probably need approval to make the change. Contact a Plans Examiner to talk about the details of your project to get a preliminary idea about whether the space will need to be sprinklered, whether accessibility will be required, and other major code related work that may be required, so you can decide whether this is the right building for you.
  • Most commercial projects require an architect or other Minnesota licensed design profession to design the project and prepare plans. Design professionals can be of great assistance in the early, research phases of a project. An architect can help you make the right choice about the building or site you choose for your business or construction project.
  • When you’ve chosen a site, worked with your architect, and have plans developed for your project, schedule a Pre-Review Meeting with Construction Services Plan Reviewers. This gives you and your design team an opportunity to meet with city staff before a final project design is complete. The design team can introduce the project to reviewers and ask any questions related to building, zoning, fire, stormwater, utilities, and other engineering codes and regulations.

Go to the Construction Services’ Permit Types Table for links to applications, checklists, and information packets for all permit types. Use the checklists to compile a complete submittal package. Submit to the Construction Services office in Room 100, Duluth City Hall.

The Permit Coordinator assigned to your project will route your application and plans as efficiently as possible to Construction Services Plans Examiners, as well as to all of the departments that need to review it, such as Engineering, Planning/Zoning and the Fire Marshal. The Permit Coordinator will be your point of contact throughout the permitting process, and will work to keep you informed as your project progresses.

Your application and plans will be reviewed for compliance with codes and other requirements.

If reviewers need more information or if plans require corrections, they will contact you and your design team. Construction Services’ Plans Examiners will usually use email to provide plan review comments.

If corrections are needed, the applicant (or design professional) will revise the plans and resubmit.

Once all information is provided and has been reviewed for compliance with applicable codes and other requirements, the applicant will be notified by the Permit Coordinator that the review process is complete, and informed of any fees that are due.

All permit, plan review, and other fees related to the project are due at the time the permit is issued.

The Permit Coordinator will collect the fees and assemble the site copy of the approved plans. These will include a plan review cover sheet, as well as other documents that are part of the approved plan set. The Permit Coordinator will provide inspector contact information.

The permit, and site copy of approved plans must be on the job site for inspectors at all times.

  • For complete details about inspections, including what inspections are required, check out the Inspections webpage.
  • Inspections must be requested 24-hours prior to the desired inspection time. If an inspection is requested less than 24-hours in advance, the inspector will try to accommodate requests as scheduling and staffing allows.
  • Inspectors can typically be reached between 7am and 4pm, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.
  • Inspectors will look for compliance with applicable codes and with the approved plans.
  • If an inspection results in the need for correction, the inspector will inform the permit holder verbally or in writing.
  • Once corrections are made, the inspector will re-inspect. When all work is completed, a final inspection is required. When all work complies with approved plans and codes, the final inspection will be approved.

The building, fire, and zoning codes require that a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) is issued prior to occupancy of a building. When a building is new or it changes occupancy, the construction inspector will initiate issuance of a C of O after the final inspection. This process may take up to three business days. It will be emailed it to the person who requested it, unless a hard copy is specifically requested.

A Letter of Completion states that the permitted work has been completed when a Certificate of Occupancy is not needed, and will be initiated by the construction inspector after final inspections are complete.