Construction Services & Inspections

About Plan Review

Plan review is part of the permitting process to ensure that the project you plan to build complies with building and other codes BEFORE construction begins. Adjustments to plans are less costly and time consuming than making changes during construction, which is why state and local rules require plan review before we can issue construction permits.

Construction Services will review for compliance with the building code and basic zoning regulations. Other city divisions may review for conformance with regulations they administer, such as permitted land uses, site development standards, utilities, street and storm water management plans, fire code and rental licensing rules. Construction Services’ Permit Coordinators will route your plans to all of the appropriate reviewers and track the status of approvals from all.

Everyone wants the plan review process to go quickly. Plan reviews for some projects only take a part of a day. Others take several days. It depends on the completeness of information in the plans, the level of compliance of the design, and the complexity of the project.

When you submit your plans to Construction Services, your Permit Coordinator will work with you to go over the items and the checklist for your project. This is the same checklist we make available to you so you know what we need to do our review. If any items are missing, Permit Coordinator may put the application on hold until you provide all required items. We do this so that plan review can proceed as quickly and smoothly as possible. Be smart! Use the appropriate checklist to carefully assemble the package of items needed for your project before submitting to Construction Services. Here, find the Residential Plan Intake Checklist and the Commercial & Multi-Family Plan Intake Checklist. For other types of projects, like decks, garages, fill and grading, residential solar installations, or manufactured homes, look for the application packet in our Document Library or call a Permit Coordinator at 218-730-5240

Once the application package is complete, your plans will be placed in queue for plan review. We generally work through the queue of plans in the order they are submitted, but we do try to get simple, quick reviews turned around quickly. We evaluate our workload every morning, and at that time, we determine the date by which we expect to start the plan review. Your Permit Coordinator will send you an email letting you know that expected start-by date. We start plan reviews as soon as we can, usually between a couple of days and a couple of weeks of a complete plan package. Please factor this into your project schedule.

At the same time that we are determining the date by which we think we can start reviews, the Permit Coordinator are determining which types of reviews are required for your project. For example, some projects need to be reviewed by Engineering, Planning/Zoning, and the Fire Marshal. Others only need to be reviewed by Construction Services. Permit Coordinator will route your plans to all appropriate reviewers and track the status of reviews.

Plan review may result in questions about the plans, a request for more information, or the need for corrections and resubmittal of the plans. Plan reviewers usually use email to reach out to you or your designer during the review process. It is important to respond promptly to plan reviewers so that the project can keep moving forward through the approval process.

Plan reviewers will usually prepare a Plan Review Comment sheet to document minor corrections, conditions of approval, list items that have been approved as delayed submittals, and to point out things to keep in mind during construction. The Plan Review Comment sheet will be attached to the front of the site copy of the approved plans.

Once plans are approved by all of the reviewers, and the Permit Coordinator working on your project will contact you by email to let you know what fees are due and that the permit is ready. You will receive one of the copies of the reviewed plans, which must be kept on the job site for use by the inspectors.

The most effective things that can be done to speed up plan review are to make sure that the plans include a clear, complete, accurate code summary and life safety plan and that the details of construction are included in the plans. Plan reviewers are looking at compliance from both a big picture and detailed perspective. Lack of details will trigger the need for questions, second submittals, and possibly problems with construction in the field.

Another smart step, especially for commercial and multi-family residential projects, is to schedule a pre-review meeting with plans examiners. This is an opportunity to introduce your project to the reviewer and other code officials, ask questions, and find out about any red flags or big issues that can affect your project. To schedule a pre-review meeting, use the request form here.

Your plan reviewer will remain involved in your project, working closely with inspectors who will use the reviewed plans to verify that the work is done as shown on the approved plans and in compliance with codes. If changes are made to the plans during construction, which is typical, revisions must be submitted for review. For commercial and multi-family residential projects, the design professional will use a Plan Change Submittal form, found here, to describe the changes that are proposed. Changes to the plans must be approved before the work can be done in the field, so it is important for the contractor, design professional, inspector and plan reviewer to communicate well during construction.