Minnesota Construction & Building Permit Laws

When is a Permit Required?

One of the first steps to any successful construction project is to obtain the necessary building permits. Building permits are regulated locally and will vary depending on the town or city your project is located in. Generally, you will need a building permit for any new construction, reconstruction, or structural change to an existing building in Minnesota. This might even include detached structures such as fences or decks. Substantial electrical and plumping work will also likely require a permit.

Obtaining a Building Permit in Minnesota

In order to obtain a building permit in Minnesota, you need to file an application with the local government in the town where the property in question is located. Every town and city in Minnesota has a building division or permit office that is responsible for reviewing building plans and issuing the appropriate permits. In some instances, you may also need to apply for a permit from the county government as well. For instance, in Dakota County, the various cities and towns are responsible for issuing building permits but the county itself is responsible for issuing any permits for construction projects taking place within designated shoreland or floodplain areas. An application will at the very least require you to disclose your address, a legal description of the property, and a description of the scope of the proposed project.

When attempting to obtain building permits, it is important to involve a lawyer as soon as any problems arise so that all potential options are preserved and not waived. Local governments might sometimes attempt to impose excessive fees or certain conditions in exchange for a permit. Under Minnesota law, all fees and conditions must be directly related to the impact created by the proposed development. Furthermore, the fourteenth amendment and the Minnesota Constitution require that “one applicant not be preferred over another for reasons unexpressed or unrelated to the health, welfare, or safety of the community or any other particular and permissible standards or conditions imposed by the relevant zoning ordinances.” Northwestern College v. City of Arden Hills, 281 N.W.2d 865, 869 (Minn.1979).

Most cities throughout Minnesota will have resources online to provide more information about applying for building permits within their jurisdictions. For example, Minneapolis has online resources at http://www.minneapolismn.gov/mdr/buildingpermits/index.htm to help guide individuals through the building permit process.