Building & Inspections FAQs


 Why do I need a permit?

Some people may think obtaining a permit means extra costs, time delays and unwarranted regulations. However, a permit ensures proper services are provided to safeguard life, health, property and public welfare. For most people, their home is their most important investment. If work is done improperly, your home can become unsafe for you and your family, and may lose value.

Realtors and lenders know the law requires homeowners to have proper permits for home remodeling and construction, and often require documentation when selling a house. If work was completed without a permit, you may be required to go back for permits, inspections and additional repair work to meet minimum code standards.

 When do I need a permit?

Building permits are required to construct, add to, alter, remove, demolish or repair a structure. Permits are required for any alterations, additions or remodeling to your home, garage or any other structure. Permits are also required for basement finishes, re-roofing, re-siding, window and door replacement, swimming pools, garages, sheds decks, gazebos, porches, etc. A building permit is required before you begin construction.

Mechanical permits are required for the installation or replacement of mechanical equipment in new and existing structures. This includes air conditioners, air to air exchangers, duct work, and furnaces or boilers in any structure.

Fireplace permits are required for new or existing structures.

Plumbing permits are required for new construction or alterations in existing structures. Plumbing permits are also required for water heater replacement and lawn irrigation/sprinkler systems.

Septic pumping permits are required to pump a septic tank. The licensed septic pumper will obtain the permit. The cost of the pumping permit is on the current City Fee Schedule. 

Septic installation permits are required to install or repair septic systems. A septic system design must be designed by a Minnesota certified septic system designer and submitted to the city by a licensed septic installer. After the septic system has been approved and the permit fee is paid, a permit is issued to the licensed installer. The licensed installer is responsible for scheduling the required inspections.

A full list of when a permit is required can be found on the State's website, under section 1300-0120.

 How do I get a permit and arrange for inspection?

Permit applications for building projects can be found online. The homeowner must call City Offices to arrange for the required inspections and the work must not be covered before it has been inspected and approved. If a contractor is hired, the contractor is required to obtain the permit and work with City staff to make sure the work is completed according to code.

Plans must be submitted for any structural and some nonstructural work that is being completed:  For example decks, porches, additions, basement finishes, garages, and sheds over 200 sq.ft.

Building department services are now being provided by MNSPECT.  If you have any questions about a building project, please call a MNSPECT employee at 651-419-9012.  The process of applying for a building department permit remains the same as prior to the switch to MNSPECT.

 How do I reach the electrical inspector?

 Who can I get to do a point of sale septic compliance inspection, pump/maintain my septic system or conduct a soil boring?

To search for local contacts, use the MN Pollution Control Agency SSTS (Subsurface Sewage Treatment System) form.  When prompted, fill in the county section (Anoka, Washington, etc.).

In the "Specialty Area" section choose:

  • Maintainer for pumping
  • Designer for soil borings or SSTS design
  • Inspector for compliance inspections for point of sale

 Useful Links

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry have educational materials relating to the construction trade and industry.  If you don't find what you're looking for below, check out their website for additional information.