FAQs

FAQs2017-06-04T20:06:32-05:00
Can I call someone if I have a question about the class, or class registration?2018-08-10T11:51:55-05:00

Yes, you can call local or toll free!
Phone: 952-442-7520
Toll Free: 888-446-1801

If I am late to class, can I still get full credit?2017-12-14T15:20:20-05:00

Because of State Continuing Education regulations, in order to receive credit for taking a class you must be on time. You will not be given partial credit for partial attendance.

What are the Most Common Rental Housing Violations?2017-11-03T13:49:31-05:00
  • Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors in disrepair or missing
  • Missing or damaged screens
  • Infestation
  • Weeds and grass is to long
  • Electrical outlets and switches missing covers
  • Wood Deterioration
  • Flaking or peeling wall coverings
  • Missing address/unit numbers
  • Electrical panel not properly labeled and/or open breaker slots
  • Water heater temperature and pressure relief valve is not plumbed correctly
  • Leaking plumbing fixtures
  • Improper plumbing repairs
Who needs to be present at the time of inspection?2017-10-07T16:10:48-05:00

Someone must be present to allow access to the unit. The owner, manager, and/or tenant must accompany the inspector. Attending the inspection benefits all parties and insures a better understanding of the health and safety issues and repair expectations.

What if the violations are not corrected within the time period provided?2017-10-07T16:09:33-05:00

If the property owner has not complied with the notice, then the City can initiate Code Enforcement action. The goal is to obtain voluntary compliance but enforcement actions include, but are not limited to, assessment of administrative penalties, charging of re-inspection fees, referring property information to the District Attorney, etc.

What happens if violations are noted during the inspection?2017-10-07T16:08:44-05:00

Property owners will be issued a notice listing specific code violation found in each unit along with any exterior code violations. The property owners notice will provide a specified time period in which the violations are to be corrected.

What is inspected?2017-10-07T16:07:02-05:00

The following are typical items that an inspector may look for during the inspection. This list is not a complete list of items checked during an inspection, but is intended to be a helpful tool.

  • Exterior of Property
    1. Exterior grounds clean of trash, debris, high grass and leaves.
    2. Outside of house clean, trim, and neat (not peeling, chipping or worn). Exterior walls free from holes and breaks.
    3. Roof, chimney, siding, gutters and downspouts all intact and clean with no missing pieces or obstructions.
    4. Handrails and stairs used for egress.
    5. Decks and handrails secured and free from loose or rotten boards.
    6. Patios, balconies and walkways secured and in satisfactory condition (no loose or broken concrete or railings).
  • Interior of Property
    1. Rental unit maintained in good repair, structurally sound and in sanitary condition
    2. All rooms painted, free of peeling or chipping. All surfaces, including basements, clear of mold and mildew.
    3. All interior stairs and railings maintained in sound condition and good repair.
    4. All floors and floor coverings free of any tripping hazards and weak sub floors (no raised edges, open seams or tears).
    5. Every bathroom must have a window or a working ventilation fan exhausted to the exterior.
    6. Closets have doors, poles and shelves secured. Sliding closet doors have door guides secured to the floor.
    7. The unit must be free from infestation by rodents, vermin and/or insects of any kind.
  • Windows
    1. There shall be at least one window in every bedroom and living room.
    2. Every operable window shall be easily opened and capable of being held in position by window hardware.
    3. Window locking devices in proper working order.
    4. No loose or missing glass or glazing; no chipping or peeling paint.
    5. All operable windows must have screens that are free from tears and holes.
  • Doors
    1. Doors providing access to a rental unit shall be equipped with a doorknob and exterior key lock only.
    2. Sliding patio doors shall open and close easily, have a working lock and an operating screen free from tears and holes.
    3. All doors must be free from holes and otherwise in sound condition.
    4. All bedrooms and bathrooms must have a privacy door.
    5. Doors must open and close freely and latch properly within the frame.
  • Appliances and Utilities
    1. The cooking range must be clean and operable with all control knobs and handles. Gas stove burners must light by pilot jets without the use of incendiary devices (Matches, lighter, etc…)
    2. The refrigerator must be clean and in working condition.
    3. There shall be adequate space for the preparation and storage of food.
    4. The electrical switches and outlets must operate properly. There shall be no electrical hazards of any kind such as missing or broken cover plates or fixtures, exposed wiring, etc…
    5. The gas must be operable and in working order. Furnaces and hot water heaters must be properly vented and sealed.
    6. Plumbing fixtures shall be in working order and provide adequate water pressure with hot and cold running water in the kitchen and bathroom(s). There must be a shower or bathtub that is in working order properly caulked with no mildew or mold.
    7. Toilet must operate properly and be in sound condition connected to a public sewer or approved private sewage disposal system.
    8. The water supply shall be free from contamination with no leaks in any faucet, pipe or under any sink.
    9. The heating system shall be safe and sufficient to provide heat during the heating season. The heating unit must be properly installed and vented and otherwise in good working order.
  • Fire and carbon monoxide devices
    1. Smoke detectors must be properly installed and in working order.
    2. Carbon monoxide detectors must be properly installed and in working order.
    3. A Fire Extinguisher is required in single-family dwellings and duplexes. It shall be at least a 2A:10B:C, rated for residential use and hung in a visible location within 10 feet of the kitchen area, on higher than 5 feet above the floor.
MNSPECT Lines of Business2017-12-26T09:23:56-05:00

If you are looking for a code expert to:

  • Assist you with plan reviews
  • Assist you with inspections
  • Act as your Department of Building Safety
  • Consult with you
  • Teach you something
  • Perform property inspections

Look at our Lines of Business to learn more:

  1. Department of Building Safety
  2. Property Inspections
  3. Consulting
  4. Continuing Education
  5. Wall Bracing
  6. Back up work for existing Departments of Building Safety
MNSPECT Standards of Service2017-06-07T19:14:42-05:00

We have specific standards  – defined and identified.

  • Plan review checklists
  • Plan review turn-around times
  • Inspection checklists
  • Inspection timelines
  • Courteous staff on the phones
  • Courteous field inspectors
MNSPECT Transparency2017-06-07T19:12:43-05:00

Transparency is key to understanding regulatory processes.

We strive to ensure that valuation + fee calculations, submittal requirements, plan review status, inspection results, and other public elements of the permitting process are transparent and understood.

MNSPECT Educational Philosophy2017-06-07T19:10:39-05:00

We believe education those that use or are regulated by the code is essential to mutual success.

The code is often mysterious or unknown.  We believe that helping to educate homeowners, contractors and design professionals about the specifics of the code’s requirements, and, where possible, the reason those requirements exist – helps everyone succeed in the long run.

MNSPECT Integrity2017-06-07T19:06:45-05:00

The quality of honesty and having strong moral principles.  We strive to treat everyone equally.  Our plan reviews and inspection procedures are documented with checklists, to ensure that we do our job consistently, thoroughly and completely.

The code is a minimum standard.  We are obligated to enforce the code. However, we do not have the authority to exceed the minimum requirements of the MN state building code.

What is the benefit of my community working with MNSPECT?2017-06-04T20:43:19-05:00

MNSPECT’s highly qualified, certified and experience staff serves as the ‘Quality Control’ for building activity as a communities’ Building Official.

MNSPECT provides superior service to home owners, building owners, contractors and municipality officials that result in safer, stronger communities that can be confident in their building activity.

MNSPECT provides cost effective services and solutions that result in high quality services for communities, residents and contractors, with a positive impact on community budgets.

Who is MNSPECT?2017-06-04T20:42:41-05:00

MNSPECT provides Designated Building Official/Department of Building Safety Services for Minnesota communities.  We work with home and building owners, contractors and local officials to help assure safe, quality building results benefitting the entire community.

MNSPECT provides Permit Application, Plan Review, Permitting, Building Inspections, Code Enforcement and Education and Activity Reporting – and more – for the communities we serve.

MNSPECT’s highly qualified, certified and experience staff serves as the ‘Quality Control’ for building activity as a communities’ Building Official.

MNSPECT has been providing Building Official services since 1987 serving more than 30 Minnesota communities, issuing permits, conducting plan reviews and conducting inspections to insure the Minnesota Building Code and local ordinances are met.

What if the inspector missed something?2017-06-04T20:42:05-05:00

Answer Coming Soon

Why can’t the inspector just tell me how to do my project?2017-06-04T20:41:41-05:00

Answer Coming Soon

What do I do if I don’t agree with the inspector?2017-06-04T20:41:15-05:00

Answer Coming Soon

Do I need to do anything after my final inspection?2017-06-04T20:40:44-05:00

Answer Coming Soon

Can I have an inspector visit the site prior to submitting a permit application?2017-06-04T20:40:13-05:00

Answer Coming Soon

If I fail an inspection will I be charged for a re-inspection?2017-06-04T20:39:42-05:00

Answer Coming Soon

What needs to be available at the time of inspection?2017-06-04T20:39:12-05:00

Answer Coming Soon

What type of inspections must I be home for?2017-06-04T20:38:42-05:00

Answer Coming Soon

How long does an inspection take?2017-10-07T16:11:28-05:00

Approximately 30 minutes per unit but may take longer if conditions warrant a more thorough inspection

Can I have multiple inspections completed at one time?2017-06-04T20:37:34-05:00

Answer Coming Soon

I am working over the weekend – how can I get an inspection?2017-06-04T20:37:04-05:00

Answer Coming Soon

When do I call for an inspection?2017-06-04T20:34:22-05:00

Answer Coming Soon

What training/credentials do inspectors have?2017-06-04T20:33:50-05:00

Answer Coming Soon

What is the point of inspections?2017-06-04T20:33:16-05:00

Answer Coming Soon

When do I need an architect or engineer involved in my project?2017-06-04T20:32:42-05:00

Answer Coming Soon

How are the fees calculated?2017-06-04T20:32:11-05:00

Answer Coming Soon

What is plan review for?2017-06-04T20:31:28-05:00

Answer Coming Soon

When is engineering required on a project?2017-06-04T20:30:59-05:00

Answer Coming Soon

What information is required on submitted plans?2017-06-04T20:30:27-05:00

Two sets of plans and/or a scope or work are required for plan review.  Plans generally require a drawing which includes the existing structure, proposed changes, measurements, etc.  Although they do not always need to be drawn to scale, they do need to have the measurements marked, and they should include materials used and how those materials will be installed.  The more detail, the better.  Basically, the plans should be drawn in such a way that someone else could use them to build exactly what the plans were intended to build.

A scope of work can sometimes be submitted for smaller projects such as commercial reroofs, resides, windows and doors.  Again, see our handouts for more information, and for Scope of Work forms related to particular project types.

Is the valuation of my permit the same as the tax assessor’s valuation?2017-06-04T20:29:06-05:00

Answer Coming Soon

How do I determine the valuation for my project?2017-06-04T20:28:35-05:00

MN Rules Chapter 1300.0160  states “The applicant for a permit shall provide an estimated value at time of application.  Permit valuations shall include total value of all construction work, including materials and labor, for which the permit is being issued, such as electrical, gas, mechanical, plumbing equipment and permanent systems.”

If a property owner is doing his/her own work, the valuation should include what it would cost to pay someone to perform the work.  If a property owner has all or some of the materials donated, second hand, or at a favored discount, the valuation should include the cost of the materials if they were purchased.  This is done to keep the permit fees fair for everyone, so that if two people were building the same deck, for instance, the cost of the permit would be the same – even if one person was building the deck himself with free materials, and the other had to pay a contractor and purchase materials.

What happens if I do work without a permit?2017-06-04T20:27:35-05:00

Answer Coming Soon

Can I start my project before I get my permit?2017-06-04T20:27:06-05:00

Answer Coming Soon

Does my building permit cover the electrical, mechanical and plumbing work I will be doing?2017-11-03T15:19:28-05:00

Separate permits are required for any plumbing, mechanical or electrical work you’ll be doing in the course of your project.  Residential plumbing and mechanical permits can be obtained over the counter; commercial plumbing and mechanical projects need to go through plan review (so please allow for the extra time required).  Electrical permits can be obtained over the internet or by emailing or faxing in a permit application, depending on your municipality.

When does a permit expire?2017-06-04T20:25:58-05:00

Permits are good for 180 days from the date of issuance, or from the date of the last inspection.  In other words, you need to be ready for your first inspection within six months of receiving your permit, and you should be ready for another inspection every six months after that (or sooner, of course!).

If you find your project delayed for unexpected reasons, you can apply for an extension.  This doesn’t increase the cost of your permit, but the Building Official does have discretion in granting extensions – so you’ll probably need a better reason than “I just didn’t get around to it.”

How long will it take to receive a permit?2018-02-22T15:32:37-05:00

Some permits for residential maintenance work and mechanical or plumbing work may be issued immediately over the counter.  For example:

  • Re-Roofing
  • Re-Siding
  • Re-Window or exterior door change outs (same size and style being installed in the same opening)
  • Air Conditioner
  • Boiler
  • Dishwasher
  • Dryer
  • Range
  • Fireplace
  • Furnace
  • Gasline
  • Lawn Irrigation System
  • Sink
  • Toilet
  • Unit Heater
  • Washing Machine
  • Water Heater
  • Water Softener

Residential permit applications with a scope of work other that the projects listed above must be submitted with detailed plans and/or a scope of work, and may take up to 10 business days to be reviewed for compliance with the building code.

All commercial permit applications must be submitted with detailed plans and/or a scope of work, and may take up to 15 business days to be reviewed.

If your permit application submittal information is complete, the process of review goes much more smoothly and there is less chance of delay while we contact you or your contractor for additional information.  Our handouts on a variety of building subjects can be a great help in making sure your plans and application will have all the information that the plans examiner needs, so it’s a good idea to check them out.

What will my permit cost?2017-06-04T20:23:54-05:00

There are two types of permit fees.

The first type of permit fee is valuation based, which means the fee is based on the total value of all construction work, including materials and labor, for which the permit is being issued. Valuation based fees are calculated using a fee schedule approved by your municipality.

The second type of permit fee is a fixed fee.  This is a flat fee established and approved by your municipality.

MN Rules, Chapter 1300.0160 states:  “Building permit fees shall be based on valuation.”  It allows for the following exceptions:

  1. one- and two-family dwelling maintenance permits for roofing, siding, windows, doors, or other minor projects may be charged a fixed fee; and
  2. permits for plumbing, mechanical, electrical, or other building service equipment systems may be based on valuation or charged a fixed fee.
Do I need a permit for a fence?2017-11-03T15:21:57-05:00

Residential fences not over seven feet high, measured from grade to the highest point of the fence, are exempt from requiring a building permit. Call us at 952-442-7520 if the proposed fence is on a commercial property.

Please note:  Your municipality may require a zoning permit.  You should check with your governing office before starting work.

Do I need a permit for a shed?2017-11-03T15:23:58-05:00

Sheds meeting the following requirements are exempt from requiring a building permit:  one-story detached accessory structures, used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses, and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 200 square feet.

Please note:  Your municipality may require a zoning permit.  You should check with your governing office before starting work.

What don’t I need a permit for?2017-11-03T15:26:36-05:00

MN Rules, Chapter 1300.0120 Subp. 4 lists the following exemptions:

  1. Building:
    1. one-story detached accessory structures, used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses, and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 200 square feet;
    2. fences not over seven feet high;
    3. oil derricks;
    4. retaining walls that are not over four feet in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge or impounding Class I, II, or III-A liquids;
    5. water tanks supported directly upon grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2 to 1;
    6. sidewalks and driveways that are not part of an accessible route;
    7. decks and platforms not more than 30 inches above adjacent grade and not attached to a structure with frost footings and which is not part of an accessible route;
    8. painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, countertops, and similar finish work;
    9. temporary motion picture, television, and theater stage sets and scenery;
    10. prefabricated swimming pools installed entirely above ground accessory to dwelling units constructed to the provisions of the International Residential Code or R-3 occupancies constructed to the provisions of the International Building Code, which do not exceed both 5,000 gallons in capacity and a 24-inch depth;
    11. window awnings supported by an exterior wall that do not project more than 54 inches from the exterior wall and do not require additional support, when constructed under the International Residential Code or Group R-3 and Group U occupancies constructed to the provisions of the International Building Code;
    12. movable cases, counters, and partitions not over five feet, nine inches in height; and
    13. swings and other playground equipment.

    Unless otherwise exempted, plumbing, electrical, and mechanical permits are required for subitems (1) to (13).

  2. Gas:
    1. portable heating, cooking, or clothes drying appliances;
    2. replacement of any minor part that does not alter approval of equipment or make the equipment unsafe; and
    3. portable fuel cell appliances that are not connected to a fixed piping system and are interconnected to a power grid.
  3. Mechanical:
    1. portable heating appliances;
    2. portable ventilation appliances and equipment;
    3. portable cooling units;
    4. steam, hot, or chilled water piping within any heating or cooling equipment regulated by this code;
    5. replacement of any part that does not alter approval of equipment or make the equipment unsafe;
    6. portable evaporative coolers;
    7. self-contained refrigeration systems containing ten pounds or less of refrigerant or that are actuated by motors of one horsepower or less; and
    8. portable fuel cell appliances that are not connected to a fixed piping system and are not interconnected to a power grid.
  4. Electrical:
    A municipality must not require an electrical permit if the work falls under the jurisdiction of the commissioner or if the work is exempt from inspection under Minnesota Statutes, section326B.36, subdivision 7. This exemption does not exempt the work from other State Building Code requirements relating to electrical equipment.In addition, MN Rules, Chapter 1300.0215 allows for the following plumbing work to be completed without a plumbing permit:Unless the plumbing work poses an unsanitary or hazardous condition, the administrative authority is authorized to waive the permit, inspection, and testing requirements for the following plumbing work performed in one- and two-family dwellings:

    1. the reconnection of an existing water supply line to a replacement appliance that does not involve the replacement or alteration of the existing water supply line;
    2. replacement of the internal working components of existing water closets, faucets, or valves;
    3. replacement of sink faucets when the work does not include alterations to the existing plumbing piping system; or
    4. replacement or resetting of water closets when the work does not include alterations to the existing plumbing piping systems.
What do I need a permit for?2017-06-04T20:09:14-05:00

The best answer to this question comes from MN Rules, Chapter 1300 – the administrative section of the building code:

1300.0120 PERMITS.

Subpart 1.  Required. An owner or authorized agent who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish, or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert, or replace any gas, mechanical, electrical, plumbing system, or other equipment, the installation of which is regulated by the code; or cause any such work to be done, shall first make application to the building official and obtain the required permit.

I am re-building a deck, fence, porch, etc. – same size/materials/design/location – do I need a permit?2017-06-04T20:08:39-05:00

Answer Coming Soon

Do I need a permit to change a toilet?2017-06-04T20:08:05-05:00

You may reset or replace a toilet without pulling a permit if the work does not include alterations to the existing plumbing piping system.  If your current toilet installation does not have a separate water shut-off valve, however, you are required to install one when you replace the toilet – and for that, you do need a permit.

My contractor wants me to apply for the permit – is that ok?2017-06-04T20:07:33-05:00

Because the permit applicant is responsible to ensure that the work is completed according to the code, we suggest that whenever possible, you pass this responsibility on to the contractor by having him apply for the permit.

Should I pay my contractor before the work is done?2017-06-04T20:02:41-05:00

We recommend that you hold at least a portion of the final payment until the contractor provides documentation that a final inspection has been successfully completed.  You can always call us at 952-442-7520 to check on the status of permits for your property.

How do I know if my contractor is licensed?2017-06-04T20:02:11-05:00

Just visit the License Lookup page:  https://secure.doli.state.mn.us/lookup/licensing.aspx.  It is easiest to search by using the license number, but you can also use a personal name or company name.  Once you locate your contractor, you can click the Detail button to see the status of their license and whether there is any enforcement action against the contractor.

Can I do my own work? Can my brother-in-law do the work?2017-06-04T20:01:35-05:00

If you are the property owner, you can do all of the building and mechanical work.  The plumbing code requires you to be currently living in the property in order for you to do the plumbing work – your brother-in-law can certainly HELP you, but unless he is living with you he should not be doing the work without you.  The electrical code requires that you are either living in the home or will be living in the home once the work is complete.  Your brother-in-law should not be helping you unless he is a licensed electrician; however, your mom or dad can help you – no one else.

Here’s another way to look at this answer:

Residential and you are living in the house now: You can do all of the building, plumbing, mechanical and electrical work.  Please note, the electric code allows for YOU to do the work yourself or with the assistance of your parent (friends, neighbors, or siblings cannot help you).
Residential new home and you WILL live in the house: You can do all of the building, mechanical, and electrical (same rules as above).  You will need to hire a licensed plumbing contractor to do the plumbing work.
Residential and you rent the house to others (EVEN IF they are living there rent-free): You can do the building and mechanical work.  You will need to hire a licensed plumbing contractor and licensed electrician to do the plumbing and electrical work.
Commercial properties: You can do the building and mechanical work.  You will need to hire a licensed plumbing contractor and licensed electrician to do plumbing and electrical work.
What if I want to be my own general contractor?2017-06-04T20:00:23-05:00

As a rule, we recommend you hire a licensed contractor to do any type of building, plumbing, mechanical, or electric work AND you require them to make application for the required permits.  The person making application for the permit ultimately is the party responsible for making sure that work is compliant with the code, and that inspections are scheduled.

There will be times when you are going to hire multiple contractors for different phases of a project, for example, one person to do the framing, another to do the insulation, and yet another for the drywall.  In these instances, the contractors will not want to be responsible for the parts of the project that they are not doing.  In such a case it might be best for you to pull the permit.

Does a contractor need to be licensed to do my work?2017-06-04T19:59:46-05:00

If you hire a person to complete work on your home, he most likely needs to be licensed.  Persons doing the following work are required to be licensed:

  • Residential Building Contractor. A person in the business of building residential real estate, or of contracting or offering to contract with an owner to build residential real estate, by providing two or more special skills*.  A residential building contractor may also contract or offer to contract with an owner to improve existing residential real estate.
  • Residential Remodeler. A person in the business of contracting or offering to contract with an owner to improve existing residential real estate by providing two or more special skills as defined in this section.
  • Residential Roofer. A person in the business of contracting, or offering to contract with an owner, to complete work on residential real estate in roof coverings, roof sheathing, roof weatherproofing and insulation, and repair of roof systems, but not construction of new roof systems.
  • Plumbing contractors and electric contractors should be licensed in order to do any work in your home or commercial business.

(*Special Skills: Excavation, masonry and concrete, carpentry, interior finish, exterior finish, drywall and plaster, residential roofing, general installation specialties – see MN Statutes 326B.802 Subd. 15 for further information.)

I closed on my home and I have problems. Can an inspector help with warranty claims?2017-06-04T19:57:01-05:00

Answer coming soon.

What do we need permits/inspections for?  Why can’t I do what I want with my own property?2017-12-26T09:24:27-05:00

We understand how people feel about their property – we are all property owners ourselves. However, your municipality has decided that the community has a stake in the quality of construction, and has adopted the Code as a way to ensure that all work complies with the minimum standard set by the Code. The question “Why does Minnesota have a Building Code” might help you understand this better.

Why does Minnesota have a Building Code?2017-06-04T20:03:10-05:00

The building code is a set of rules that “establish minimum requirements to safeguard the public 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 built environment and to provide safety to firefighters and emergency responders during emergency operations.” (MN State Building Code Chapter 1300)

The building code is a set of rules to protect you, your family, and the general public. Whether it is you or a contractor doing the work on your home or business, the Code exists to make sure the work is done in such a way that you will be safe and your home or business will be structurally sound for a long time.
See our January, 2012 newsletter for more information.

January 2012.pdf

How do I get additional information if my question is not covered in the FAQs?2018-02-22T15:32:37-05:00

If you have questions about a specific type of project, check out our handouts to see if your project is covered in one of them. You might also look through our links for help. Feel free to use our “Contact Us” form to send us a question by email, or give us a call and we will point you in the right direction.