Building Department Common Questions and Topics

The below information is for permitting, permit submittal and licensing/fee questions.  

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Permit Information FAQs
Do I need a permit?

The City enforces the Minnesota State Building Code. The Community Development Department provides interpretation of the codes and issues building permits for construction and inspection services. Whenever you build, enlarge, alter, repair, convert, demolish, or move a building, a permit is required. Most Plumbing, Mechanical and Electrical Permits can be issued at City Hall or online. Building Permits that involve plan review generally take up to 7-10 working days before they can be issued. Smaller projects take less time; some may be issued immediately. Large projects can take up to 2 weeks or more for plan review. (Remember, always call before you dig, www.gopherstateonecall.org.) If you are still not sure if you need a permit, email or call the Building Department at 651- 638-2050.

What happens if I do work without a permit?

Work without a permit could result in a stop work order, a double fee, and for contractors, an investigation from the State. 

Savvy home buyers and realtors want to see proof of permitted work, so also keep in mind that if un-permitted work is occurring at your home, it could be an issue if you choose to sell.

I received a notification that my permit expired, but the project is not completed, what should I do?

The City has to follow building code rules for expiring permits, but in many cases if the work is ongoing, we can extend the permit beyond its original expiration date.  Please call 651-638-2043 or email if you need to request an extension.

Note: during the COVID19 pandemic, the City is working with contractors and homeowners on extensions.  We understand that work is being delayed and we will help you.

When do I need a building permit?

This permit is required when erecting, expanding, or changing buildings. Simple maintenance or repairs do not require a permit. A homeowner working on his own home or a State Licensed Contractor working on 1 or 2 family homes, or a City/State Licensed Contractor may apply for this permit. When applying for a Building Permit, please submit the following along with your online application:

  • Application form (Online Application)
  • Site plan or survey (for additions and decks)
  • Floor plan
  • Cross section
  • Elevation
  • Energy calculations (new house or heated addition)
  • Description of work being done
  • Cost estimates including labor & materials (If the project is for minor remodeling or repairs, only a description and cost estimate is needed.)
What building work can I do without a permit?
  1. Accessory buildings (sheds, playhouses, and similar uses) provided that the floor area does not exceed 200 square feet.
  2. Retaining walls not over 4 feet high.
  3. Platforms, decks, walks and driveways not over 30 inches above grade and not attached to a building.
  4. Swimming pools (prefabricated) above grade and less than 5000 gallons. 
  5. Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, countertops, and similar finish work (installation of hard surface floor finishes in apartments, condominium, and other multifamily buildings must comply with sounds transmission class (STC) ratings and are not exempt from a permit)
  6. Window awnings for one or two family dwellings supported by an exterior wall that do not project more than 54 inches from the wall and do not require additional support
  7. Movable cases, counter, and partitions not over five feet, nine inches in height 5. Installation of insulation in wall cavities when the wall finish is not removed and in unfinished attic floors 6. Installation of roof gutter systems (downspouts shall not be directed to adjacent properties)
  8. Installation of soffit, fascia, trim, and other accessories
  9. Installation of battery operated or plug-in type smoke and carbon monoxide detectors or the repair or replacement of existing detectors
  10. The following types of window and door related work are exempt from permits:
  • Installation of storm windows and storm doors
  • Replacement of wood sash for prime windows
  • Installation of vinyl jamb liner weather-stripping for existing window sash
  • Replacement of glass, screens, wood parts, and other minor repairs

Exemption from permit requirements does not grant authorization for any work to be done in any manner that is in violation of the building code or any other laws or ordinances of New Brighton.

When do I need an electrical permit?

When installing or changing any electrical system, such as changing a service, adding outlets, or replacing furnaces and air conditioners, a permit is required. If you are not sure if an electrical permit is required, contact the City electrical inspector at 763-754-2983 between 7AM and 8:30AM  A homeowner working on his own home or a Licensed Electrician may apply for this permit. When applying for an Electrical Permit, the following things are required:  

  • Online application
  • Description of the work to be done.

To schedule an inspection visit tokleinspections.com (preferred) or call 763-754-2983 between 7AM and 8:30AM.

Who can apply for an electrical permit?

A licensed, bonded and insured electrical contractor and their employees. When the electrical work is being performed by a homeowner, the homeowner then applies for the permit. In signing and submitting a permit application the homeowner is acknowledging that they own and occupy the home where the work will be performed and they personally and physically will perform all of the electrical work described on the permit application. Homeowners shall not obtain permits for another entity who is physically installing the electrical components.

I am a homeowner, can I do my own electrical work?

Our electrical inspector, Tokle Inspections, has put together a guide for homeowners.

When do I need a mechanical permit?

A permit is required when installing or changing any mechanical system (heating, air conditioning, and ventilation) or component of the system. Simple maintenance or repairs do not require a permit. A homeowner working on his own home or a City Licensed Contractor may apply for this permit. When applying for a Mechanical Permit, the following things are required:

  • Online application
  • Description of the work to be done
  • An updated City Contractor's License (for contractors only)
What mechanical work can I do without a permit?
  1. Portable heating, cooking, or clothes drying equipment
  2. Replacement of any minor part that does not alter approval of equipment
  3. Portable fuel cell appliances not connected to a fixed piping system and are not interconnected to a power grid
  4. Portable heating, ventilation, or cooling appliances and equipment
  5. Steam, hot, or chilled water piping within any regulated heating or cooling equipment
  6. Self-contained refrigeration systems
  7. Capping an open gas line
When do I need a plumbing permit?

When installing or changing any plumbing systems in a building, a plumbing permit would be required. This includes installing a water softener/heater, moving pipes and fixtures, adding or finishing a bathroom or similar project. Simple maintenance or repairs do not require a permit. A homeowner working on his own existing home or a State Licensed Plumber may apply for this permit. When applying for a Plumbing Permit, the following things are required:

  • Online application
  • Description of the work to be done
What plumbing work can I do without a permit?

Unless the plumbing work poses an unsanitary or hazardous condition, the requirements for a permit is waived 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 is in like kind and 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 replacement or resetting of water closets when the work does not include alterations to the existing plumbing piping systems.
  4. Replacement of a clean-out plug
  5. Minor repair of broken drain, waste, and vent pipes
  6. Minor repair of leaking fixtures
  7. Minor repair of leaking water pipes
  8. Replacement of a dish washer
  9. New or replacement of garbage disposals
What do I need zoning or public works approval on?

The following projects do not require a building permit but may require Zoning or Public Works approval:

  1. Retaining walls not over four feet in height (height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall) unless supporting a surcharge (which may include buildings, pools, parking areas, streets, alleys, sidewalks, or other loads). It is suggested that you have a site plan review even for walls under four feet in height.
  2. Fences not over seven feet in height
  3. One-story detached accessory structures not exceeding 200 square feet 803 Old Highway 8 NW, New Brighton, MN 55112 | 651-638-2050 | permits@newbrightonmn.gov
  4. Detached decks and platforms not more than 30 inches above grade that do not provide access to a dwelling
  5. Sidewalks, walkways, and driveways on private property that are not part of an accessible route
  6. Prefabricated, above-ground swimming pools not exceeding 5,000 gallons and a 24 inch depth
  7. Playground equipment
What if I have an emergency repair?

Emergency repairs can be done without first obtaining the necessary permits, but the permits must be obtained after the work has been completed within a reasonable timeframe.

Do you have "how to" guides for online permitting?

Applicants must use the online system to apply for permits, upload plans and schedule inspections. 

Contractor Guide for contractors on using the online system.

How to Guide for homeowners on using the online system.

I submitted my permit application, how do I pay?

Once your permit has been processed and approved by the City, you will get a link for payment.  Please note, we require payment up front for permits with reviews.

Who should I send RPZ reports to?

Please send them to permits@newbrightonmn.gov.

Licensing and Fee FAQs
How do I get my City Contractor License?

Please visit this link to fill out the online license application.

Does New Brighton have licensing requirements?

Yes. Please view our Licensing Requirements pdf to find out what is required by the City of New Brighton

Where can I find the most current fee schedule?

Please look at our 2021 Fee Schedule pdf to view current fees.

Should homeowners always hire licensed contractors?

Answer from the Department of Labor & Industry: "DLI strongly recommends hiring a contractor licensed by the state of Minnesota. That ensures the company has met certain requirements, including having a principal of the company pass an appropriate examination and having liability and property damage insurance. A licensed contractor must also take a number of continuing education classes each year."

If you have questions about the licensing status of a contractor, you can check on the State website. 

Some work does not require a license or a permit, if you have specific questions feel free to call us at the City 651-638-2050 or email.

Please reference the State of Minnesota's Consumer Guide to Hiring a Contractor.

I am a homeowner and I have hired a contractor who is asking me to pull the permits for them, what should I do?

The Department of Labor lists these as "red flags" when hiring a contractor:

  • arrives in an unmarked van or truck 
  • appears to be willing to do the job at an unusually low price
  • requires full or substantial payment before work begins
  • refuses to provide a written estimate or contract
  • refuses to provide a Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry license number
  • refuses to provide references
  • shows up unsolicited
  • uses high-pressure sales tactics
  • asks the homeowner to obtain permits for the job

It is the responsibility of the licensed contractor to pull their own permits.  If the City suspects that you are pulling a permit on behalf of a contractor, you may be asked to sign a Homeowner Affidavit..

I suspect the contractor I have hired is not reliable, what should I do?

The Department of Labor lists these as "red flags" when hiring a contractor:

  • arrives in an unmarked van or truck 
  • appears to be willing to do the job at an unusually low price
  • requires full or substantial payment before work begins
  • refuses to provide a written estimate or contract
  • refuses to provide a Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry license number
  • refuses to provide references
  • shows up unsolicited
  • uses high-pressure sales tactics
  • asks the homeowner to obtain permits for the job

Please reach out to the City if you need any help 651-638-2050 or email

You can also reach out directly to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry:

Residential Building Contractor unit

Contractor Recovery Fund

Residential Building Contractor License Lookup

Online Permitting
I submitted my application, how do I pay?

Once your permit has been processed and approved by the City, you will get a link for payment.  Please note, we require payment up front for permits with reviews.

I'm a contractor and I need help with my account, what should I do?

If you are a contractor and need help getting into your account or setting up a new one, click here to visit our Contractor Resource Center.