The Tao of permits: Know before you build

September 28, 2017

You want to be as prepared as possible any time you plan to have work done to your home or business. Building projects may require a permit, depending on the type of project. Many do-it-yourself home projects do not require a permit, but no project is too large or too small to require one. Permits can be necessary even for the smallest remodeling and it is best to find out whether you need one before you get started.

Hiring a professional contractor will ensure you have someone knowledgeable as to whether your project needs a permit.
Multiple permits may be required depending on the project.


Make sure the city is aware of the entire project so the correct permits can be issued. You don’t want to complete a project only to find that you were missing permits, which can result in hefty fines as well as the possibility of having to tear down the build and start over once you obtain the right permit to complete the work. Believe it or not, situations like this have occurred and could have been avoided by checking the legalities of the build upfront or by hiring a contractor.

A permit is required to ensure that all work performed adheres to local codes, laws, and safety requirements. This not only provides protection for the community, but also for those inside the building. Therefore, it is important to obtain a permit for any project that requires one, even if it is just a remodel.

Owners who work on their own properties must be licensed if they intend to sell the property later. Contractors should be used for large jobs that require a permit. Larger projects requiring a permit include, but are not limited to:

•Plumbing or electrical work
•Additions to your home
•Large swimming pools
•Fences over six feet tall
•HVAC-related work
•Driveways; and
•Re-roofing or siding.

Permits are not required for small fences, painting, gardens, and smaller home repairs.

Permit fees are based on the size, overall cost, and other factors of the work being performed. Each permit may—and most likely will—have a different fee depending on the type of work that needs to be done.

In some cases, you will need to obtain multiple permits. The cost for each needs to be paid before you can proceed with the project. You can find permit fees specific to your project for Duluth at and for Superior at

An inspection must be performed for the permit to be accepted. Inspections are set up by appointment through the city. A professional will come out to ensure that it complies with all regulations, safety codes, and other specifics.

These inspections are required on all new home and business builds as well as remodeling on existing homes and buildings. You may find that you need to schedule numerous inspections prior to and after the work is complete.

Hiring a contractor also ensures that you have the necessary plans to obtain certain permits. A blueprint is often necessary before a permit can legally be issued. You will also need to make sure your build or remodel follows the city plans and specifications or requirements for the local neighborhood.

It is important to follow the instructions on the permit application as closely as possible. This will ensure that the county accepts the permit. All permits can be downloaded from the corresponding city websites and mailed or handed in at City Hall.

Jason Mueller grew up working construction for his dad's contracting business. Working at a young age taught him great core values and how to work hard. He currently is working with Contractors Today and loves it. His passions are woodworking and surfing.

Please reload

More from this Author

Archives by Date

Please reload

Archives by Title or Author