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Building Permits - Frequently Asked Questions



Why are codes needed and how are they developed?

Who is responsible for administration and enforcement?

Why are fees charged for the enforcement of the code and on what basis are these fees determined?

What kinds of permits are there and where do I get them?

When do I need a permit?

Do I need a contractor or can I do the work myself?

How much are Building Permits?

What are Fire Code Permits?

What about Special Land Use or Zoning Changes?
Permit FAQs
Rental Property Regulations
City Code Fee List
Residential Fees
Commercial Fees
Fire Code Permits
Mechanical Permit Fees
Applying
Commercial Building Guide
Residential Building Guide

Why are codes needed and how are they developed?

Codes were established because of various building construction tragedies throughout history. The "Code" usually means collectively all the laws regulating the construction and use of a building, including all of its auxiliary components, such as electrical wiring, plumbing and mechanical elements. The essential purpose of the building code is to provide for the classification of a building's use, its types of construction, and to impose certain requirements as to its design and safety features sufficient to reduce threats to life and property to an acceptable minimum.

The codes and regulations are considered dynamic documents that change with time and technology. After a major disaster or technological improvement, the code is evaluated and updated. Modern building codes place life safety above all other considerations and attempt to provide sufficient structural integrity, fire resistance and exiting systems to enable persons to utilize such buildings in relative safety and/or enable them to vacate a building.

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Who is responsible for administration and enforcement?

The local Building Inspections Department is, most often, the public agency responsible for administering and enforcing the provisions of the various codes regulating construction. The "Code", as used by the City, is a law or ordinance enacted by the legislative body of the community, state, or federal government, regulating the general public, in some area of human activity, and generally includes the following: Building, Electrical, Plumbing, Mechanical, Fire and Health Codes. The City of Grand Forks Building Inspection Department is the body that was established to administer and enforce these codes.

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Why are fees charged for the enforcement of the code and on what basis are these fees determined?

Fees are collected to defer the costs associated with code administration and enforcement. These fees can cover a portion or all of the costs experienced by the department. If it is determined that only some of the costs incurred will be covered by the collection of fees, the remaining cost of operating the department must be covered by other means - i.e. taxes (NOTE: The Building Inspections Department is completely self-sustaining.)

The building permit fees charged by the City of Grand Forks are determined by evaluating the costs incurred and the level of service to be delivered. Also, the City has looked at what other cities charge and has come up with what it thinks is a fair fee schedule. The fees charged for commercial buildings are taken directly out of the Uniform Building Code but a much lower fee schedule has been determined to be appropriate for residential buildings.

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What kind of permits are there and where do I get them?

The most frequently required permits are Building Permits and they are obtained at the Building Inspections Department, room 225 in City Hall. Other permits include: Moving, Demolition, Mechanical, Plumbing, Sign, Parabolic Antennas, Driveway Construction, Excavations, Sidewalk Construction, Christmas Trees Sales, Temporary Buildings, Self-Wiring, Electrical Fire and Swimming Pool.

Permits obtained at the Planning Office include: Home Occupation, Planned Unit Development, Special Use and Zoning Establishment or Change. The Planning Department is located in City Hall and can be reached at 746-2660.

Permits obtained at the Police Department include: Alarm Systems and Peddlers.

There are also Parking permits for Service or Construction that are necessary when extraordinary parking circumstances are required due to heavy construction or service drop-offs or pick-ups. They can be obtained by contacting the City Clerk at 746-2611.

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When do I need a permit?

The short answer: If you have to pound a nail.

The long answer: Grand Forks City Code, Section 106 - Permits

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Do I need a contractor or can I do the work myself?

Any building project other than a home-owner's residence must be completed by a licensed and bonded contractor. You also need a contractor if you're building a new single-family dwelling.

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How much are building permits?

Permit costs depend on the anticipated cost of construction and whether they are Residential Permits or Commercial Permits. You can look at a Residential Permit Fee List or a Commercial Permit Fee List.

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What are Fire Code Permits?

Fire Code Permits are necessary to assist safety and protection providers with the information they need to best serve the public. More information is available in the Fire Code.

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What about Special Land Use or Zoning Changes?

These are matters for the Planning Department. They also handle permits and requests concerning Home Occupation, Planned Unit Development and Zoning Establishment.

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City of Grand Forks
255 N 4th Street * Grand Forks, ND 58203 * Phone (701) 746-INFO