The Inspections Department is located on the 2nd Floor of Grand Forks City Hall. City Hall is located in downtown Grand Forks at 255 N 4th St.
What is a building code?
A building code is a 'living' legal collection of rules and regulations that govern the construction and occupancy of buildings.
The purpose of the building codes is to provide minimum standards for the protection of life, limb, health, property, environment and for the safety and welfare of the consumer, general public and the owners and occupants of buildings. The fundamental purposes of the codes or regulations can be summed up as; safety of building occupants & fire personnel, stop panic, and protection of your & adjoining properties.
How do I know if my property is located in the City of Grand Forks' jurisdiction?
The City of Grand Forks’ jurisdiction includes the city limits and a two-mile extraterritorial area outside the city limit line. If you have a question regarding where this extra territorial area is please contact the Inspections Department.
When do I need a permit?
The short answer: If you have to pound a nail. When you are reshingling, residing, replacing windows, building a deck, pouring a new driveway or sidewalk and the list continues. The easier question to answer is; when don’t I need a permit? Sheds that are 120 square feet or less in area, fences 6’ and under in height, floor covering, wall covering and concrete on your residential property are the basic items that don’t require permits be issued. There are still regulations for the location of sheds and fences that must be met.
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 Inspections Department, located in Room 225 in City Hall. Other permits that can be obtained include: Moving, Demolition, Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing, Sign, Parabolic Antennas, Driveway Construction, Excavations, Sidewalk Construction, Christmas Trees Sales, Temporary Buildings, Self-Wiring, Fire and Swimming Pool.
For information on residential projects and permits, visit the Residential Projects page.
For information on commercial projects and permits, visit the Commercial Projects page.
What do I need to know to get a permit?
To obtain a building permit on your home that you live in is quite simple. For basic general repairs and projects will need to have an estimate of the work and who is doing it. If you are building a deck, an addition to the home, or a large remodel you will need to have a plan and a site plan for the work along with a cost estimate and who is doing the work.
How long are permits good for?
Your permit only pertains to the work described on the permit application. Permits have a life of 180 days or as work continues. If you have further questions, please contact the Inspections Office.
How much are building permits?
Permit costs depend on the anticipated cost of construction and whether they are Residential Permits or Commercial Permits. The anticipated cost should be the estimate of the labor and material to complete the proposed project with all electrical, mechanical and plumbing included.
Why are permit 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.
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 more than the much lower fee schedule utilized for one and two family residential buildings.
Do I need a contractor or can I do the work myself?
Any building project other than in a homeowner's residence must be completed by a licensed and bonded contractor. All commercial and rental projects must be completed by a contractor. A homeowner can construct a home themselves if they live in the newly constructed home for at least one year from the issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy.
How do I choose a contractor?
While the City cannot specifically recommend a contractor, there are some guidelines you can follow when deciding who will perform the necessary work on your property.
Make sure you hire a licensed contractor. In order to do work in the City of Grand Forks and its jurisdiction, the City does require all contractors to be licensed in the state of North Dakota and the City of Grand Forks.
You can visit the Secretary of State's website or call 1-800-352-0867 to find out this information. It may also be helpful to ask the North Dakota/Minnesota Better Business Bureau (1-800-646-6222 or website ) to see if any complaints have been filed against the contractor you are considering, and ask the contractor for references. You can also view the North Dakota State Attorney General's scam informational page and choosing a contractor .
How do I become a licensed contractor?
The first step to become a licensed contractor to do work in the City of Grand Forks’ jurisdiction is to make sure you have a State of North Dakota license and contact the Building Inspections Department for the licensing requirements for the type of contractor you wish to do work in. The City does have its own licensing requirements for General, Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing, Moving, Excavating, Sign Hanger and Driveway/Sidewalk Contractors. In order to become a licensed contractor in the City’s jurisdiction, a performance bond will also be required.
When do I need to obtain a mechanical permit?
Permits are required before any alterations are made to an existing mechanical system or if a new system is installed. A mechanical system is defined as a system that is specifically addressed and regulated by the code and is composed of components, devices, appliances and equipment. Some examples would be a furnace, exhaust fan, duct system, fireplace or vent system.
When do I need to obtain a plumbing permit?
Permits are required before any alterations are made to an existing plumbing system or if a new system is installed. A plumbing system is defined as a system of water supply and distribution pipes, plumping fixtures, supports and appurtenances: soil, waste and vent pipes: sanitary drains and building sewers to an approved point of disposal.
What is an electrical wiring certificate?
It is a document consisting of one or more copies certifying that certain electrical wiring and equipment was installed in conformity with the rules and regulations of the North Dakota Electrical Board.
A certificate provides proof to the power supplier that an electrical installation to be connected has been made in conformity with approved methods of construction for safety to life and property.
Section 43-09-21, North Dakota Century Code, provides: "...no electrical installation shall be connected for use until proof has been furnished to the person, firm, or corporation supplying electrical energy that such regulations have been complied with."
When is a electrical wiring certificate required?
All electrical installations, including new work and additional work on old installations made in this city and state, shall have an electrical wiring certificate submitted by the master or Class B Electrician supervising the installation. (24.1-05-01-01)
Who files the wiring certificate with the power supplier?
Whenever a North Dakota licensed Master or Class "B" electrician makes an installation they are required by law to file the certificate and provide the owner with a copy for their file.
On a self-wired installation, the owner must make an application for inspection to:
City Electrical Inspector, City of Grand Forks, P.O. Box 1518, Grand Forks, North Dakota, 58206-1518.
Once the installation is inspected and approved, a certificate will be filed by the electrical inspector. If the installation is not approved, no certificate will be issued and the owner will be asked to make the necessary changes and request another inspection.
On new connects, may a power supplier furnish electrical power before a wiring certificate is filed?
No. A copy of an electrical wiring certificate must be filled with the power company before an electrical service is provided.
What is the Rental Inspection Program?
The City of Grand Forks has had a Rental Inspection Program for over 40 years. This program ensures rental units maintain health and safety codes. All rental units are inspected every five years and a certificate of occupancy is re-instated when each unit meets minimum code requirements.
What is a rental unit?
A rental unit is a housing unit that is occupied by someone other than the owner of the property or a family member of the property owner. A housing unit is a habitable area that contains minimum living facilities to include a bathroom, kitchen and living areas. They can be multiple family units (3 plex or greater) or one and two family dwellings.
Why are rental licenses required?
The City of Grand Forks created the rental licensing program in response to concerns expressed by the public. The City Council studied these questions and adopted the licensing program. Rental licensing allows for the City to have a mechanism to coordinate with landlords, managers and tenants. A rental license is required for one and two family rental units only and is renewed yearly.
What is required of a rental unit?
A Certificate of Occupancy is required when a property is going to be occupied by anyone other than the owner or their family members. With extended families this can include many variations of what is meant by "family members". One does not have to collect rent to make it necessary for a Certificate of Occupancy to be required. A housing unit must have appropriate bathroom facilities, kitchen facilities and a heating system. The heating system must maintain 68 degrees three feet above the floor in each occupied room and can not have mixed air with another housing unit.
What is the City's responsibility regarding rental units?
The City of Grand Forks is very proactive in the area of rental inspection compliance and insists that all rental units maintain a Certificate of Occupancy. We have a mandatory system that is enforced to the highest level possible including citing property owners in municipal court for non-compliance or requiring the unit be left vacant. The City has no authority over the aesthetics of the property. If the property has junk or a junk vehicle the City will make sure that issue is resolved before a Certificate of Occupancy is granted. Many times these issues on renter occupied properties are easier to resolve than on owner occupied properties. The landlord will make the tenant get rid of the non-compliance item because they know they are the ones responsible for their own property.
Are the basic requirements of a rental unit different than that of an owner occupied single family home?
Rental units are held to different standards, because someone occupies them other than the property owner or their family. They must meet certain minimum requirements before a Certificate of Occupancy will be issued. Some of the basics of these requirements are: proper egress, smoke detectors, electrical wiring, handrails and guardrails, heating equipment and hot water heating equipment to be correctly installed.
Reference Diagrams (not all requirements listed):
Click here to view diagrams and specifications relating to the requirements.
How many individuals can occupy a rental unit?
Four or less individuals that are unrelated can occupy each housing unit. There is no limit to the number of family members who can live in a housing unit.
What are the off-street parking requirements?
All housing units, regardless if they are owner occupied or rented, are required to have off-street parking. The minimum requirement is two parking spaces and then is increased with the number of bedrooms in the housing unit.