Ask 5 different people when you need a building permit, and you'll likely get 10 different answers. In fact, there are only 14 circumstances in Minnesota where you are exempt from needing a permit.
1) one-story detached accessory structure used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 120 square feet.
2) fences under six feet
3) oil derrick (I'm not kidding)
4) retaining walls under 4 feet unless they support liquid
5) water tanks not under ground, under 5,000 gallons and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2 to 1
6) sidewalks and driveways 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 not part of an accessible route
8) painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, counter tops, and similar finish work,
9) temporary motion picture, television, and theater stage sets and scenery
10)Prefabricated swimming pools installed entirely above ground
11) window awnings supported by an exterior wall that do not project more than 54 inches from the exterior and do not require additional support (see other explanations in the International Residential Code)
12) movable cases, counters and partitions under five feet nine inches in height
13) agricultural buildings
14) swings and other playground equipment
However, plumbing, electrical and mechanical permits ARE required for any of the above items.
Installing a hand rail, egress window, privacy fence over 6 feet, and sheetrock to your basement, all require permits.
What happens if you decide you don't need to get that permit, even though the law requires it?
Lisa Dunn is a licensed real estate agent in the state of Minnesota.