Inspections are required on all permits, and are done to ensure that existing buildings and new residential constructions are aligned with the current Minnesota Residential Building Code and the current Minnesota Building Code for commercial buildings.
Building codes provide minimum standards for safety by regulating and controlling design, construction, quality of materials, use and occupancy, location and maintenance of buildings, structures and certain equipment.
When Do I Need a Permit?
Building permits are generally required for all construction and remodeling, roofs, siding, windows, plumbing, and mechanical work. Work such as painting, flooring, and installing cabinets do not require a building permit. If you are unsure if you need a permit, contact the Inspections Department.
Overview of the Inspection Process
The general process of obtaining a permit is as follows:
- Discuss the project with the Inspections Department to clarify requirements and ensure that the project can be done.
- Submit the appropriate application, fees, and any other required documentation.
- Receive a permit card after you application is approved. In most cases, the permit card must be posted on the site.
- Schedule inspections. Required inspections are listed on the permit card. No project is considered complete without a final inspection!
Permits, Fees, & Handouts has more specific requirements for each project type. However, since each project is very unique, please contact the Inspections Department before you get started.
How to Apply/Payments
Some forms and applications can be submitted electronically. For more complex projects, you need to come in to Inspections Department in City Hall to fill out paper copies of applications and forms.
Building permit fees vary by project are based on the value of all proposed improvements and are designed to offset the expenses of plan review and inspection services.
See Permits, Fees, & Handouts for specific information on application requirements and fees for each type of inspection.
Inspections are required on all permits. To schedule an inspection, please call 507-457-8231. A four-hour notice is required for all inspections. When calling for an inspection, please provide an address where the work is being done, a permit number, type of inspection, name, and phone number.
View the Inspections tab on the left for more inspection information.
What do I need a building permit for?
A building permit is required for all new:
- Most Replacements
For any questions, call the Inspections Department at 507-457-8231 to verify.
What kind of work does not need a building permit?
The following work does not require a building permit:
- Decks and platforms not over 30 inches above grade unless attached to a permanent structure
- Finish work including:
- Floor coverings
- Moveable cases, counters, and partitions not over 5 to 9 feet in height
- Playground equipment
- Prefabricated swimming pools above ground not exceeding 5,000 gallons and not more than 24 inches deep
- Retaining walls not over 4 feet in height
- Storage sheds less than 200 square feet
- Window awnings
Where are my property lines?
Property lines can best be determined by calling a surveyor. Many surveyors are listed in the Winona Telephone Directory. The City of Winona does not mark property lines.
What do I need to know about putting up a fence?
- Permits are not required in most cases (please call the Planning/Zoning Department at 507-457-8250 to verify). If fences are over 7 feet, a variance may be required.
- Determine your property lines by contacting a surveyor.
- You may put your fence up to, but not on, the property line. On street sides, it must be at least one foot back from the sidewalk.
- Fences may be up to 6 feet high in the rear (non street side) and up to 4 feet high in the front (street side) of the lot. In business and industrial zoning districts, fences may be up to 8 feet in the rear yard.
- For corner lots, height regulations and setbacks differ, so please call the Inspections Department at 507-457-8231. In any R-district on any corner lot, no fence shall be erected or maintained within 8 feet of the corner (the point of intersection of the right-of-way lines), which interferes with traffic visibility across the corner.
- Placing the "nice" side toward the neighboring lot is a courtesy to neighbors, however, there is no code to require this practice.
Who do I contact about sidewalks and concrete?
Questions about sidewalks and concrete are handled through the Engineering Department, 507-457-8269.
Who do I contact about electrical permits?
Questions about electrical inspections should be directed to the State Electrical Inspector, Shannon Merchlewitz, at 507-730-2349. It is best to call between 7 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., Monday through Friday. The City of Winona does not issue electrical permits.
Who do I contact about fire sprinklers?
Questions about fire sprinklers are handled through the City of Winona Fire Department, 507-457-8266.
Construction inspections will be performed during the project to ensure code compliance and that the materials used are installed correctly. The plan review and inspections are not intended to be a guarantee of the work performed, but rather to provide a reasonable degree of review and observation so the project will be successful, safe, and long lasting.
How to Schedule an Inspection
Call the Inspections Department at 507-457-8231 to schedule an inspection. When calling for an inspection, please provide an address where the work is being done, a permit number, type of inspection, name, and phone number.
A minimum FOUR hour notice is required for all inspections. Inspection requests must be received by 3:30 p.m. to be considered for next day inspection. Inspection schedules fill up fast, especially at certain times of the year, so schedule your required inspections as far in advance as possible to avoid any project delays.
When to Call for an Inspection
Required inspections for your project will be listed on the permit card you are given upon application approval. The table below provides an overview of common inspections and when they need to take place.
|Inspection Type||When to Call|
|Footing||When the forms are all up and the reinforcing rods are in place and before concrete is poured. Strings must be stretched from lot pins so setbacks can be verified.|
|Foundation (Block)||When blocks are in place and cores have been poured, leaving top ¼ to ½ inch of reinforcing rods exposed and anchor bolts are in place.|
|Foundation (Poured)||When forms and reinforcement rods are in place and before concrete is poured. All reinforcement must be free of all oil and dirt.|
|Backfill||After foundation drainage, foundation waterproofing, foundation bracing are in place, before backfill is placed.|
|Underground Plumbing||When all underground plumbing is done but before any pipes are covered.|
|Radon||After radon pipe is in place and rock is installed.|
|Underground Vapor Barrier||After poly is installed and sealed against foundation wall and all vapor barrier penetrations are sealed.|
|Above Ground Rough-In||After all plumbing is installed within wall and floor cavities and 5# rough-in pressure test is applied.|
|Mechanical (HVAC/Gas) Rough-In||After all duct work is installed and gas piping and air tests are completed.|
|Rough-In Electrical||When all rough-in electrical work is done and before any insulation or gypsum board is installed.*|
|Framing||After the roof, all framing, fire blocking and bracing are in place and all pipes, chimneys, and vents are installed and rough electrical, plumbing and heating wires, pipes, and ducts have been approved.|
|Insulation||After all insulation is in place, vapor retarder is installed, and penetrations are filled.|
|Attic Insulation Certification Sheet||Must be on site.|
|Blower Door Test||When building and all penetrations are sealed.|
|Final Electrical||When all work is finished and before building is occupied.*|
|Final Plumbing||After all fixtures are set, water heater and conditioner and other appliances are installed, and a manometer test is in place.|
|Final Building||When all work is done and before the building is occupied. Make sure all fixtures, doors, windows, handrails, guardrails, stairs, smoke detectors, parking spaces, building numbers, etc., are in place.|
*Note: The City of Winona does not handle electrical inspections. For electrical inspection questions, contact the State Electrical Inspector, Shannon Merchlewitz, at 507-730-2349. It is best to call between 7 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., Monday–Friday.
Landlords: Are You Ready For Your Inspection?
Landlords are responsible to maintain rental units in compliance with city codes and laws. This list includes the most common violations/complaints at rental units in the City of Winona. This list is not all inclusive, but only includes the most frequently noted. Please “pre-inspect” your rental units prior to scheduled inspection and routinely during tenancy.
Most Common Rental Housing Violations/ Complaints
- Smoke detectors missing (Smoke detectors are required inside and outside of all bedrooms and on every floor)
- Carbon monoxide detectors missing (carbon monoxide detectors required to be installed within 10’ of all bedroom doors)
- Fire extinguisher missing or not annually serviced (minimum size of 2A 10BC)
- Overloaded outlets or extension cords
- Missing or broken screens and storm windows
- Windows and doors do not open or close properly
- Exposed electrical wire
- Ground fault outlets (GFCI) missing or wired incorrectly in kitchens and bathrooms
- Cover plates on switches and outlets missing or broken
- Loose floor coverings
- Handrails and guardrails missing or not securely attached
- Unkept exterior (exterior weather protection or paint missing or deteriorated, rotted or missing siding or trim, etc.)
- Foundation has holes or cracks (foundation must be tight)
- Peeling paint on interior or exterior
- Inadequate chimneys (chimneys and exterior appendages must be in good repair)
- Inadequate roof covering (must be in good repair)
- Mechanical systems (furnace, water heater) that either do not exist or are not working properly
- Inadequate trash storage (trash and recycling containers must be present and stored in rear yards)
- Numbers and owners placard missing or in a hard to find spot (must be clearly visible)
- Junk on porches or in yards (not allowed)
- Upholstered furniture on open porches (must be removed)
- Missing deadbolts (needed on all exterior doors)
The following checklist facilitates an efficient review by City of Winona staff of solar energy projects less than 100 kW in size. Using the checklist is optional, but all requirements outlined in the checklist must be completed prior to the construction or installation work of the solar energy system.
For All Solar Projects:
- Will the solar project be within a historic preservation district, or on a historic building or property? If it will or you have questions about the property’s status, contact assistant City planner Luke Sims at 507-457-8243 or Lsims@ci.winona.mn.us) about the possible need for Heritage Preservation Commission review.
- Will the proposed project be located on a roof of a building? If yes, provide documentation that the existing roof is structurally adequate to carry the additional load of the solar panels. If the panels are not being placed on a roof, proceed to the Ground Mount section below.
- If going on the roof, complete the Solar Permit Application (PDF), including the $65 application fee. See the Solar tab on the Permits, Fees, and Handouts page for more information. Applications can also be picked up in person by visiting Room 210 in City Hall (207 Lafayette St.)
- Coordinate with your contractor to set up a state electrical inspection. The area inspector is Shannon Merchlewitz: 507-730-2349 (Call between 7:00 - 8:30 A.M., Monday – Friday). Details on the state electrical permit process: https://www.dli.mn.gov/workers/homeowners/electrical-permits-homeowners
For Ground Mounted Solar:
If the solar energy system will be located on the ground or attached to a tracking mount, it will be categorized as an accessory structure under City code.
- Confirm the proposed solar energy system will meet City standards for accessory structures as found in the City Code 43.03.79 (A):
- In any R district, no detached accessory building or structure shall be erected in any required front or side yard.
- Corner Lots: In any R district, where a corner lot adjoins in the rear a lot fronting on the side street and located in an R district, no part of an accessory building shall be nearer to the side street lot line than the principal building to which it is necessary.
- Setbacks: In addition to the other restrictions of this Section, no accessory building or structure shall be located closer than 5 feet to a property line, except for lots of record as provided in City Code 43.01.27. (Three feet setbacks for most lots of record, but 2.5 feet for lots of record that are 30 feet wide or less)
- Yard Requirements: Except as provided in City Code 43.02.16(B) (2), an accessory building, if located in a front or side yard, shall be an integral part of or connected with the principal building to which it is accessory and shall be so placed as to meet all yard and court requirements for the principal building.
- Not to be built prior to construction of the main building in any R district.
- If the solar project will include footings or foundations, consult with the City’s Building Official by calling 507-457-8231 to determine the need for a building or footing/foundation permit.
Questions about compliance with the above accessory use requirements can be resolved by the City’s Planning Department: 507-457-8250 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The City’s Board of Adjustment may grant variances if the accessory structure provisions cause undue hardship.