DSI Main Office/Permit Desk Phone: 651-266-8989
Building Inspectors' Office Phone: 651-266-9002
Address: 375 Jackson Street, Suite 220, Saint Paul, MN 55101
DSI Main Office/Permit Desk Hours: 8:00 am-4:00 pm (Mon - Fri), closed Weekends & Holidays (Beginning June 6, 2023 the main office will open at 9:00 am the first Tuesday of each month.)
Building Inspectors' Office Hours: 7:30 am-9:00 am (Mon - Fri), closed Weekends & Holidays
You are required to get a building permit for the following changes on one or two-family residences, multi-family residences, or buildings for commercial, industrial, or institutional use:
- Building a new structure
- Adding an addition to current structure
- Remodeling or repairing a structure
For more information see:
- Applications & Information Page
- Building Inspectors Area Map (interactive map)
- Online Permit System
- Roofing Policy: asphalt or fiberglass shingles
- Commercial Reroof Requirements: checklist to be submitted with building permit application and plans for all commercial / multi-family flat roof projects (added 2023)
If you can't find the information you are looking for, contact the appropriate department.
- Zoning Section - Phone: 651-266-9008 for information about Zoning Code setbacks, lot coverage, land usage
- Building Plan Review Section - Phone: 651-266-9007 for information on Building Code construction and permit requirements
- Heritage Preservation Commission Staff - Phone: 651-266-9078 for information on historic districts or sites, design guidelines
For general information on permit requirements, email the DSI Message Center.
An Accessory Dwelling Unit ("ADU") is a second dwelling unit, subordinate to a principal one-family dwelling, within or attached to a one-family dwelling or in a detached accessory building on the same zoning lot. Saint Paul first allowed ADU's in 2016 in a limited geographical area, then allowed them citywide in 2018. (Click here for the 2016 ordinance. Click here for the 2018 ordinance.) In 2022, amendments to the ADU ordinance were adopted lowering barriers to the addition of ADU's. (Click here for the 2022 ordinance.) Key changes in 2022 included:
- Removing the lot size minimum for construction of a detached ADU;
- Removing the owner-occupancy requirement; and
- Changing the maximum size from 800 square feet to 75% of the floor area of the principal unit.
Standards and Conditions
Regulations regarding accessory dwelling units are found in Section 65.913 of the Zoning Code. Regulations regarding all accessory buildings and uses are found in Section 63.501 of the Zoning Code. The following standards and conditions must be met in order to establish an ADU:
- Only one accessory unit is allowed on a lot.
- No more than one household is allowed in both the principal unit and the accessory unit together. A household is six (6) or fewer adults, together with the minors in their care. (For example, if four adults occupy the principal dwelling unit, only two adults may occupy the ADU.) Click here for additional notes on occupancy limits on a residential property.
- The maximum size of a detached ADU is 75% of the floor area of the principal unit;
- The maximum height of an ADU in RL-RM2 residential districts is the lesser of 25 feet or the height of the principal structure.
- All other requirements for an accessory structure must be met, including location and setback.
- If the accessory dwelling unit is located within the principal unit, the principal structure must be at least 1,000 square feet. If the principal building has more than one story and was built before 9/14/2016, the maximum floor area of an accessory dwelling unit may be equal to that of the first floor, but shall be less than or equal to 50% of the total floor area of the building.
- There must be a sidewalk from the street to the primary entrance of the accessory unit.
- An accessory unit on the upper floors of the principal building shall have an interior stairway to the primary entrance of the accessory unit. Secondary stairways may be located on the exterior, but not on the front of the building.
- All building code requirements for the accessory unit must be met and a building permit must be obtained for the change of use and/or construction work.
Express Building Permit
An express building permit includes only the following work types:
- Basement Drainage System
- Chimney Repair
- Re-roof & Roof Repair
- Shingle w/Tear Off
- Shingle w/Overlay
- Flat w/Tear Off
- Flat w/Overlay
- Slate/Slate Repair
- Tile/Tile Repair
- Framed Insert or Pocket
- Sash Only
- Glass Block Basement
The Contractor Express Permit application has been developed for contractors only and is intended to speed up the application process. The express items listed above do not require plan review and can be issued online.
Contractor Express items do not include structural work; any structural work must be submitted on a General Building Permit Application and requires plan review. If a contractor is working on any of the express items plus additional work, a General Building Permit Application must be submitted to the Department of Safety and Inspections.
Owners may not use the Contractor Express application; they must complete a General Building Permit Application.
There are restrictions for construction on historical property. To find out if a property is designated historical or if there are any restrictions, contact Heritage Preservation Commission staff at 651-266-9078. If the property is historical, a General Building Permit Application is required.
If installing new general sheet metal or replacing existing general sheet metal on a residential structure with greater than four (4) residential units and/or commercial structures, a General Sheet Metal Permit is required. Please do not indicate sheet metal work on a Contractors Express Permit Application.
- A completed Contractor Express Building Permit
- The required fee
Contact the building inspector listed on your permit before beginning work in order to arrange for the required inspections. See the Building Permit Fee Schedule for information regarding permit fees and the state surcharge. Each permit issued shall expire if the work authorized by the permit is not commenced within 180 days from the date issued, or if the work is suspended or abandoned for a period of 180 days after the work has begun. In addition, exterior work done on a single-family or two-family dwelling (including garages) must be completed within one year from the date issued. Interior and exterior work done on commercial properties (including hotels and apartment buildings) where the permit valuation is under $500,000 must be completed within one year from the date issued. See Chapter 33.04 of the Saint Paul Legislative Code.
Permits for interior demolition are classified as general building permits (see General Building).
Who can apply for a demolition permit?
Licensed Wrecking Contractors may obtain a permit to demolish dwelling units of any size or commercial buildings. Follow this link for information on obtaining a Wrecking License with the City of Saint Paul.
Homeowners may obtain a permit to demolish a residential garage without a license but cannot obtain permits to demolish any residential dwelling unit.
What is required?
A completed Demo Permit Application: all required sign offs must be obtained prior to submitting the application to DSI. (Note, a demolition permit for a residential garage does not require sign offs except for Heritage Preservation Office if it is a locally designated property.)
See below for methods of submitting your demolition permit application form for sign offs.
- Public Works Address: City Hall Annex, 25 4th St W, 10th floor
- Public Works Sewers: City Hall Annex, 25 4th St W, 7th floor
- Saint Paul Regional Water Services: 1900 Rice St, Maplewood
- Fax: 651-266-1657
- Email: mailto:WaterInquiries@ci.stpaul.mn.us
- Requirements for Water sign off:
- A plumber shall pull a permit and do the cut off at the property line.
- Contact engineering at 651-266-6270 to get cut-off inspected.
- Contact meter department at 651-266-6850 to either
- Get the meter pulled (if entry to the building is possible) or
- Do a final bill with a lost / stolen meter charge.
- Once the final bill is paid and the cut-off inspected, SPRWS can sign off on the demo permit application.
- Extermination / Animal Control:
- Baiting is required for demolition of all structures except for residential garages
- The pest control agency shall set the bait and schedule an inspection with Animal Control at the site 3 days later. The bait is removed during the walk through with the Animal Control Field Agent.
- Baiting may not be required in the case of a dangerous structure.
- Call the Animal Control division at 651-266-1100
- Heritage Preservation Office: City Hall Annex, 25 4th St W, 14th floor
- Email: mailto:ApplyHPC@stpaul.gov
- Follow this link for an interactive map of Local, State and National Districts and Sites. If the property has no historical designation, this sign off is not required.
- Department of Safety and Inspections (DSI): The completed demolition permit application with all required sign offs may be submitted by the following methods:
- Fax: 651-266-9124
- In Person or Mail: Department of Safety and Inspections, 375 Jackson St, Suite 220, St Paul, MN 55101
- Email: mailto:DSI-BuildingPlanReview@ci.stpaul.mn.us
Ramsey County Pre-demolition Inspection
Ramsey County must complete a pre-demolition inspection for all full house demolitions and all commercial/industrial major renovations and demolitions. Proper recycling or disposal is enforced for appliances, asbestos, electronics and any other hazardous waste. Follow this link to the Ramsey County Pre-Demolition Inspections information page for contact information.
One- and Two-unit Residential Home Demolition
To ensure that neighbors directly affected by demolition work are informed of the project and made aware of the process for reporting violations, and that the demolition contractor is made aware of and follows the rules and regulations with respect to the management of work sites, the City requires all contractors complete and sign the Construction Management Acknowledgment form and submit with the demolition permit application for the demolition of one- and two-unit residential homes. Follow this link for the Construction Management Acknowledgment Form.
Upon submission of the above items, you must receive approval from the area building inspector.
Inspections: Contact Building Inspectors at 651-266-9002 between the hours of 7:30 am - 9:00 am weekdays.
A zoning review fee will be charged for each structure. The zoning fee may be waived for accessory residential garage if removed at the same time as principal structure or when the demolition is to accommodate new construction and there is an active site plan under review under way for the new construction.
Description Amount Per one thousand (1,000) cubic feet or fraction thereof $5.00 Minimum Permit Fee $85.00 Zoning Review Fee $90.00
If a homeowner is building their own garage, they do not need a license. However, if an owner is pouring their own slab, they must be owner / homesteader of the dwelling unit on the property.
See Chapter 63.501 of the City of Saint Paul Legislative Code for information regarding set-backs, location on the lot, and height and size limitations.
You must submit an application that includes the following:Building Permit Fee Schedule (81.46 KB)
DSI.Bldg_.GarageFeeSchedule.pdf (220.72 KB)
- Homeowner's Building Permit Affidavit (for homeowner pulling permit)
- A Site Plan and all necessary construction documents
- If in an Historic Preservation Areas or other special area, copy of detailed construction plans
- If on a one to four-family residential property, proof of general contractor license
- If pouring slab, proof of cement finishing license or equivalent
Expiration & Renewal
Each permit issued shall expire if the work authorized by the permit is not commenced within 180 days from the date issued, or if the work is suspended or abandoned at any time after the work has begun for a period of 180 days. In addition, exterior work done on a one or two-family dwelling (including garages) must be completed within one year from the date issued. Interior and exterior work done on commercial properties (including hotels and apartment buildings) where the permit valuation is under $500,000 must be completed within one year from the date issued. For more information, see Chapter 33.04 of the Saint Paul Legislative Code.
Building a Fence in Saint Paul
What is required?
- A completed Fence Plan Review/Permit Application Form
- A survey or Basic Site Plan showing the proposed location of your fence
- Fee ($45 for the first 200 lineal feet or fraction thereof and $15 for each additional 100 lineal feet or fraction thereof)
- A variance to height or corner condition may be requested. See information under “What are the height limitations?”
Once your application has been submitted a Plan Examiner will review your plan for compliance with location and height requirements. Upon approval, you may install your fence. A fence inspection is not required, except in these cases: fences greater than seven feet tall, swimming pool fences, or barbed wire fences.
What forms will I need?
Click on the following links for each form:
How do I submit a Plan Review / Permit application?
Applications accepted via email include General Building Permit, Fence Permit/Plan Review, and Demolition Permits. (NOTE: When submitting permit applications and plans via email, please be sure all attachments are pdf file format only. Please, convert PNG, JPEG, etc. files to pdf before submitting your application.)
Do not include credit card information on any applications submitted by email
Department of Safety and Inspections, 375 Jackson St, Suite 220, Saint Paul, MN 55101-1806
In-person drop off
Applications and plans may be dropped off at our office. They will be processed in the order received and will not be processed the same day.
Where can the fence be located?
The City of Saint Paul encourages you to discuss your fence with your neighbors before installation to help avoid a costly property line dispute. Your fence and all supporting structures must be located entirely inside your property line. The fence cannot be on the property line, on a neighbor’s property or on public property (boulevard, right of way, sidewalk area, etc.). It is your responsibility to know where your property line is, so make sure you have the property markers located before you install your fence. You may wish to hire a professional surveyor to identify your property lines, although it is not required for fences less than seven feet tall. The City of Saint Paul cannot locate your property markers and does not settle private property line disputes among property owners.
What are the height limitations?
Fences in the front yard shall be no more than four feet tall.
Side and Rear Yard
Fences in the side or rear yards shall be no more than seven feet tall.
On a corner lot at two intersecting streets, fences shall be no more than two feet tall in the triangular area of the lot, 10 feet from the corner, unless the fence is more than 80% open (chain link). See figure.
A variance may be granted for fences that exceed height requirements. A nonrefundable variance application fee of $85 is required for each variance request. To apply for a fence variance, submit a completed Fence Variance Application Form along with a Fence Permit Application Form and in most cases, a Fence Variance will be approved/denied within 1-2 business days.
Swimming Pool Fences
All swimming pool fences are subject to a Fence Plan Review (see requirements above) and must be inspected by a city Building Inspector.
Swimming pool fences must:
- Be enclosed by an obscuring fence four feet tall on residential properties, or by a five-foot fence on properties containing three or more residential units or commercial structures.
- Gates must be self-closing and self-latching, with the latch on the inside of the gate, not readily available for children to open.
- Gates shall be capable of being securely locked when the pool is not in use.
- Commercial and multi-family residential swimming pools require approval from the Minnesota Department of Health (651) 201-4500.
Barbed Wire Fences
All barbed wire fences are subject to a Fence Plan Review (see requirements above) and must be inspected.
No barbed wire fence shall be constructed within the city limits of the City of Saint Paul, except for police and correction facilities, unless the following conditions are complied with:
- No fence which uses barbed wire may be built in or abut a residentially zoned district or built on or abut a lot occupied residentially.
- Barbed wire, not exceeding 3 strands, may be permitted on the top of a fence; providing that the arms do not project over public property. The minimum height to the bottom strand of the barbed wire shall not be less than 6 feet from finished grade.
- In all cases where a barbed wire fence is requested, an application shall be made to the building official.
- A certificate of insurance indemnifying the City of Saint Paul shall be submitted with the application subject to the approval of the city attorney as to form and in an amount as set forth in Minnesota Statutes, Section 466.04.
Fences in Historic Districts
All fences in historic districts are subject to a Fence Plan Review (see requirements above).
All fences in historic districts are also subject to a Design Review by the Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) staff.
NOTE: You may apply for the Fence Plan Review and the HPC Design Review simultaneously, but HPC approval is required before the Fence Plan Review can be approved.
Unless grading activity is included in a general building permit, a grading permit shall be required for the placement, removal or movement of more than fifty (50) cubic yards of fill. If you have questions, please contact Plan Review at 651-266-9007.
You must submit an application that includes the following:
- A completed General Building Permit Application (Description of Project listed as "Grading" and list Cubic Yards moved.)
- Site Plan with existing and proposed conditions, 1 foot contours and elevation points, ponding areas for storm water retention
- Required fee (See Grading Permit Fee Schedule Below)
CUBIC YARDS PERMIT FEE < 100 $36.00 100 - 1,000 $36.00 for the first one hundred (100) cubic yards, plus $27.00 for each additional one hundred (100) cubic yards or fraction thereof. 1,001 - 10,000 $263.00 for the first one thousand (1,000) cubic yards, plus $22.00 for each additional one thousand (1,000) cubic yards or fraction thereof. 10,001 - 100,000 $452.00 for the first ten thousand (10,000) cubic yards, plus $96.00 for each additional ten thousand (10,000) cubic yards or fraction thereof. > 100,000 $1,317.00 for the first one hundred (100,000) cubic yards, plus $53.00 for each additional ten thousand (10,000) cubic yards or fraction thereof.
Site Plan Review
Any grading or filling that disturbs a site larger than 10,000 square feet or a slope greater than 12% requires a Site Plan Review.
A Moving Permit is required to move buildings into, within, through, or out of the City of Saint Paul. Moving contractors licensed by the State of Minnesota may obtain permits to move buildings. Requirements vary according to the size and type of the structure to be moved.
See Chapter 370.02 of the Saint Paul Legislative Code for information about Certificates of Competency. See Chapter 25 of the International Building Code and Chapter 7 of the Minnesota Residential Code for information about Plaster and Stucco. See Section 1405.3 of the International Building Code and Sec. R703.8 of the Minnesota Residential Code for information about flashing of windows, doors and other exterior penetrations. See Sec. R703.6.3 of the Minnesota Residential Code for information about the requirement for two layers of Grade D building paper over wood-based sheathing. Note: Tar or felt paper is not acceptable for this application.
Please call the inspector listed on your permit for for required inspection(s), between 7:30 am and 9:00 am, Monday-Friday.
Lath Inspection: To be made after all lath is installed, but prior to the application of any cement or plaster.
Special Inspections: For the application of spray-applied, fire resistive materials, the owner, or engineer or architect of record acting as the owner's agent, shall employ a qualified special inspector to determine thickness and density.
Plastering, Stucco, Veneer Plaster and Exterior Insulation & Finish System Re-Dash, Patching and Spray-On Fireproofing: The permit fee is 1% of the estimated job cost, with a minimum fee of $85.The state surcharge is based on the estimated cost of the project: If the estimated cost is $1.00 to $1,000.00, the state surcharge is $.50. If the estimated cost is over $1,001, the state surcharge is .0005 multiplied times the estimated cost.
Each permit issued shall expire if the work authorized by the permit is not commenced within 180 days from the date issued, or if the work is suspended or abandoned at any time after the work has begun for a period of 180 days. In addition, exterior work done on a single-family or two-family dwelling (including garages) must be completed within one year from the date issued. Interior and exterior work done on commercial properties (including hotels and apartment buildings) where the permit valuation is under $500,000 must be completed within one year from the date issued. See Chapter 33.04 of the Saint Paul Legislative Code.