Inspection Process

What do I need a building permit for?

A building permit is required for all new:

  • Additions
  • Alterations
  • Construction
  • Most Replacements
  • Remodeling

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:
    • Cabinets
    • Countertops
    • Floor coverings
    • Painting
    • Papering
    • Tiling
  • 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?

  1. Permits are not required in most cases (please call the Planning/Zoning Department at 507-457-8250 to verify). If fences are over 6 feet, a variance may be required. If over 7 feet, a variance is required along with a permit.
  2. Determine your property lines by contacting a surveyor.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 residential districts, fences over 6 feet may need a variance.  In business and industrial zoning districts, fences may be up to 8 feet in the rear yard.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

  1. Before You Begin a Project
  2. Inspections
  3. Rental Checklist
  4. Solar Checklist


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:

  1. Discuss the project with the Inspections Department to clarify requirements and ensure that the project can be done.
  2. Submit the appropriate application, fees, and any other required documentation.
  3. Receive a permit card after you application is approved. In most cases, the permit card must be posted on the site.
  4. 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.

Scheduling Inspections

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.