Town Talk: Why do I need a permit for that?

Building permits can often be a tricky subject whether you’re a contractor or homeowner. Why do I need a permit and when do I need a permit?

“Why” do I need a permit?

The purpose of this code is to establish minimum requirements to safeguard the public health, safety, and general welfare through structural strength, means of egress facilities, stability, sanitation, adequate light and ventilation, energy conservation, and safety to life and property from fire and other hazards attributed to the built environment and to provide safety to firefighters and emergency responders during emergency operations. (Minnesota Rules Chapter 1300.0030)

“When” do I need a permit?

An owner or authorized agent who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish, or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert, or replace any gas, mechanical, electrical, plumbing system, or other equipment, the installation of which is regulated by the code; or cause any such work to be done, shall first make application to the building official and obtain the required permit. (Minnesota Rules Chapter 1300.0120)

As explained in the above paragraphs, the reason for the building code and permit requirements is for the general safety of all individuals who enter any building or occupy a space. From going over to the neighbors and having a get together on their deck to going to a Viking’s game in a state of the art stadium, building codes were followed to make that space safe.

Have you ever walked in to a restaurant and the door is hard to open? There are mechanical codes that provide information to the contractors so they know how much fresh outside air needs to enter the building, to compensate for the air exiting through the hood over the cooking appliances. If the exhaust air flow exceeds the fresh air flow coming in, a vacuum results, and makes it hard to open the entry door.

Have you ever walked into a building, looked around and wondered if you were in danger of the building collapsing? Generally, this is not your first thought when you walk through the front door, and that is a good thing. Building codes were created to make sure you don’t have to worry about the roof over your head or the floor under your feet. In addition, exit signs, exit doors and emergency lights are strategically located to be seen in case of an emergency. The distance to an exit door is calculated so you can reach safety in a timely manner.

Building codes are developed and enforced to ensure that you don’t have to think about fresh air intake or structural wall strength of the building you are walking into. The building code was developed and is enforced to help ensure the safety of the building, so you can go about your daily routine.

The main reason for building and mechanical codes is for you and your family’s safety, whether in your home, at work, or out in public. Building codes are a preventive tool used to stop bad things from happening to the residents and visitors of our community.

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Editor’s Note: The City of New Ulm presents a weekly column highlighting activities in different departments in the city government. Once a month the city will answer questions from readers. Questions on New Ulm city issues can be sent to comments@ci.new-ulm.mn.us.

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