Frequently Asked Questions
How do I select a contractor?
While the City of Fargo cannot specifically recommend a contractor, there are some guidelines you may want to follow when choosing someone to do work on your property. First, make sure that you hire a licensed contractor. You can visit the Secretary of State's web site or call 1-800-352-0867 to find that information. You can also contact the Home Builders' Association of Fargo-Moorhead online or at 701-232-5846.
It may also be helpful to ask the North Dakota/Minnesota Better Business Bureau (701-271-2855) if any complaints have been filed against the contractor you are considering, and to ask the contractor for references. You can view these suggestions as a Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat .pdf file. You may also wish to view the North Dakota State Attorney General's on avoiding disaster scams and choosing a contractor.
When do I need a permit?
Permits are required for any new construction, addition, remodeling project, or structural alteration as well as mechanical, electrical, and plumbing projects. We do not require permits for finish work such as new cabinets, painting, or replacing or covering shingles or for flat work such as patios made of brick, paving stones, or concrete slabs on which you will not be building anything. You do need a permit for sheetrock, siding, stairs/steps, or a deck. If you are not sure if you need a permit, please contact us at 701-241-1561 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why do I have to get a building permit?
The building code, which is the collection of rules and regulations governing construction projects (both new and/or remodel work), requires you to obtain a permit before doing certain types of construction. The building code is adopted by the City of Fargo as a law. Permits allow the City of Fargo to know when you are building or adding to a structure so that our staff knows which jobs need to be inspected. A permit also establishes a record of the construction and remodeling history of your property, which can be important when it comes time to sell, refinance, or insure your home.
How much will the permit cost?
Please see our page about permit fees to calculate how much your particular building permit will cost. We do not currently charge for plan reviews on residential projects, but there is a plan review/routing fee for commercial projects involving new buildings or any addition of square footage. Remember that there are separate permits required for heating/mechanical, plumbing and electrical work.
How do I get a permit?
Visit us at City Hall (200 3rd Street North, in beautiful downtown Fargo). Make sure you know the address of the property where the work will be done. You may also wish to contact us or view the city's on-line maps to find out how your property is zoned and if that designation allows for the project you are proposing, especially if you intend to add an apartment to your home. Bring a sketch or plan for what you would like to do and an estimate of how much the project is going to cost. If you are having contractors do part or all of the work, make sure you ask them if they will be obtaining the permit. For new homes, you will need to submit two sets of signed drawings, a complete set of truss drawings, and a completed application. The application is available as a Microsoft Word document or an Adobe Acrobat .pdf file.
I'm building a shed. What are the City's requirements?
If your shed will be larger than 120 square feet (10' X 12'), then you will need a permit. Whatever the size, it must be at least 3 feet from the rear or side property lines and be completely behind the house (not next to any portion of it) or it must meet the standard side setback if it will be next to the house. This setback will depend on the zoning and the width of your lot. It cannot be in front of the front line of your home. You may also download our pamphlet as a Microsoft Word document or an Adobe Acrobat .pdf file.
I want to put a fence around my yard. What restrictions are in place?
The City of Fargo's fence regulations are a little complicated. You can view a graphic in PDF format explaining the fence regulations, which may be especially helpful if you live on a corner. In general, you do not need a permit unless your fence will be more than 6 ½ feet tall. You may not build a fence taller than 3 feet (4 feet if you can see through it, like chain link) anywhere in front of your home. It is recommended that you keep your fence about two feet back from your property line in order to maintain both sides of it without going onto your neighbor's property.
Can I move a house or garage in Fargo's jurisdiction?
You may only move a garage or home if you are a licensed house mover. Please see our page on house moving for more detailed information. You do not need a permit from the City to move a single-wide mobile home or a double-wide mobile home moved in two sections.