Building & Zoning

Building Official Responsibilities

The Building Official interprets, administers, and enforces the city building code and plumbing code, which are based upon the State of Minnesota building code and plumbing code. The primary objective of the building official is to work with citizens, business owners, contractors, etc. to help them understand the importance of building codes and to help them incorporate the code provisions into their respective building projects.

Examples of projects for which building permits are required include all buildings and structures erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, etc. Building permit fees are based on the valuation of the project. The City of International Falls and its residents are fortunate to have a certified building official on staff who is licensed by the State of Minnesota, experienced in the construction trade, knowledgeable, practical, and easy to work with. When undertaking a project within the city that requires a building permit, please set aside some time at the beginning of your project to meet with the city’s building official, in the end, you’ll be glad that you did.

Commonly Occurring Questions

How and where do I obtain a building permit?
You can download a building permit application here or obtain one at the administration counter or from the building and zoning official at the Municipal Building, 600 4th St.

What information do I need to provide to the building official in order to obtain a building permit?
Please bring your permit application in order to obtain a building permit.

How much will the building permit cost?
The cost of a building permit is based on cost of the project. Please view our fee schedule for current permit and license costs.

Do I need a building permit for replacement of roofing, siding, windows, and/or doors?
Yes, you do need a permit for these activities.

What are things that I do not need a permit for?

  • One story tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses note exceeding 120 square feet (requires zoning approval)
  • Decks, landings and unroofed porches not more than 30 inches above grade and not structurally connected to the dwelling (requires zoning approval)
  • Painting, wall papering, ceramic tile and similar wall finishes
  • Carpeting and other floor coverings including wood floors
  • Cabinets, countertops and vanities
  • Window awnings supported by the exterior wall of the dwelling
  • Patios, private sidewalks and replacement of non-structural garage floors
  • Retaining walls that are not over four feet in height from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall


The city building official utilizes State of Minnesota building officials and State of Minnesota plumbing officials as resources for verifying code updates, statute revisions, compliance requirements, etc. for the building code as well as the plumbing code.

Zoning Department Responsibilities

The zoning official interprets, administers, and enforces the city’s land use regulations and zoning regulations for the citizens of International Falls. The city is divided into zone districts, such as residential zones, commercial zones, manufacturing zones, etc. In each zone district, land and structures may be used only for the purposes provided under permitted uses, except those uses listed under conditional uses. A copy of the city’s zoning map is available at the Municipal Building, located at 600 4th Street in International Falls. Examples of commonly asked question topics relevant to land use and zoning issues are:

  • Building setbacks from property lines
  • Conditional use permits
  • Fence setbacks from property lines
  • Maximum building size, building height, etc.
  • Sign / billboard permits
  • Zoning variances

These questions can be answered by contacting the zoning official.


The zoning official works closely with the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The zoning official works with the Airport Commission Zoning Department when the subject property is within airport property, airport runway glide path, etc.

The zoning official assigns addresses within the city limits and also works with the Koochiching County Sheriff to determine 9-1-1 compliant addresses for property inside and outside of city limits.

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