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 website or call 1.800.352.0867 to find out if a contractor is licensed. 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 if any complaints have been filed against the contractor you are considering 701.271.2855. Remember to ask the contractor for references. You may also wish to view the North Dakota State Attorney General's website on avoiding disaster scams and choosing a contractor: North Dakota State Attorney General
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.
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 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 do I get a permit?
Please visit our online permit portal to register for an account, and apply for your permit. Someone in our office will review your request and work with you to complete your permit via the portal.
Visit us at City Hall (225 4th 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 online 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.
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. Please visit our Forms & Publications page to view our Detached Garages and Accessories handout. Forms & Publications
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. 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, such as chain link) anywhere in front of your home. It is recommended that you keep your fence about 2 feet back from your property line in order to maintain both sides of it without going onto your neighbor's property. Please visit our Forms & Publications page to view a graphic in PDF format explaining the fence regulations, which may be especially helpful if you live on a corner. Forms & Publications
Do I need to place a fence around my pool?
The 2018 International Property Maintenance Code Section 303.2 states that private swimming pools, hot tubs and spas, containing water more than 24 inches in depth shall be completely surrounded by a fence or barrier not less than 48 inches in height above the finished ground level measured on the side of the barrier away from the pool. Gates and doors in such barriers shall be self-closing and self-latching. Where the self-latching device is less than 54 inches above the bottom of the gate, the release mechanism shall be located on the pool side of the gate. Self-closing and self-latching gates shall be maintained such that the gate will positively close and latch when released from an open position of 6 inches from the gate post. An existing pool enclosure shall not be removed, replaced or changed in a manner that reduced its effectiveness as a safety barrier.
Where are my lot lines?
While the City of Fargo does not survey for lot lines, please visit Engineering Services for tips on finding them yourself.
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. 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. Please visit our house moving page for more detailed information.