21 Minnesota counties enforce state building codes

Thursday marked one week since the deadly collapse of a 12-story condo in Surfside, which has prompted both questions and concerns across the country from residents questions their local building safety measures.  

Here in Minnesota, there are construction and inspection standard for new buildings implemented by the state.

"In Minnesota, we’re actually in a pretty good place because we do have a construction standard that does apply throughout the entire state," Scott McKown, the assistant director of the Construction Codes and Licensing Division at the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, tells FOX 9. 

According to McKown,  there are also statutes and rules in place that require buildings to be designed by professionals.

"That means building,  like the building that unfortunately collapsed in Florida, are required to be designed in Minnesota by engineers and architects," he adds. 

Only new buildings, additions and renovations are required to have the construction inspected in Minnesota. There are currently no state or local law that requires existing buildings to be reinspected at certain intervals, according to a spokesperson from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. 

Yet, there is a state building code standard that has been in place since 1972, which McKown says gets updated every six years.  At least 21 of the 87 counties in Minnesota enforces it – which offers some protection to building tenants.

"In areas that have the building code enforce, there is a rule that says that the owners or the owners' agents are required to maintain their buildings in a safe and sanitary and structural manner," says McKown. "If there was a complaint or an alleged violation, then a building official in that municipality could go out and inspect the building. 

McKown says in areas that have not actively adopted the building code, there is also a statute where municipalities can go in and require to have buildings maintained and updated if buildings are unsafe under Statute 463.

For people living in a building that they feel is unsafe or not up to code, Mckown says the best thing to do is start with local and county officials, first. 

"I always tell people don’t be afraid to contact your local town or city and say, ‘Hey, I have this concern’ and see if they can put you in contact with the appropriate person," he says. "A lot of cities have rental licensing programs or property maintenance programs that they can implement to do different things."  

According to McKown, Minnesota has not had significant structural damage to a building that has resulted in fatalities.