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The Massachusetts State Building Code Section 113.1 states that "it shall be unlawful to construct, reconstruct, alter, repair, remove or demolish a structure; or to change the use or occupancy of a building or structure; or to install or alter any equipment for which provision is made or the installation of which is regulated by this code" without first obtaining a building permit. This includes, but is not limited to, new structures, additions, dormers, chimneys, woodstoves, decks, roofing, siding, swimming pools, antennae, and sheds. The only exception is an ordinary repair. An ordinary repair does not require a building permit.
Paving projects do not require a building permit but will require a permit from the Engineering Department if work is being done within the public right-of-way. There are also zoning restrictions on the amount and location of paving, so check first with the Office of Community Development.
Section 201 of the State Building Code defines ordinary repairs as "any maintenance which does not affect structure, egress, fire protection systems, fire ratings, energy conservation provisions, plumbing, sanitary, gas, electrical, or other utilities. This has been interpreted to mean that rotted floor boards can be replaced on a deck, but the deck can not be rebuilt without a permit. Also, damaged roof shingles can be repaired, but the entire roof can not be re-shingled without a permit. If in doubt as to how much work can be done under ordinary repairs, contact the Inspectional Services Department before the start of work.
No. Work can not proceed until the permit has been issued.
The Office of Community Development has a maximum of 30 days in which to issue or deny a building permit. The actual time can vary from 1 day up to the maximum 30 day limit, depending on the number of applications ahead of yours, and the scope of work. Generally, the smaller jobs will take a shorter time, with new buildings taking close to the full 30 days, so allow for this in your scheduling.
Section 114.3 of the State Building Code states that "any permit issued shall be deemed abandoned and invalid unless the work authorized by it shall have been commenced within 6 months after its issuance; however, for cause, one or more extensions of time, for periods not exceeding 6 months each, may be granted in writing by the Building Commissioner or Inspector of Buildings." Extensions are normally granted without any trouble. However, if there have been changes to the Zoning By-Law or building code subsequent to the original issuance of the permit, any grandfather status may be lost if work has not begun (i.e., you will have to comply to the new requirements). Any requests for extension must be submitted in writing.
Note: Any work not begun in six (6) months after a permit is issued voids the permit.
When work is started without the applicable permit, the applicable fee can be doubled upon first notification and tripled subsequent to completion.
No fees paid are refundable or transferable.
Yes. It is the responsibility of the permit holder to call Inspectional Services to arrange for the required inspections. Required inspections are indicated on the inspection record card, which you receive when your permit is approved.
The card must be posted in a location visible from the street and accessible to the inspector. Generally, the best location is inside a front storm door.
Yes. If you submitted plans along with your permit application, a copy of these plans, bearing an "approved" stamp was returned to you with the approved building card. This copy must be available for the inspector to review for determination that the work is in compliance with the approved plans.
Section 111.2 of the State Building Code states that the contractor must give the inspector 24 hours notice prior to the time when the inspection needs to be performed. It further states " the Building Inspector shall make the inspection within 48 hours after such notification".
No. These calls must be made by the licensed plumber or electrician. The amount of notice required is stated in their respective codes.
If access to the new work requires the inspector to walk through your existing, furnished house, someone must be present to let the inspector in. The inspector will not enter an unoccupied furnished house. We also will not enter a house in which only a child is home, unaccompanied by an adult. In these cases, please make arrangements with the inspector for a time to meet. We will try to accommodate your schedule as much as possible. However, the large number of inspections, and the unpredictability of the length of time each inspection may take, makes precise appointments difficult.
Section 109.1.1 of the State Building Code states that no structural work shall be done without a construction supervisor's license. A homeowner can do work on his/her own home without a license provided that if the homeowner engages a person for hire to do such work that the homeowner shall act as supervisor.
For the purpose of determining when a license is required, a homeowner is defined as a "person(s) who owns a parcel of land on which he/she resides or intends to reside, on which there is, or is intended to be, a dwelling of six or less units, attached or detached structures accessory to such use and/or farm structures. A person who constructs more than one home in a two-year period shall not be considered a homeowner."
If the work involves a new structure or an addition to an existing structure, a plot plan is required.
The purpose of a plot plan is for determination of compliance with dimensional controls of the Zoning By-Law. A mortgage plan is only a rough approximation of where the house is located, and was prepared only for mortgage purposes. Due to the inaccuracy of these plans, they can only be used if the project is far in excess of the required setbacks (generally, at least 5 feet in excess of the required setback). If the plan shows that your project will be close to the required setbacks, a more accurate plan will be required.
No. Plot plans can only be prepared by a Registered Land Surveyor, and must bear his/her stamp.
Mortgage plans can sometimes be obtained from the bank. Also, Inspectional Services has plans on file for many properties in town. If available, these may be acceptable. Otherwise, you must contact a Registered Land Surveyor to prepare a plan for you.
For all new houses and for additions which are close to the required setbacks a certified "as-built" plot plan must be submitted to Inspectional Services after completion of the foundation. Framing can not proceed until the plot plan has been submitted.
Yes. The State Building Code defines a swimming pool as any pool with an area greater than 250 square feet and a depth greater than 2 feet. If your pool does not meet both of these criteria, then it is not considered a swimming pool and does not need a building permit.
Yes. A swimming pool must be set back a minimum of 10 feet to the water line.
Yes. A fence at least 4 feet high, and gates must be self closing and self latching.