Building Permit Application Procedure

When do I need to obtain a building permit?
Generally when you are doing any type of construction work, you are required to get a building permit. This includes, but is not limited to, work on new structures, additions, decks, roofing, siding, dormers, chimneys, woodstoves, swimming pools, antennae, and sheds.

From a legal stand point the Massachusetts State Building Code Section 105.1 and R105.1 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.

What is an ordinary repair?
Section 202 & R202 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 Building Department before the start of work.

What is the penalty for working without a permit?
The State Building Code Section 114.4 and R113.4 and MGL, CH143 Sect. 94 allows for a fine of up to $1,000.00 per day. If work requiring inspections is covered, it will be required to be uncovered for inspection, and if any work is in violation of the building code or zoning by-law, it will be required to be corrected. Failure to obtain a building permit may jeopardize your homeowner's insurance.

How do I apply for a building permit?
Applications can be obtained at the Building Department. For further information, refer to the Building Permit Application - Click here for Information and Instructions.

Is any other information required to be submitted with the application?
Yes. For most projects, two sets of construction plans and one copy of a plot plan must accompany the application.

Can I begin work once I submit my application?
No. Work can not proceed until the permit has been issued.

How long does it take to obtain a permit?
The Building Department 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.

Will I be informed when the permit is issued, or do I have to keep calling to find out the status?
The applicant will be called when the permit is ready. When the permit is ready, it must be picked up at the Building Department.