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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. A homeowner obtaining their own permit is required to supervise the entire project and is expected to be present for all inspections. They are also responsible for knowing the applicable codes related to the project they are supervising.
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The Massachusetts State Building Code Section 105.1 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.
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 105.5 of the State Building Code states that "Every permit issued shall become invalid unless the work on the site authorized by such permit is commenced within 180 days after the issuance, or if the work authorized on the site by such permit is suspended or abandoned for a period of 180 days after the work has commenced." 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.
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.
No. Work cannot proceed until the permit has been issued. Penalties can be issued if work is started without 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 3 days 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.
For the purpose of determining when a license is required, per 780 CMR 110.R5.1.2, 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 one or two family dwelling, 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."
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. Work subject to required inspections that are closed up with out the required inspection could be required to be removed to access the required inspection area.
Typically we can do same day inspections depending on how busy we are. 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".
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, a large number of inspections and the unpredictability of the length of time each inspection may take makes precise appointments difficult.
No. These calls must be made by the licensed plumber or electrician. The amount of notice required is stated in their respective codes.
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 a determination that the work is in compliance with the approved plans. An inspector can choose not to perform the inspection if the approved plans are not available.
No. State law requires anyone performing electrical, plumbing or gas work to be licensed.
If the work involves a new structure, addition to an existing structure, a deck, a shed, a pool, then a plot plan is required.
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.
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.
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.
For all new houses, inground pools, and any structures that are close to the required setbacks, a certified "as-built" plot plan must be submitted to Inspectional Services after completion of the foundation. Framing cannot proceed until the asbuilt plot plan has been submitted.
Yes. A fence at least 6 feet high, and gates must be self-closing and self-latching. For further information on the requirements see the 2015 International Swimming Pool and Spa Code and it will describe the requirements.
Section 201 of the State Building Code defines ordinary repairs as "any maintenance which does not affect the 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 floorboards can be replaced on a deck, but the deck cannot be rebuilt without a permit. Also, damaged roof shingles can be repaired, but the entire roof cannot 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.