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Beyond new construction or interior alterations or additions, a building permit is required for such projects including but not limited to roofing, siding, new or replacement windows and doors, decks, porches, pools, dormers, sheds, garages, walls, and changes in grade. A good rule to follow is that if you are unsure to contact the Building Division at 781-794-8070.
Under the State Building Code (780 CMR), it is the responsibility of the contractor to obtain the building permit if the property is between a one to four family, owner-occupied structure. This does not prohibit a property owner from obtaining their own building permit and acting as their own contractor. It should be noted, however, that persons obtaining their own permit are not eligible for recourse due to poor workmanship, contract issues or the like under the State Home Improvement Contractor Program. Additionally, liability for the accidents involving persons working under the direction of a homeowner during construction could be the responsibility of the homeowner regardless of other existing insurance policies.
Yes, it is the law for work valued at over $1,000. The contract should be as explicit as possible in order to remove any doubt as to what the contractors responsibilities will be and whom will be responsible for what costs (i.e. permits, material) Please refer to the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety, Sample Contract (PDF).
View the fee schedule (PDF) that lists all permit fees.
Depending on the type of work involved, review periods vary. Please contact the department for more specific information.
As with any waiver of this kind, should damage to your property occur as a result of improper wiring, recourse to pay for such damage could take far longer and be substantially more difficult for the homeowner. As such this department suggests that homeowners not sign this waiver.
No, Massachusetts General Law requires a licensed plumber / gas fitter to obtain all required permits and perform all work described on such permit. However, there are certain exceptions to the requirement for a plumbing permit that homeowners may perform. A plumbing permit is not required for the repair of leaks in a faucet, valve or other working part of a plumbing fixture or the clearing of a clog in a pipe.
Yes, any size shed requires a permit.
Setback Requirements: The shed must be set back 5 feet on both sides and rear, and 20 feet from the street. A shed cannot be placed in a front yard.
Foundation Requirements: A shed of light frame construction, up to 600 sq. ft in area, does not require a foundation with frost protection.
1. Is a plot plan required? - If the work involves a new structure or an addition to an existing structure (including a vertical addition), a plot plan is required.
2. I have a mortgage plan that was given to me by the bank when I purchased the property. Can this be used? - The purpose of a plot plan is for determination of compliance with dimensional controls of the Zoning Ordinances. 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 involves non-permanent structures such as an above ground pool or a shed where no change in grade is proposed.
3. Can I prepare my own plot plan if I am certain where my property line is? - No. Plot plans can only be prepared by a Registered Land Surveyor, and must bear that person’s stamp.
4. What if I have over 100 feet to my property line and it is obvious that I will not be anywhere near the required setbacks? - A stamped plot plan is still required. There may be easements, wetlands or other restrictions that the homeowner is not aware of and will only be shown on a stamped plot plan.
5. What information is required on a plot plan? - The surveyor will know the procedure for preparing a plot plan and the information required. Setbacks to all structures must be shown. If any structure is to be demolished, its location must be shown. Also, any easements must be indicated on the plan. Any new driveway must have setback from the property line and its slope shown on the plan. Trees with a diameter of 8" or more must be shown, and grades (before and after construction), must be shown. Some of these requirements may be waived if the work is of a minor nature.
6. If I have a plot plan, can I draw my addition on it? - No.
7. If I don’t have a plot plan, where can I get one? - Mortgage plans can sometimes be obtained from the bank. In addition, the Department of Municipal Licenses & Inspections has plans on file for many properties in the town. If available, these may be acceptable. Otherwise, you must contact a Registered Land Surveyor to prepare a plan for you.
8. Can the town recommend a surveyor? - No. We suggest that you use one that is familiar with the area, and also shop around because the cost can vary greatly.
9. How much is a plot plan? - You can expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars for a simple job to a few thousand dollars for more complex jobs. There are too many variables to give an accurate estimate. This amount should be considered when you are estimating the cost of your project.
10. How does the Department of Municipal Inspections know if the structure was placed in the proposed location? - For all new houses, a certified "as-built" plot plan must be submitted to the Department of Municipal Inspections after completion of the foundation. Framing cannot proceed until the plot plan is submitted.
Yes. State Building Code defines a swimming pool as any structure that contains water over 24 inches (610mm) in depth and which is used, or intended to be used, for swimming or recreational bathing.
Setback Requirements for a swimming pool: A swimming pool must be set back a minimum of 10 feet to the water line from the side and rear lines, and 20 feet from any street line. Swimming pools are not allowed in front yards.
Fence Requirements: Swimming pools must have a fence at least 4 feet high (for a residential pool), with a self closing and self-latching gate. If the wall of the house serves as part of the enclosure, any doors leading from the house to the pool must be alarmed.
Building permits are only required for fences over seven feet in height. Fences over seven feet in height, in addition to a building permit, require the approval of the Town’s Fence Viewer to ensure that the fence will not cause a dangerous or detrimental situation to abutting properties. The Town does not prescribe which side of the fence must face a neighbor, and fences may be placed up to the property line, although it is recommended that individuals maintain a minimum of a one foot offset from property lines so as to be able to maintain both sides of a fence without trespassing onto an abutting property. Additionally, if the boundary line is not known or not otherwise clearly defined, it is recommended that individuals engage the assistance of a Registered Land Surveyor to determine the location of such lot lines.
1. What if my project makes it impossible to comply with a provision in the building code? - The Department of Municipal Licenses does not have the authority to waive a requirement of the building code. If code compliance is not possible due to a unique situation, a variance must be obtained from the State Board of Building Regulations and Standards.
2. How do I obtain a variance? - Applications are available in the Department of Municipal Licenses or at the State Department of Public Safety. It is a lengthy process so allow ample time in your project scheduling.
3. What if something is not covered in the building code? - In that unlikely situation, the building inspector has the authority to approve or disapprove the proposed method of construction.
4. What if I don’t agree with a decision of the inspector? - If the disagreement cannot be resolved, an appeal can be filed with the State Board of Building Regulations and Standards, using the same application for a variance.
Matters involving disputes over property lines can only be handled by the County Land Court. A suggestion which is often made is to have your property surveyed by a Registered Land Surveyor, and if your concerns are confirmed, contact your neighbor and relay this information. If matters cannot be resolved through such dialogue you may consider legal action through a filing with the Norfolk County Land Court.
While churches and public/private schools are allowed in residential districts, the only business allowed to be operated from a residence is a home day care.