Do I need to obtain a building permit?

All work to construct, repair, renovate, or demolish a structure requires a building permit. This includes major construction as well as smaller projects, including but not limited to:

  • Wood/pellet stoves
  • Vinyl siding
  • Roof reshingling
  • Replacement windows
  • Swimming pools (inground and aboveground)
  • Sheds of 200 square feet or larger for Residential only

The codes pertaining to work do not require a building permit. It is always best to check with the building department prior to starting any project of which you may be unsure. Also keep in mind that just because a building permit is not required other permits or approvals may be required such as electrical, plumbing, and gas, Zoning Board of Appeals, and Board of Health and Conservation to name a few.

R105.2 Work Exempt from Permit. Except for activities that may require a permit pursuant to other laws, and the specialized codes of M.G.L. c. 143, § 96, a building permit is not required for the following activities:

  • One-story detached accessory structures provided that the floor area does not exceed 200 square feet (18.58 m2).
  • Fences not over 7 feet (2134 mm) high.
  • Retaining walls that are not over 4 feet (1219 mm) in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge.
  • Water tanks are supported directly upon grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons (18 927 L) and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2 to 1.
  • Sidewalks and driveways.
  • Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, countertops, and similar finish work.
  • Prefabricated swimming pools that are less than 24 inches (610 mm) deep.
  • Swings and other playground equipment (also refer to 521 CMR for accessibility requirements as applicable)
  • Window awnings are supported by an exterior wall that does not project more than 54 inches (1372 mm) from the exterior wall and do not require additional support.
  • Decks not exceeding 200 square feet (18.58 m2) in area, that are not more than 30 inches (762 mm) above grade at any point, and are not attached to a dwelling do not serve the exit door required by Section R311.4. Proposed 9th Edition of 780 CMR (Residential Volume) 13
  • Greenhouses are covered exclusively with plastic film. This exemption does not apply if the greenhouse is to be used for large assemblies of people or uses other than normally expected for this purpose.

Show All Answers

1. How are electrical permit fees calculated?
2. How much is the fee for a water heater?
3. How much will my permit cost?
4. What happens if I do work without obtaining a permit
5. Do I need to obtain a building permit?
6. The Building Commissioner has made a determination with which I disagree. Can I appeal his decision to the Zoning Board of Appeals?
7. What can I expect if I need to request a hearing?
8. I understand that my lot is non-conforming and that I need to obtain special permission from the Zoning Board of Appeals to proceed with my project. What does this mean?
9. Is my lot non-conforming? What does this mean?
10. If I don’t have a plot plan, where can I get one?
11. Can I prepare my own plot plan if I am certain where my property line is?
12. I have a mortgage plan that was given to me by the bank when I purchased my home. Can this be used?
13. Is a plot plan required?
14. Can I call for an oil burner inspection?
15. Can I call for plumbing and electrical inspections?
16. Where should I keep the inspection record card?
17. When I start construction, is the work inspected?
18. My project is completed. How do I get my certificate of occupancy/completion?
19. Once I obtain my permit, how long do I have to start the work? How long do I have to finish my project?
20. How long does it take to obtain a permit?
21. Can I begin work once I submit my application?
22. I just completed gas work at my customer’s home. How do I set up an inspection?
23. My gas fitter just finished the job. Can I call in the inspection?
24. How are gas permit fees calculated?
25. I’ve been having a hard time getting in touch with my gas fitter. Can I come in and pull a gas permit as a homeowner, and not a licensed gas fitter?
26. I have a building permit already. Can I perform necessary gas work under my building permit?
27. I just completed plumbing work at my customer's home. How do I set up an inspection?
28. My plumber just finished the job. Can I call in the inspection?
29. How are plumbing permit fees calculated?
30. I’ve been having a hard time getting in touch with my plumber. Can I come in and pull a plumbing permit as a homeowner, and not a licensed plumber?
31. I am an electrician and just completed the rough wiring. How do I set up an inspection?
32. My electrician just finished the job. Can I call in the inspection?
33. I would like to perform my own electrical work. Can I pull a permit as a homeowner and not a licensed electrician?
34. I hired a general contractor to organize my project and set up all contractors, so he has obtained all the permits that are legally required…right?
35. I have a building permit already. Can I perform necessary electrical work under my building permit?
36. I have a building permit already. Can I perform necessary electrical work under my building permit?