Frequently Asked Questions

When is a building permit required?

A building permit is required to construct, reconstruct, alter, repair, remove or demolish a structure; or to change the use or occupancy or a building or structure; or to install or alter any equipment for which provision is made or the installation which is regulated by 780 CMR. A permit is required for work including, but not limited to; the substantial cutting away of any wall, partition or portion thereof, the removal or cutting of any structural beam or load-bearing support, or the removal or change of any required means or egress, or rearrangement of parts of a structure affecting the egress requirements or mechanical systems or other work affecting public health or general safety under the jurisdiction of 780 CMR.

Permits are also required for solid fuel burning appliances, roofing, windows, siding, temporary tents, and signs.

Work exempt from a building permit includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • One-story detached accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided the floor area is not greater than 120 square feet.
  • Fences not over 7 feet in height.
  • Retaining walls that are not over 4 feet in height (measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall.
  • Sidewalks and driveways not more than 30 inches above adjacent grade, and not over any basement or story below and are not part of an accessible route.
  • Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, counter tops and similar finish work (however, a plumbing permit may be required).
  • Prefabricated swimming pools accessory to a single family dwelling that are less than 24 inches deep (wall height, NOT water depth), are not greater than 5,000 gallons and are installed entirely above ground.
  • Swings and other playground equipment accessory to a one or two family dwelling.
  • Greenhouses 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.
  • Shade cloth structures constructed for nursery or agricultural purposes, not including service systems.
  • Nonfixed and movable fixtures, cases, racks, counters and partitions not over five feet nine inches in height.
  • Temporary motion picture, television and theater stage sets.

Should you have any questions as to whether or not you need to obtain a permit, or would like to verify a contractor’s license, please feel free to contact the Building Department Staff.

How Do I submit a permit application?

Permit applications are available for download here View building documents or at the office. Completed permit applications can be mailed to our Department, or dropped off at City Hall. There is also a drop box at the entrance of City Hall to drop off applications after hours. Please make sure that permit applications have all required paperwork and the appropriate fee. Fees can be made by check or money order only. Permits are mailed to the homeowner, however, if you would like the permit mailed elsewhere, please include a self-addressed stamped envelope and a copy will be mailed to the address provided.

What Documents are required for permit submittal?

The following is a list of documents that are required to submit with your permit application (some or all may apply):

  • The completed permit application. Please make sure the application is completed in its entirety, and signed by all appropriate parties.
  • The permit fee in the form of a check or money order.
  • Workmans Comp Affidavit and Certificate of Liability Insurance.
  • Copies of all required licenses (CSL and HIC).
  • Homeowners Exemption form (required for homeowners performing their own work).
  • Demolition Debris form.
  • 2 sets of building plans if not providing digital copies. Any plans requiring the approval of the Fire Department must be submitted directly to the Fire Department for approval. Fire Department prefers digital plans.
  • Any asbestos testing documentation, depending on the scope of work.
  • Any copies of any approvals from Boards having jurisdiction, filed at the registry of Deeds, if applicable to the project. Please note that if your project required a special permit/site plan review/variance, please make sure ALL conditions of said relief have been met prior to submitting the permit application. Each project is approved with a specific set of conditions unique to the project, so please be sure to read the conditions listed in the permit that was granted.
  • New construction requires a plot plan drawn by a Massachusetts Licensed Land Surveyor, showing enough detail to determine compliance of the zoning ordinance. Additions and accessory structures are allowed to submit a hand drawn plot plan, however, if there is question as to whether the proposed structure meets zoning requirements, you may be required to obtain a surveyed plot plan.