Q. Should I as the home owner obtain the building permit or should the contractor?
A. 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 home owner during construction could be the responsibility of the home owner regardless of other existing insurance policies.
Q. Should I have a written contract with my contractor?
A. Yes, it is the law for work valued at over $1,000 dollars. 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 contained in the attachments.
Q. What kind of work requires a building permit?
A. 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 & doors, decks, porches, pools, dormers, sheds, garages, walls, and changes in grade. A good rule to follow is that if you are unsure contact the Building Division.
Q. How long does it take to get a building permit?
A. Depending on the type of work involved, review periods vary. For ordinary repairs such as roofing, siding, replacement windows, decks and sheds that meet code requirements and have all necessary information, permits are generally issued the same day. New home construction, additions or substantial interior renovations that once again meet code requirements and have all necessary information generally are issued in about a week. Large scale commercial, residential, industrial or institutional projects with all required approvals and information provided take between two to four weeks.
Q. How much do permits cost?
A. Contained in the attachments on this site is a fee schedule that lists all permit fees.
Q. What are the regulations controlling fences?
A. Building permits are only required for fences over six (6’) feet in height. Fences over six 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 place up to the property line, although it is recommended that individuals maintain a minimum of a one (1’) foot off set 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.
Q. What if I think a neighbor has encroached onto my property?
A. 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.
Q. Can a Homeowner obtain a permit for plumbing or gas work?
A. 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.
Q. What are the names of the members of the Zoning Board of Appeal?
A. Chairman Stephen Karll, and Members Richard McDonough, Michael Ford and Michael Calder.
Q. I am having electrical work done in my home and my electrician has asked me to sign a liability insurance waiver on the electrical permit application. What are the risks?
A. 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.