All About Building Permits
Why do I need a permit?
When a permit is issued the holder of the permit is given legal permission to start construction or do modifications to a building. We can trace permit requirements back to ancient times. Today the construction industry standards have evolved into minimum standards designed to protect the general public’s health and safety. The Code Official’s job is to enforce the legislatively adopted laws of the Commonwealth for the benefit of the consumer.
No code can eliminate all risks. Reducing risks to acceptable levels helps prevent most potential hazards to the building’s occupants and users. “Safe buildings for a safe tomorrow” is the ultimate goal of all codes for the building environment. The development and use of regulatory documents and the acceptance of innovative products and systems are a byproduct of technical advances in our times.
Most individuals overlook the need for a permit until some catastrophic event occurs. We try to assure compliance with local zoning codes, the State Building Code, the State Wiring Code and the State Plumbing and Gas Code. From zoning issues to code review, from field inspections to structural conformity, from foundation to occupancy permits, the inspectors are looking out for your best interest !
No matter which area is of concern for you , all construction codes serve the same purpose: to protect the public health, safety, and welfare by requiring safe construction.
When do I need a permit?
Permits are typically required for the following, but remember to check with this office before beginning your specific project.
- Windows – Doors – Roofing – Siding
- Burglar / Fire Alarm Systems
- Fireplace / Wood stoves
- HVAC System (Heating, venting and air conditioning)
- Parking Areas
- Prefabricated structures
- Temporary structures
- Sheds over 200 sq. ft for 1 + 2 family residence / 120 sq. ft (for other than)
- Finish basement or attic
- Electrical systems
- New construction
- Plumbing Systems
- Swimming pools that contain more than 24 inches of water
- Fences over 6 ft high
- Tents – call for verification
- Retaining walls over 48 inches that retain a surcharge
What is the permit process?
The process is generally the same for building, wiring, plumbing and mechanical. In addition, fire prevention and sprinkler permits will also require the input and approval of the local fire department.
- Submission of the application and documentation to the department. You may need to consult with other town departments, boards and committees for their approval.
- Consideration and plan review of all of your applications, documents and plans against all applicable codes, rules and regulations.
- Decision from the inspector. You may be approved or denied. There are appeal processes that will be explained to you if you receive a denial.
- Inspection of the work in progress. Each phase must be inspected for completeness, compliance with the construction documents and the applicable codes.
- Final acceptance and the issuance of the occupancy permit if required.
What should I do to prepare for a permit?
RESEARCH YOUR PROPERTY BEFORE, NOT AFTER!
You are the property owner. You have invested time, energy and a substantial sum of money into your property. You will be relying on the structural safety of the building that surrounds you each day, at home and at work. Research your investment before and not after your purchase.
Find out if there are outstanding code violations or zoning violations on the property. “Buyer beware” is an old saying, however it is very much evident when a problem arises later. Has all the work that has been done on the building been permitted and approved by the local officials? Are there records to substantiate this?
Problems can be avoided if you do your homework first. Engineers, architects and other professionals may be needed if the work was done illegally or in violation of any codes. Your investment could be in jeopardy if the building is not in compliance.
What other information should I know?
Do you realize that before an occupancy permit could be issued for your building a building inspector made at least four inspections, and the wiring, plumbing/gas and mechanical inspectors at least two inspections each ?
- We do this to verify conformance with the minimum requirements of building, electrical, plumbing and gas, and mechanical codes.
- The changing aspects of our codes require each of us to keep up with technological advances by maintaining continuing education programs by attending training sessions; and for building officials, obtaining and maintaining certification.