Q: For which projects are building permits required?

A: Most, but not all projects typically require a building permit. Work Requiring HIC or CSL September 4, 2009 doc format of inf_bbrs_work_requiring_hic_csl.doc
(91kb) which indicates which activities require a permit.

Q: How long does it take to process the building permit application?

A: The State Building Code establishes that an inspector has 30 days after submission of a completed application to render a response. A response (or action) may be in the form of an approval of the application (resulting in the issuance of the permit), a request for additional information, or a denial of the application for a cited reason (i.e. a specific violation of 780 CMR (the State Building Code), a relevant zoning regulation, or other pertinent law or regulation within the direct jurisdiction of the inspector). Incomplete applications will be returned to the applicant.

Q: Is there a building permit fee?

A: There are fees for all building projects. For municipal building permit fees, please refer to the municipal fee schedule . For state building permits, please refer to Appendix 120.X of the State Building Code.

Q: Does the Building Code define minimum requirements for building plan submissions?

A: Previous editions of the Building Code did not specify particular plan submissions. The Seventh Edition of the Code, under Section 5110.6, defines minimum plan submissions for single- and two-family dwelling buildings. At a minimum, construction documents (for single- and two-family dwellings) shall include the following:

1. Site plan;
2. Foundation plan and details (as necessary);
3. Floor plans (including basement and attic levels, if applicable);
4. Exterior building elevations;
5. Framing plans and\or building section(s) adequately depicting structural systems;
6. Schedules, legends and\or details, adequately depicting doors, windows and related material installations;
7. Fire protection system locations;
8. Energy conservation information.

Neither the 7 th Edition of the Code, nor the previous editions define minimum plan submissions for other building types. The reason is that it would be next to impossible to accurately define the minimal plans for a hospital building, for instance. Plan submissions for such an intricate project is commensurate with the job complexity of the project. Therefore, it is the obligation of the design professional to provide construction documents that accurately depict the building, its structure, and all building systems. The building official shall make the determination as to whether the documents are acceptable or require further detail.

The code currently requires, and will continue to require, that construction documents accurately depict the design and construction of the building. The Code specifically requires that construction documents identify the construction type of the building, its use group(s), information relative to the building's (and/or spaces within) occupant load, clear identification of fire separation and fire wall assemblies with ratings requirements and how such assemblies will maintain required ratings when/if penetrated, energy conservation compliance, etc. In most every chapter, the Code sets some criteria relative to plan content. If you are involved in the production of plans, please take care to note these requirements.

The Code states that a building official has discretion to waive plan requirements for smaller, less complex structures. The code further states that the building official may require the contractor to submit three sets of construction documents with an application for building permit. The building official has 30 days to review the documents and take an action.

Construction documents for buildings that require fire protection systems must be forwarded to the municipal (or state) fire official for review. The fire official has 10 days to review the systems and make note of potential code deficiencies. If the fire official requires more than 10 days to review the plans, he or she must issue a written request to the building official for additional time. (See questions relating to appeals procedures if action is not taken within prescribed time periods).