Why do I have to tell the town what I am doing?

Garage Foundation

We get the question “Why do I need a permit” a lot from homeowners. In Massachusetts for virtually all projects (with some exceptions) you are required to have an approved building permit from the town prior to starting work on your home.

Recently in the town of Rockland, Ma took drastic steps against a homeowner after they did not follow zoning laws and not pay taxes on a home.  See the Article

It is important to work with the town to make sure your remodel will meet all the requirements. What could those be you ask? Well things like minimum lot size, distance from the “set back lines”, conservation, Board of Health restrictions, etc. Many times, the homeowner (or a 3rd party company hired by the owner) and not the contractor has to assist in gathering and presenting this information to the town.

If you are building an addition there are many items that various town departments that will want information before looking at the building permit application that you may not know or have readily available.   One of the first items will be to confirm that you can put the addition on your property and meet the required setback (distance from your lot lines) from your property lines.   So, from the beginning of the planning process we suggest getting a Certified Plot Plan. Obtaining one from a licensed land surveyor and may take from 1 to 6 weeks to obtain.  See our earlier article: Why do I need a plot plan?

Your property may also contain wetlands areas that would then require approval from the town conservation commission.   The Board of Health in your town will also want to know the number of bedrooms and rooms in the house so that they can make sure that you septic/waste systems can support the additional space. If you have a septic system, they will want to see the copy of the septic plan or a Title V certificate. 

Also, when your contractor applies for your building permit the town requires them to check with many of the various other town departments (Clerks office, Tax Collector) to make sure that the homeowner is not behind or missing any payments for taxes or services.  If there are back taxes due the town may not release a permit for any work on your home.

While it may seem like a nuisance for the town to force you to conform with these requirements they are mostly in place for the protection of your property and property values.  One town official once told us that these rules and regulations are in place, because at some point, someone did somethings that caused an issue that made them change the requirements.

Part of the process in developing your remodel project is us helping guide you through the process of gathering the information you might need to obtain a permit.

If you have questions about your home improvement project or would like more information Contact Almar: http://www.almarbuilding.com (781-826-2577) and watch our videos: http://www.youtube.com/almarbuilding

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 Almar Building & Remodeling Co (Hanover Ma). As a third-generation family owned and operated company for over 60 years Almar Building has all the benefits of a small company with the options of a larger company. From Additions, Kitchens, Bathroom, Basement Renovations, Siding, Windows, to Doors Almar services the entire South Shore of Massachusetts including: Hanover, Hingham, Pembroke, Norwell, Scituate, Cohasset, Duxbury, Hanson, Abington, Rockland, Holbrook, Braintree, Weymouth, Milton, and many more towns. Why do I have to tell the town what I am doing?