Do I need a Building Permit?

780 CMR: STATE BOARD OF BUILDING REGULATIONS AND STANDARDS (excerpt)

Residential ONLY

780 CMR R105.1 - Required - It shall be unlawful to construct, reconstruct, alter, repair, remove or demolish a building or structure; or to change the use or occupancy of a building or structure; or to install or alter any equipment for which provision is made or the installation of which is regulated by this code without first filing a written application with the building official and obtaining the required permit. A building permit is not required for ordinary repairs.

R105.2 Work Exempt from Permit - Except for activities which may require a permit pursuant to other laws, by-law, zoning by-laws, rules and the specialized codes M.G.L. c. 143, § 96, a building permit is not required for the following activities:

  1. One-story detached accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, but not garages, provided the floor area does not exceed 200 ft2 (18.58m2).   A Zoning Permit may be required.
  2. Fences not over seven feet (2,134 mm) high.
  3. Retaining walls that are not over four feet (1,219 mm) in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge, or that retain over four feet of unbalanced fill.
  4. Water tanks supported directly upon grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons (18,927 L) and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2 to 1.
  5. Sidewalks and driveways.
  6. Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, counter tops and similar finish work.
  7. Prefabricated swimming pools that are less that 24 inches (610 mm) deep.
  8. Swings and other playground equipment.  Refer to 521 CMR for accessibility requirements as applicable.
  9. Window awnings supported by an exterior wall which do not project more than 54 inches        (1,372 mm) from the exterior wall and do not require additional support.
  10. Decks not exceeding 200 ft2 (18.58 m2) in area, that are not more than 30 inches (762 mm) above grade at any point, that are not attached to a dwelling and that do not serve the exit door required by subsection R311.4.  A Zoning Permit may be required.
  11. 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.

R105.2.1 - Emergency Repairs:  Where replacements and repairs governed by 780 CMR must be performed in an emergency situation, the permit application shall be submitted within the next working business day to the building official.

Commercial/Industrial ONLY

780 CMR R105.1 - Required - It shall be unlawful to construct, reconstruct, alter, repair, remove or demolish a building or structure; or to change the use or occupancy of a building or structure; or to install or alter any equipment for which provision is made or the installation of which is regulated by this code without first filing a written application with the building official and obtaining the required permit.

105.2 Work Exempt from Permit -  Except for activities which may require a permit pursuant to other laws, by-law, zoning by-laws, rules and the specialized codes of M.G.L. c.143, § 96, a building permit is not required for the following activities:

  1. One-story detached accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided the floor area is not greater than 120 ft.2 (11 m2).   
  2. Fences not over seven feet (2,134 mm) high.  A Zoning permit may be required.
  3. Oil derricks.
  4. Retaining walls that are not over four feet (1,219 mm) in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge or impounding Class I, II, or IIIA liquids.
  5. Water tanks supported directly on grade if the capacity is not greater than 5,000 gallons (18,925 L) and the ratio of height to diameter or width is not greater than 2:1.
  6. Sidewalks and driveways not more than 30 inches (762 mm) above adjacent grade, and not over any basement or story below and are not part of an accessible route.
  7. Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, counter tops and similar finish work.
  8. Temporary motion picture, television and theater stage sets and scenery.
  9. Prefabricated swimming pools accessory to a Group R-3 occupancy that are less than 24 inches (610 mm) deep, are not greater than 5,000 gallons (18,925 L) and are installed entirely above ground.
  10. Shade cloth structures constructed for nursery or agricultural purposes, not including service systems.
  11. Swings and other playground equipment accessory to detached one- and two- family dwellings.  See also 521 CMR for accessibility requirments as applicable.
  12. Window awnings in Group R-3 and U occupancies, supported by an exterior wall that do not project more than 54 inches (1,372 mm) from the exterior wall and do not require additional support.
  13. Nonfixed and movable fixtures, cases, racks, counters and partitions not over five feet nine inches (1,753 mm) in height.
  14. 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.
  15. Replacement or repair of any component or components of a fire protection system, where such does not affect system performance and compatibility.  No building permit is required for maintenance.  Other permits, however, may be required pursuant to applicable provisions of M.G.L. c. 148, § 27A and of 527 CMR.