Put Down That Hammer and Pickup a Building Permit First

Are you considering undertaking some renovations, adding a roof deck or converting a multifamily house to condominiums here in the city of Boston? If so, have you obtained a permit for the work that you plan to do? Many people don’t think about pulling a building permit for minor work in the home, but you should take the time to figure out if the work you want to do requires a permit before going ahead and doing it or risk facing some potentially heavy consequences.

For example, if you are hoping to add a deck or a roof deck to your house or unit, you may be “as of right”, whereas you meet all the current zoning and building code guidelines, but even if you do, you still need to pull a permit. If you do not meet the current guidelines then you face a slightly more daunting task. If the work you plan to do does not fall under the current zoning or building code, then you will need to go for a zoning variance. This is the process whereby you go in front of the zoning board to ask for relief for from the current code for whatever reason you deem reasonable. This can be straightforward for quite involved, including neighborhood community meetings, zoning review, etc. in some cases. Roof decks in particular have become a hot topic around the city these days as many long time residents and neighbors have spent too many nights listening to music and loud talking or parties on a nearby roof deck. Because of complaints, the city is taking a close look at who is allowed to get a building permit for a new roof deck.

For more information on how to obtain a building permit, visit the City of Boston’s Inspectional Services Department website here at http://www.cityofboston.gov/isd/building/boa/bldgdefault.asp

In addition, the Boston Inspectional Services Department provides a clinic for homeowners and small businesses that have questions about the zoning approval process. The clinic takes place every Tuesday from 9:00 a.m.-12 noon at Plans and Zoning, Counter Two, Boston Inspectional Services, 1010 Massachusetts Avenue, fifth floor. No appointments are required for the clinics held at Boston Inspectional Services, 1010 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston.

Residential issues included in the Zoning Clinic include: additions, change of occupancy from one- to a two- or three-family maximum, exterior decks, roof decks, porches, swimming pools, extension of floor area to basements and attics, fences, off-street parking, accessory structures as garages, sheds, patios, and sun-rooms.

If I can help you out or point you in the right direction on your additions or renovations in the City of Boston, give me a call at (617) 780-8139 or shoot me an email at jim@condodomain.com.

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