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Frequently Asked Questions
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Building Permit Application Procedure:
When is a building permit required?

The Massachusetts State Building Code Section 113.1 states that "it shall be unlawful to construct, reconstruct, alter, repair, remove or demolish a 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 obtaining a building permit. This includes, but is not limited to, new structures, additions, dormers, chimneys, woodstoves, decks, roofing, siding, swimming pools, antennae, and sheds. The only exception is an ordinary repair. An ordinary repair does not require a building permit. If you are not sure, call the Building Department at 978-777-2850
What is an ordinary repair?
Section 201 of the State Building Code defines ordinary repairs as "any maintenance, which does not affect structure, egress, fire protection systems, fire ratings, energy conservation provisions, plumbing, sanitary, gas, electrical, or other utilities. This has been interpreted to mean that rotted floorboards can be replaced on a deck, but the deck cannot be rebuilt without a permit. Also, damaged roof shingles can be repaired, but the entire roof cannot be re-shingled without a permit. If in doubt as to how much work can be done under ordinary repairs, contact the Inspectional Services Department before the start of work.

What requires a building permit?
Permits are required for including but not limited to the following;                      

Gas stoves (Gas permit)
Pellet and wood stoves
Siding, roofing & windows
Signage and tents
Additions and renovations
Change of use/Change of occupancy
Finished Basements
Demolition or moving of a structure
Swimming pools
Decks, Modular homes
Sheds over 120 SF
Solar Panels
Can I begin work once I submit my application?
No. Work can not proceed until the permit has been issued?
How long does it take to obtain a permit? 
Depending on the complexity of your project, a building permit application can take up to 30 days to be approved. However, most applications will be issued within a week
Were can I get a building permit application?
The Town of Middleton building permit application forms can be obtained at the building department at 195 north main st or on line
Can I do the construction myself or do I have to be licensed?
Section 109.1.1 of the State Building Code states that no structural work shall be done without a construction supervisor's license. A homeowner can do work on his/her own home without a license provided that if the homeowner engages a person for hire to do such work that the homeowner shall act as supervisor
What is a homeowner?
For the purpose of determining when a license is required, a homeowner is defined as a "person(s) who owns a parcel of land on which he/she resides or intends to reside, on which there is, or is intended to be, a dwelling of six or less units, attached or detached structures accessory to such use and/or farm structures. A person who constructs more than one home in a two-year period shall not be considered a homeowner."
Can I do my own electrical and plumbing/gas work?
No. State law requires anyone performing electrical, plumbing or gas work to be licensed.
Plot Plans
Is a plot plan required?
If the work involves a new structure or an addition to an existing structure, a plot plan is required.
I have a mortgage plan that was given to me by the bank when I purchased my home. Can this be used?

The purpose of a plot plan is for determination of compliance with dimensional controls of the Zoning By-Law. A mortgage plan is only a rough approximation of where the house is located, and was prepared only for mortgage purposes. Due to the inaccuracy of these plans, they cannot be used.
Can I prepare my own plot plan, if I am certain where my property line is?
No. Plot plans can only be prepared by a Registered Land Surveyor, and must bear his/her stamp.
If I don't have a plot plan, where can I get one?
Mortgage plans can sometimes be obtained from the bank. Also, Inspectional Services has plans on file for many properties in town. If available, these may be acceptable. Otherwise, you must contact a Registered Land Surveyor to prepare a plan for you.
How does Inspectional Services know if the structure was placed in the location proposed?
For all new houses and for additions and in ground swimming pool, which have required setbacks a certified “as-built” plot, plan must be submitted to Inspectional Services after completion of the foundation or pool installation. Framing or final inspection for pools cannot proceed until the plot plan has been submitted.
Expiration of Permits
When I obtain my permit, how long do I have to start the work?
Section 114.3 of the State Building Code states that "any permit issued shall be deemed abandoned and invalid unless the work authorized by it shall have been commenced within 6 months after its issuance; however, for cause, one or more extensions of time, for periods not exceeding 6 months each, may be granted in writing by the Building Commissioner or Inspector of Buildings." Extensions are normally granted without any trouble. However, if there have been changes to the Zoning By-Law or building code subsequent to the original issuance of the permit, any grandfather status may be lost if work has not begun (i.e., you will have to comply to the new requirements). Any requests for extension must be submitted in writing
When I start construction, is the work inspected?

Yes. It is the responsibility of the permit holder to call Inspectional Services to arrange for the required inspections. Required inspections are indicated on the inspection record card, which you receive when your permit is approved.
Where should this card be kept?
The card must be posted in a location visible from the street and accessible to the inspector. Generally, the best location is inside a front storm door.
Do I need to provide anything else to the inspector?
Yes. If you submitted plans along with your permit application, a copy of these plans, bearing an "approved" stamp was returned to you with the approved building card. This copy must be available for the inspector to review for determination that the work is in compliance with the approved plans.
How much notice does the inspector need when I am ready for an inspection?
Section 111.2 of the State Building Code states that the contractor must give the inspector 24 hours notice prior to the time when the inspection needs to be performed. It further states, " the Building Inspector shall make the inspection within 48 hours after such notification”. Please don’t leave a message on the answering service for an inspection. You or your contractor needs to speak to an inspector or administrative assistant.
Can I call for plumbing and electrical inspections?
No. These calls must be made by the licensed plumber or electrician. The amount of notice required is stated in their respective codes
Does someone have to be home during the inspection?
If access to the new work requires the inspector to walk through your existing, furnished house, someone must be present to let the inspector in. The inspector will not enter an unoccupied furnished house. We also will not enter a house in which only a child is home, unaccompanied by an adult. In these cases, please make arrangements with the inspector for a time to meet. We will try to accommodate your schedule as much as possible. However, the large number of inspections, and the unpredictability of the length of time each inspection may take, makes precise appointments difficult.
Swimming Pools
Do I need a permit for a swimming pool?
Yes. The State Building Code 780 CMR 120.M defines a swimming pool as any pool with an area greater than 250 sq. ft. and a depth greater than 2 ft. If your pool does not meet both of these criteria, then it is not considered a swimming pool and does not need a building permit.
Are there setback requirements?
Yes. A swimming pool must be set back a minimum of 20 feet to the water line.
Is a fence required?
Yes. A fence at least 4 feet high, and gates must be self-closing and self-latching.