A building permit will probably be required if you plan to do the following:
1. Alter or change the external appearance of your house. For example if you: add a porch; add a screen in a porch; add or remove a window or door, or if you build a fence or wall.
2. Do any electrical work.
3. Do any plumbing work.
4. Add or remove any structural element.
5. Build an addition to your house.
6. Erect a separate building on your property.
Applying for a building permit
To obtain a building permit, a set of plans showing your proposed alterations must be submitted to the local Building Department where they will be checked for compliance with the National and local Building Code. If the plans are up to code a permit will be issued, usually for a small fee.
The permit will be valid for one year after which time a new application must be made if the work has not started. The permit must be displayed prominently at various stages of the construction work you may be required to call in the local building inspector to check the work for compliance, for instance, before and after any footings have been made.
This checking procedure ensures that the work is indeed being carried out according to the approved plans and that the method of construction and the quality of the materials is up to the standard set out in the Building Code. Although this procedure may not be necessary on your particular job, however, the Building Inspector may call by at any time to check on the progress of the work.
Always be sure to complete the job according to the approved plans. If you are in any doubt, call the building inspector and ask his advice, never try to guess. This could be a waste of your time and money as any work not covered by the approved plans or not up to the standards of the code may be condemned at any stage of the building.
If your plans are rejected by the building department for non-compliance you will receive a notification of the reasons given. In some cases this may be simply dealt with by getting your building contractor to amend the plans making sure all the changes are incorporated before re-submitting them.
In other cases the layout of your property may make it impossible to comply with the requirements of the code. In this case you may seek an exception to the law by filing an application with the Zoning Board of Review. When filing for an exemption, evidence supporting your position must be presented with your application, together with a block plan showing all lots within a specified distance including all buildings and marked with owners’ names and addresses.
A plan of your lot showing the existing structures, and plans and elevations of the proposed work must also be submitted. A decision will be made after a public meeting of the Board during which any member of the public may speak for or against the project.