What is the process for obtaining a Boston construction permit?

Understanding how to obtain the appropriate construction permit in Boston may help developers or homeowners avoid issues or work stoppages down the road.

Construction activity is booming across the state of Massachusetts in recent years. In fact, the Boston Planning and Development Agency reports there were 3.8 million man-hours worked on Article 80 development projects throughout the city in 2017 alone. Whether professional developers and contractors or private homeowner, however, people must obtain a permit before they are able to begin a construction project in the city of Boston. Understanding the process of getting a permit may be essential for helping people obtain approvals for their projects.

Application and intake

The first step in obtaining a construction permit in the city of Boston is to file an application. People may initiate this process online. Then, they are required to visit the Building Division in person for an intake. At that time, they must provide details about the work they are planning to do and the amount of space their projects will use or change. Additionally, people are required to provide an estimate for their projects' total costs, as well as a complete set of plans. The plans must be stamped by a licensed professional.

Zoning and building reviews

After their initial intake is completed, the division will schedule an in-person zoning review and an in-person building review. At this time, their projects will be reviewed to ensure compliance with the city's zoning and building ordinances.

For the zoning review, people are required to submit two copies of plot plans depicting their structures and parking areas, stamped elevation plans, and stamped floor plans showing all rooms and exit areas. At their building reviews, people must provide two copies of their fire alarm system plans; structural and sprinkler plans; electrical, HVAC, energy and plumbing plans; compliance plans from the state's Architectural Access Board; and plans with the Boston Water and Sewer Commission. They must also submit two copies of the current licenses of any contractors working on the project and a signed agreement between them that shows the total amount of work and costs, as well as approval stamps from the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

Working with a legal representative

Starting a new construction project in Massachusetts, whether commercial or residential, can be an exciting time for those working on the development and those who will benefit from it. However, projects may easily be thwarted or face significant issues after completion if they are not in compliance with the city and state's requirements. Therefore, those who are considering starting a new project may benefit from consulting with an attorney. A legal representative may explain what is expected of them at each stage, as well as guide them through the process.