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Town of Norfolk Massachusetts
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Frequently Asked Questions
As a property owner or business owner you have invested a great deal in your home or business. You should take the time investigate your investment before and not after your purchase. Problems can be avoided if you do your homework. Please feel free to contact the Building Department with any questions that are not addressed on our website. Property files are available for review during Town Hall office hours. Below we have tried to address some of the basic questions we receive.

DIG SAFE  1-888-344-7233
Calling DigSafe is an important step in the building permit process. You or your contractor must notify Dig Safe before any excavation.You will obtain an authorization number that MUST appear on your building permit application in the space provided.

1. Permits required R105.1
It is unlawful to construct,reconstruct,alter,repair, remove or demolish a detached one-and-two-family dwelling or to install or alter any equipment for which a provision is made or the installation of which is regulated by 780 CMR the Massachusetts State Building Code without first filing a written application with the building official and obtaining the required building permit and all other required permits, therefore building permits are required for most projects i.e. decks, deck flooring replacement, additions,sheds, roofing/siding/windows, door replacement, demolition, plumbing, electrical, gas, and of course New Construction. Please check with the building department if you have any questions regarding your particular project. Exemptions: a building permit is not required for the following activities. Such exemption, however, shall not exempt the activity from any review or permit that may be required pursuant to other laws,bylaws,rules and regulations of other jurisdictions(e.g.,  zoning,conservation,etc.) One story detached accessory building used as tool or storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 200 square feet. Sheds over 200 sq.ft. (10’x20’) require a building permit (see permit procedures). A shed over 400 sq. ft that requires a permit must be on footings at least 4’ below grade. Zoning requires it to be at least the same distance from grade level to the height of the roof from the side and rear lot lines and 50’ set back from the front lot line. Sheds under 200 sq.ft. do not require a building permit but must meet the above zoning setback requirements.Fences 6’ and under do not require a permit. It may be installed on the lot line and the flat side may face either direction. Fences over 6’ require a permit and may be installed on the lot line and must meet State Building Code requirements for construction.Retaining walls that, in the opinion of the building official, are not a threat to the public safety, health or welfare and which retain less than four feet of unbalanced fill. Ordinary repairs that do not include the cutting away of any wall,partition or portion thereof, the removal or cutting of any structural beam, column or other load-bearing support, or the removal or change of any required means of egress, or rearrangement of parts of a structure affecting the egress requirements: nor shall ordinary repairs include addition to alteration of, replacement or relocation of any standpipe, water supply, mechanical system, fire protection system, energy conservation system or other work affecting public health or general safety. Greenhouses: A building permit or notice to the building official is not required for the construction of 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. Painting, papering,tiling, carpeting, countertops and similar finish work. Swings and other playground equipment accessory to a one-or-two-family dwelling. Window awnings nine square feet or less in area supported by an exterior wall.

HOT TUBS:  A building permit is required for the installation of a Hot Tub per Massachusetts State Building Code 780 CMR 120.M102.1." Any structure intended for swimming or bathing that contains water over 24 inches deep. This includes in-ground, aboveground and on-ground swimming pools, hot tubs and spas."

Is a permit required for the construction of a DECK?
All decks require a building permit (see permit procedures). All attached decks must be on
footings at least 4’ below grade. Decks over 30" from grade level require guard
rails at a minimum height of 36”and spacing of balusters to less than 4”. Stairs
require handrails with spacing of less than 4” between balusters and the height of
30”-38” for railings against a wall and 34”-38” for railings not against a wall.
Zoning requires that all decks be at least 25 ft. from the side and rear lot line and 50
ft. from the front lot line.

How long does it take to get a building permit?
The building official shall examine all applications within 30 days after filing as
stated in 780 CMR section 111.1. If satisfied that all proposed work conforms to
the requirements of the State Building Code, all laws and ordinances the building
official shall issue a permit.

How long is a building permit good?
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, and upon written request of the owner, one or more extensions
of time, for periods not exceeding 6 months each, may be granted in writing
by the building commissioner as stated in 780 CMR section 111.8.

Enclosures For Animals:
No fence or other STRUCTURE enclosing animals, except house pets, shall be within 100 feet of a DWELLING on an adjoining property. ( Zoning Bylaw F.5.b )

Norfolk Town Hall, One Liberty Lane, Norfolk MA 02056  Phone: 508-528-1408
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