Home Design and Construction RI-MA: dealing with the local building department

home design and construction ri ma
home design and construction ri ma

Author: Ed Beauchemin

When it comes to Home Design and Construction always check with the local building department when in doubt.

Home design and construction Ri Ma: when permits are required

Building permits are required for construction, alteration and other work not considered to be ordinary  repairs. Ordinary repairs are non-structural, and do not include the addition, replacement or major alteration of plumbing, electrical or mechanical components.

Alterations and additions to existing structures (which requires a building permit) must conform to the current building codes without requiring the entire structure to comply (there may be exceptions, always check with the local building official).
Fees for permits are set by local jurisdictions. Permits are generally good for six months from the date of issuance. Extensions can be granted by the issuing authority. Remember; permits must be kept on site, in a visible location, till the project completion.

Home design and construction: When building plans required

When plans are required, they must be drawn to scale. Plans must show with clarity, the nature of the work to be performed. Plans must also show compliance with all applicable building codes and regulations. For simpler projects, such as a deck, storage shed or other structures, sketches drawn by hand which are reasonably accurate may suffice. For more complicated projects consider enlisting the help of a good designer such as the staff at Energy Geeks.

Site plan required

In most cases, site plans produced by a registered engineer must accompany building plans. Site plans shall show the size and location of new buildings and any existing buildings, distance from lot lines and the location of utilities (sewer, water, gas etc.…). Jurisdictions may require additional information, check with the local building or engineering department. Additionally a land survey may be required.

When permits are not required

Below is a list of common items that usually do not require the issuance of a building permit:

  • Single story detached buildings or structures not more than sixty four square feet (tool sheds and similar structures). A permit for this may be required for zoning purposes when locating close to a boundary line.
  • A live fence made of shrubbery. (see design tip below)
  • Retaining walls thirty two inches or less in height. Check with the local building official, there are exceptions to this rule.
  • Carpeting, tile, painting, wall papering or any similar interior cosmetic work.
  • Playground equipment and any play structures less than sixty four square feet. A permit for this may be required for zoning purposes when locating close to a boundary line.
  • Awnings for windows that are supported by the exterior walls.
  • Window sashes only (the moveable parts). If the entire window including the frame are to be replaced, than a permit is required.
  • Lamps, electrical receptacles, devices and fixtures.
  • Any minor part of gas equipment as long as it does not alter or make the gas appliance unsafe.
  • Appliances used for portable heating.
  • Portable cooling units (i.e. Air conditioners).
  • Any minor part of heating equipment as long as it does not alter or make the equipment unsafe.
  • Stopping leaks in plumbing pipes (water, sewer, vent etc.…). If it is necessary to replace the aforementioned pipes than a permit shall be required.
  • Repairing leaks in valves and fixtures and the replacement of toilets. When valves and fixtures must be replaced or rearranged than a permit is required.

Remember: When it comes to home design and construction, always check with the local building department when in doubt.

Energy Geeks post signatureDesign Tip: Instead of a manmade fence which may be subject to local zoning laws, why not use conical shaped shrubs (live fence). Depending on their size and placement shrubs such as arborviates create instant privacy. Most shrubs require little maintenance other than occasional pruning, can be planted directly on your property line and are not subject to local zoning laws.

Energy geeks is a Home Performance Contractor whose primary focus is sustainability and efficiency as it pertains to energy use, water consumption, indoor air quality, land use and building design.

We can be reached at 401-766-1540 or www.energygeeksinc.com