FAQs


Police Department

Council On Aging

Treasurer / Collector

Council On Aging
Building Department
When is a building permit required?
The Massachusetts State Building Code 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, antennas, and sheds. The only exception is an ordinary repair. An ordinary repair does not require a building permit.

Paving projects do not require a building permit but will require a permit from the Highway Department if work is being done within the public right-of-way. There are also zoning restrictions on the amount and location of paving, so check first with the Highway Department.
Can I begin work once I submit my application?
No. Work cannot proceed until the permit has been issued, paid for, received, and posted on the site.
What is an ordinary repair?
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 floor boards can be replaced on a deck, but the deck can not be rebuilt without a permit. Also, damaged roof shingles can be repaired, but the entire roof can not be re-shingled without a permit. If in doubt as to how much work can be done under ordinary repairs, contact the Building Department before the start of work.
Do I need a certified plot plan?
Any proposal to construct a new building, structure, accessory structure (shed, swimming pools, fences, etc), or alter the footprint of any existing building or structure requires a certified plot plan be submitted with your Building Permit application.
I have a mortgage plan that was given to me by the bank when I purchased my home. Can this be used as a plot plan?
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 can only be used if the project is far in excess of the required setbacks (generally, at least 15 feet in excess of the required setback). If the plan shows that your project will be close to the required setbacks, a more accurate plan will be required.
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.
How does Building Department know if the structure was placed in the location proposed?
For all new houses and for additions which are close to the required setbacks a certified "as-built" plot plan must be submitted to Inspectional Services after completion of the foundation. Framing can not proceed until the plot plan has been submitted.
How will I receive a Building Permit?
You will receive a phone call from the building department when the permit is ready to be picked up.
Can I do the construction myself or do I have to be licensed?
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 contracts with 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 4 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 a homeowner apply for any plumbing or gas permits?
No, any work associated with plumbing or gas fitting must be preformed by individuals licensed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
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.
How much notice does the inspector need when I am ready for an inspection?
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".
How do I set up an inspection?
Call the Building Department with the address, type of inspection, and a daytime phone number.  We only take inspections from Plumbers, Gasfitters, Electricians and Contractors or the person listed on the permit.  If a homeowner has taken out their own electrical or building permits, we will take their inspections.  If a contractor has taken out the building permit, we will only take the inspections from them.
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.
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.  Please protect the permit from weather.
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.
Does a building permit expire?
Any building permit issued shall be deemed abandoned and invalid unless the work authorized by it shall be commenced within six (6) months of the date of issuance.  The building official, upon written request, may issue extensions. Work under such a permit, in the opinion of the building official, must proceed in good faith continuously to completion so far as reasonably practicable under the circumstances. For more information see 780 CMR Expiration of Permit.
Do I need a permit for a swimming pool?
Yes. The State Building Code 780 CMR  defines a swimming pool as any pool with a depth greater than 24”.
Are there setback requirements?
Yes. A swimming pool must be set back a minimum of 10 feet to the structure of the pool.
What are the height requirements for fences around pools?
Requirements are a minimum of 4' high fencing with self-closing, self-latching gate.  Openings in the fencing shall not allow passage of a 4" diameter sphere.  All doors with direct access to the pool from the dwelling, if used as part of the pool enclosure, must be equipped with an audible alarm refer to State Building Code 780CMR.
Can I have an inspector from the Inspectional Services Office do a home inspection for me?
No.  Homeowners should contact a registered home inspector for such services.  They can find a list from the local yellow pages.
How do I know what kind of license is required on a job?
The State Board of Building Regulations and Standards have a table of activities requiring (or not requiring) either a construction supervisor license (CSL) and/or a Home Improvement Contractor Registration (HIC) and building permit.
Fire Department
Why do I have to install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms?

In November of 2005 “Nicole’s Law” was signed into law; this law places certain requirements on owners of all residential properties to install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms.

Carbon monoxide, known as the Invisible Killer, is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that is produced as a result of the incomplete burning of fuels such as natural gas, propane, heating oil, wood, coal and gasoline.  Each year many people die from accidental CO poisoning and thousands more are injured.  This law was passed to protect all of us from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

How do I know if I have carbon monoxide poisoning?
The first symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to that of the flu and as a result are often overlooked.  They include:

  1. Headache
  2. Fatigue
  3. Shortness of breath
  4. Nausea
  5. Dizziness
If you think you have symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning or your CO alarm is sounding, contact the Fire Department and leave the building immediately.
Who is impacted by this law?
  • All residential buildings.
  • Transient residential buildings such as hotels and motels.
  • Institutional buildings such as hospitals, nursing homes, rest homes, jails.
  • Group day care, preschool and after school centers.
What do we have to do?
Install CO alarms on every level of your home except basements and attics that do not have habitable living spaces by March 31, 2006.
What kinds of CO alarms are allowed?
There are several types of alarms that are allowed; they include:

  • Battery powered with batter monitoring.
  • Plug-in (AC powered) units with battery backup.
  • AC primary power (hard-wired) with battery backup.
  • Qualified combination smoke detectors and CO alarms.
Where do I have to put these CO alarms?
In most residences, carbon monoxide alarms are required to be located on every level of the home or dwelling unit including habitable portions of basements and attics.  On levels with sleeping areas the alarms must be placed within ten feet of the bedroom doors.  Carbon monoxide alarms should not be placed in garages.
How to I meet the requirements of the law?
If you install CO alarms on every habitable level by March 31, 2006 and keep them in good working order you don’t have to do anything else to be in compliance with the law.  When you sell your home, you must have an inspection and certificate from the local fire department that the CO alarms meet the code requirements before the sale is final.

For more information about the requirements of the law please contact the Fire Department at (508) 869-2342 or visit the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services website at:  www.mass.gov/dfs.
Historical Commission
When are your meetings held?
The Historical Commission meets on the Third Thursdayof each month at 6 p.m in the Fuller Library at the Historic Town Hall, 7 Central Street