What Every Homeowner Needs to Know

What to Know Before it Becomes a Headache & Useful Information

Every homeowner, whether you live in Southborough or in any city or town, needs to know a few basic things about permits, hiring a contractor, or pulling a building permit as a homeowner.

As a Homeowner Acting as Your Own Contractor

If you read nothing else on this page, read this.

If you choose to pull your own Building Permit, you need to know the risks and responsibilities involved in acting as your own Contractor. If you pull a Building Permit for a job that includes electrical, plumbing, or gas work, you are responsible for making sure that your subcontractors (electrician, plumber) have pulled their respective permits and get their respective inspections. If you do not know the inspection requirements of your subs and when they are supposed to occur, seriously reconsider pulling your own Building Permit.

If you are not familiar with the Building permit process, Massachusetts Building Codes, and the Town of Southborough bylaws as they pertain to your project, please seriously reconsider pulling a Building Permit as a homeowner.

It is not the responsibility of the building department to notify you of your responsibilities of acting as your own contractor. By pulling your own permit, you have agreed that you understand the risks and responsibilities.

Open permits on your property, regardless of who pulled the permit(s), are your responsibility.

  • You will be personally responsible for all work on this project.
  • You are responsible to see that all work meets the Massachusetts State Building Code and the town by-laws.
  • You must supervise all work.
  • You must call the Building Department to schedule all required building inspections.
  • You must be present for all building inspections.
  • You have waived all rights to the Massachusetts Guaranty Fund.
  • You are the General Contractor of the project and a court of law will view you as such if you are sued, or if you should have the need to sue another party.
  • Your subcontractors may place a lien on your property.
  • Any worker injured on your project may sue you if you or the company they work for do not carry Worker's Compensation insurance
  • Failure to carry Worker's Compensation insurance may result in criminal penalties, i.e. fines and/or imprisonment. (Reference MGL c. 152 §25)
  • Permit cards, with applicable plans, must remain on-site for the duration of the project.
  • All electrical, plumbing, and gas work must be completed by licensed professionals who will pull their own respective permits.

Permits & Permit Types

The Southborough Building Department issues the following permit types:

  • Additions
  • Antennae
  • Decks
  • Demolition
  • Doors (exterior)
  • Fences (over 6 feet tall)
  • Foundations
  • Garages
  • Insulation
  • Mechanical Systems (HVAC)
  • New Construction
  • Pools
  • Roofing
  • Sheds
  • Sheetrock / Wallboard
  • Siding
  • Signs
  • Solar PV or Thermal
  • Solid / Pellet Fuel Burning Appliances
  • Stairs
  • Tents
  • Walls, exterior retaining over 4 feet tall
  • Windows

State Building Code Permits Required

  • New Building Construction
  • Additions
  • Repair, Renovations
  • Changes in use
  • Demolition of Structures
  • Certificates of Occupancy
  • Alter or install means of egress
  • Plumbing, electrical, and/or gas installations or repairs
  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning installations

Not Requiring a Permit

Carpeting, painting, wallpapering, pools less than 2 feet tall, swing sets, fences 6 feet or shorter

Sequence of Inspections

  1. Excavation Inspection
    This type of inspection is after the excavation for a new building or structure. No concrete may be placed without this inspection being approved.
  2. Foundation Inspection
    A foundation inspection is required after the foundation forms have been properly set, the reinforcing steel has been cleaned and tied in place and the proper anchor bolts are on site.
  3. Footings / Piers Inspection
  4. Framing (or Rough) Inspection
    A framing/rough inspection after the plumbing, mechanical, and electrical rough inspections have been completed, approved and signed off on the permit card. No mechanical, electrical, plumbing, or framing systems may be concealed before the inspection is completed and approved by the Building Inspector.
  5. Insulation Inspection
    An insulation inspection is required and must conform to the energy codes.
  6. Final Inspection
    A final building inspection must be made after all required inspections have been completed and approved, including the final electrical, plumbing / gas, mechanical, and fire inspections

Related Documents