Building Codes & Permits in Cambridge, MA

Photo by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash

The Homeowner’s Guide to Building Codes in Cambridge, Massachusetts

The city of Cambridge is well-known throughout the Boston metropolitan area – and the rest of the United States, for that matter – as a highly desirable place to live, work, and do business. Not only is Cambridge a beautiful community in and of itself, it’s conveniently located just over the river from downtown Boston. As a result, it’s become a sort-of cultural epicenter for the general Boston area, one thriving with colleges, arts, museums, and more.

Because of this, it’s no surprise that a large number of Sleeping Dog’s New England-based construction projects take place in the historic, yet hip city of Cambridge. However, before any new construction projects, remodels, or renovations can take place in this bustling Massachusetts city, there are several things that always need to be considered by homeowners of all types – specifically in regards to Cambridge’s unique laws surrounding building permits, codes, and other laws and regulations.

What to Know About Building Permits in Cambridge, Massachusetts

A building permit serves as a formal permission to begin the construction or demolition of a piece of property. It also dictates how other things such as additions, renovations, and remodels have to be conducted. They’re primarily put in place to guarantee the safety of construction teams and those around them by ensuring every aspect of the project is properly protected from dangerous complications like structural failure, fire hazards, faulty heating, air, or electrician work, and countless other possibilities.

Two construction workers looking over a paper featuring housing blueprints while on site

Photo by Shopify Partners from Burst

For the city of Cambridge, Section 110.0 of the Massachusetts State Building Code (780 CMR) states that a building permit is required by anyone seeking to construct, alter, repair, or demolish a structure. Therefore, the building permit must be obtained before the start of any construction work. Furthermore, it must also be prominently posted at the job site throughout the duration of the entire construction project for all to see.

Cambridge building permits are issued by the Inspectional Services Department. The permit application process itself is a strict and complex one that consists of everything from registering for an account with the appropriate permitting software to uploading all required documentation, as well as numerous follow-up checks of the application that was conducted, various in-person appointments with city department teams, and more.

What to Know About Cambridge Building Codes

The ultimate goal of the aforementioned building permits is to ensure that the many building codes set by the city of Cambridge are always met. With that said, it’s once again the responsibility of the Inspectional Services Department to ensure all possible building codes are followed, whether in regards to electrical work, gas, plumbing, or sanitation.

For an overview of the many codes that apply to Cambridge-based construction projects, the Massachusetts State Building Code – 780 CMR contains an extensive unofficial copy of all versions of the Massachusetts State Building Code. A quick glance will reveal that the Massachusetts State Building Code consists of a series of international model codes and state-specific amendments. In addition, these state building codes are regularly updated as new information and technologies become available, making the process of ensuring full compliance with local codes a continuous endeavor.

There are also various electric codes, plumbing codes, and other housing codes which need to be followed. Finally, there are a variety of zoning ordinances unique to the city of Cambridge which must be followed, as well.

Inspection & Follow-Up: Ensuring All Cambridge-Specific Building Codes Are Met

It’s also worth noting that any construction project will require not only a strict adherence to the permit-application process, but also a thorough building inspection follow-up to ensure that regulations are followed.

A close-up of blueprints on a white piece of paper laying down on a table next two a pencil

Photo by Matej from Pexels

This means that outside inspectors visit construction sites as many times as needed to ensure compliance. The duration and regularity of these visits will vary depending upon the type and scope of work being performed.

Even so, this fact alone means that simply applying for a special permit before your project begins isn’t all it takes. You’ll also be visited regularly throughout the duration of your project – and after its conclusion – to ensure the appropriate building codes are met.

Working With General Contractors to Navigate These Building Code Requirements

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to following all the necessary building codes and zoning ordinances in Cambridge. This is why working with licensed general contractors like Sleeping Dog Properties can help alleviate stress by ensuring you’re in full compliance with any key regulations throughout the duration of your project.

Sleeping Dog Properties, Inc. Building Exterior

With 25+ years of experience working on residential construction projects throughout New England, Sleeping Dog Properties is able to offer a full suite of general contracting solutions. From early meeting stages, where we sit down to discuss our clients’ needs, all the way to final inspection and follow-up, our licensed general contractors have the know-how necessary to supervise entire construction projects so all local building codes are followed.

If you’re a Cambridge homeowner wanting to renovate, remodel, or even build from scratch, there’s truly no peace of mind like knowing this complex part of the construction process is in the hands of skilled professionals. Contact us today to learn more about the perks of working with our renowned team of New England-based general contractors.


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