Do I Need a Permit for Basement Finishing?

The short answer is yes, but there are many things to consider in between.

There are many reasons why you would want to finish your basement. Maybe your family is growing and you need a play area for the kids, or perhaps your teens are getting older and they need their own living area. Maybe you just want more usable space for relaxing and entertaining. Whatever the case, basement finishing in Boston is always a good idea.

Not only does it increase your usable square footage, it increases your property value and enjoyment of the entire home. But before you tackle such a project, you have to think about proper protocols that must be dealt with before proceeding. This includes pulling permits for the job.

In general, if you hire a contractor to finish your basement (highly recommended), then the contractor will take the necessary steps to secure a permit.

What is a Building Permit?

A building permit is applied for and granted by the town in which you reside. Such permits are in place to ensure that work is completed safely and correctly. In Massachusetts and many other states, it’s illegal to complete work without filing an application with the building official and then obtaining that required permit. There are some projects that are exempt from this requirement, such as minor finishing work (painting, carpeting, installing countertops), fences, retaining walls and backyard play structures.

A permit is required when you plan to construct, re-construct, repair, alter, remove or demolish a structure or building, to change the use of said structure, or to install or change any equipment. You have to apply for the permit and receive it before any work is done.

How the Process Works

Failing to secure the necessary permits for your basement project could end up costing you a lot more headache and money down the line. Permits assure the town that the work was done in compliance with current building codes.

Let’s say you decide to do a DIY job and you make sure all work done is up to current code without pulling a permit. If, years down the line, that code changes, you could be found in violation. When you take the extra step to secure a permit, you’re protected against future code changes, which is critical if and when you decide to sell your home later on. Getting a basement permit after the fact is very expensive, and may involve redoing work and tearing out walls.

To apply for a permit, you will need:

  • A drawing of the design (to scale) that includes:
    • Room descriptions and labels, height of ceiling
    • Smoke detector locations
    • Electrical, HVAC and plumbing locations
  • The permit application and fee (found on your city’s website – typically about $1 per square foot)

After you have obtained the permit and construction starts, inspections will need to take place at regular intervals, such as during these stages:

  • Framing
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing

The inspector signs off on each phase once completed, giving you permission to move onto the next step. When all work is done, a final inspection will take place and you will receive a signed-off permit.

The building permit process doesn’t have to be daunting. It’s an easy way to ensure the work is being done correctly and safely. The best way to alleviate concerns about being compliant with codes is to hire a professional basement finishing contractor. He or she can pull the permit for you and coordinate all inspections. Don’t consider working with a contractor that doesn’t pull permits or that isn’t licensed in your area.

Contact AD Construction in Greater Boston

Our Boston contractors are well-versed in pulling permits for basement finish jobs. We handle these projects all the time, and would be happy to speak with you more about it. Contact us today at 877-345-BUILD.


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