Building permits: When and why you need them

Sat, 05/06/2023 - 8:00am

As the weather slowly warms up, thoughts of spring cleaning may be accompanied by renovation plans. However, most residential construction requires a building permit and a fee paid to the town: A local check showed construction-related permit fees are based on the number of square feet being created or remodeled, while projects too small to be evaluated by square footage may require paying a standardized minimum fee for administrative costs; permits are not usually required for maintenance work, such as siding, roofing, or painting, but local ordinances can vary.

“I encourage each person to contact my office regardless of their project so that we can talk about what they want to do, and discuss any additional requirements that may be in place,” said Boothbay Harbor Code Enforcement Officer Geoff Smith.

Smith advised submitting the application no less than two weeks before one plans to begin their project, as the Land Use Code requires all building permits to be advertised for seven days in the newspaper before they are issued; if the application meets all the ordinance requirements, approval takes about two weeks.

Why do people need a permit to work on their properties? Smith said the process comes down to ensuring personal and public safety. 

“The townspeople created the first set of codes over 100 years ago, to establish a set of guidelines and rules that everyone would adhere to for a variety of reasons, such as building and fire safety or the enjoyment of their property. Today, that code has grown, but the goals have not changed.”