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Construction Not Requiring A Permit

I have been asked a number of times:

“What doesn’t need a permit?”

That is a very good question.  Usually, in Building Inspector World, we tend to think in terms of what DOES require a permit.  Yet there are a number of things that don’t.

The 2006 Residential Building Code says:

One story structures such as sheds, playhouses, etc. that do not exceed 120 square feet in floor space.

Fences not over 6 feet high. Standard installation practice is just to your side of the lot line and good side towards your neighbor.

Retaining walls less than 4 feet tall, measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall.

Painting, papering, tiling, carpet, cabinets, countertops and similar finish work.

Prefabricated swimming pools less than 2 feet deep.

Swings and other playground equipment.

Window awnings that extend less than 54 inches from an exterior wall, and do not require additional support (Posts/Braces).

The Building Inspector says:

General repair and maintenance of your home. (Not a business)

This includes:
Minor plumbing repairs, replacing leaky traps, faucets, etc.

Minor electrical repairs, replacement of faulty light fixtures, switches, outlets.


New siding.

Replacement windows, as long as there are no structural alterations. (enlarging/reducing openings)

Reroofing.  This means reshingling, to include stripping of old shingles, or installing a metal roof over existing shingles or sheathing. Minor sheathing repairs are expected and allowed.

Temporary carports, as long as you do not install a permanent (buried, such as wood posts/concrete piers/footings) foundation.

General landscaping projects, walks, arbors, etc. Please do not create a situation where runoff water will be diverted into the road or onto your neighbor’s property.

Words of wisdom/caution…

Alteration, repair, or replacement of structural items, such as rafters, joists, beams, studs, sills or foundation members, normally requires a permit.

Buildings such as pole barns, agricultural shelters, or one to protect your hobby sawmill, do require permits if they exceed the square footage mentioned earlier.

While NH State law does allow homeowners to perform their own electrical, plumbing and mechanical work, permits and inspections to ensure compliance with appropriate codes are still required.  I strongly recommend consulting a trade professional or the Building Inspector if you are at all unsure of the proper way to do the work.

The installation of a permanent standby electrical generator does require permits and inspections for electrical and fuel source.  

Now let’s talk about driveways……..

Although the 2006 Residential Building Code says that driveways and sidewalks do not require a permit, in Chichester, if you are creating an access to a town road, a driveway permit is required from the Road Agent. This includes adding another access to a lot with a home already on it, and new accesses to fields or woodlots.  

If you are going to resurface or alter your existing drive, it is important to contact the Road Agent so he can work with you or your contractor to ensure the proper sloping to the road is maintained.

Lots fronting on State roads will require permits from NH Department of Transportation (DOT).

In closing……

The mission of the Office of the Building Inspector is to educate, assist and ensure the safety of the people of the Town of Chichester.  
While there are those who feel there is no need for Building Codes, they help to ensure that Structures are built to be as safe as possible, and the work done inside them is done properly and by trained, licensed tradesman wherever required.  

I am always willing to take the time to answer questions, or to discuss a project.  I have found that quite often a visit to the site of your project is tremendously helpful.

Chichester Town Offices  54 Main Street, Chichester, NH 03258        Website Disclaimer        Privacy Statement