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  • Jeremy Horning

Shed Building Permits & Regulations in Boston and Massachusetts and Boston

Updated: Sep 22, 2022

if you live in Massachusetts and want to add certain structures like a shed to your rear yard or the outside space of your home, you will need to get a permit. It’s extremely easy to overlook the requirements for shed building permits and they can be confusing and often misunderstood.


For example, do you need a special permit? Perhaps there are additional permits and regulations you should consider. Maybe you need a construction permit, demolition permit, or foundation permit.


Getting the necessary building permit is essential if you want the work that’s being completed to be correct and safe. If you want to build certain constructions on your land, completing the work without first filing an application would be unlawful and illegal. There are, however, certain constructions that are exempt from building permits.


In this post, you’ll find out what a shed building permit is, whether you need one, how to get a shed permit, exemptions from the regulations, and much more.


What is a Shed Building Permit?


If you want to build any kind of structure on your land, whether it’s in a residential area or farmland, a building permit may be required.


A shed building permit is something that permits you to do construction work on your property. The permit helps you with meeting local codes and ensures the work is done safely. When you apply for your shed building permit, you need to have your shed plans ready.


Do You Need a Building Permit for a Shed in Massachusetts?


According to the Massachusetts State Building Code (9th Edition), Section 105, if the structure you’re building is going to be used as a storage or tool shed, playhouse, or something similar, a building permit is not required, providing the floor area is no more than two hundred (200) square feet.


In addition, the Massachusetts State Building Code (CMR 780) requires any structure over six hundred (600) square feet to have footings.

There will also be zoning requirements you’ll need to comply with, depending on the district in which you live.


For example, in the DN, MSR, GR, and RC Districts, structures of less than 120 square feet and only one story in height must be five feet from the property line.

If the structure is more than 120 square feet, you’ll need to follow rear yard setbacks for the zoning district where the structure is located.


Do I Need a Permit for a Shed in Boston?


Massachusetts State Building Code (780 CMR, Section R105) states that a permit is not needed to build a one-story detached building, such as a shed, provided the floor area is not more than 120 square feet.


However, the state building code does allow individual municipalities to enact stricter codes, so you must check directly with your city or town building department.

For example, there is a new South Boston Zoning Regulation amendment, Article 27S - South Boston Interim Planning Overlay District. You now need a long-form permit application if the structure you want to build is greater than 1,000 square feet.


The application will go before the Zoning Board of Appeal. If the structure is less than one thousand square feet, a notarized statement from the owner or contractor stating the exact square footage is a requirement.

How to Get a Shed Permit in Boston and Massachusetts?


1. Starting the Permit Process


It’s possible to start your current permit application online, via the online permitting system.


2. Gathering the Required Information


Once you've started the current permit application online process, you’ll need to upload the following:

  • If applicable, a nominal fee letter

  • A copy of the agreement between the homeowner and the contractor

  • If you own the property and are doing the work yourself, you’ll need a Homeowner Waiver and proof of Workers’ Compensation.

There are additional documents you’ll need to take to your local Building Office, for example:

  • A description of the work planned and the address

  • Permission from the property owner and their name and address

  • A site plans

  • A floor plan

  • A certified plot plan that includes details of the property lines and location of the building

  • The application must include a signature from a licensed contractor or engineer

3. Hand in Your Application


You must hand your application to your local Building Division Office. If you live in Boston, you must take your documentation and information to the following address:


BUILDING DIVISION, COUNTER 1

1010 MASSACHUSETTS AVE, 5TH FLOOR

BOSTON, MA 02118


How Long Does It Take to Get a Shed Permit in Boston and Massachusetts?


A request for building permits can take up to 28 days to complete. Sometimes, depending on your zoning district you may need to wait up to 2 months.


How Much Does It Cost?


If your shed is two hundred feet or less in size, you only need to complete a zoning application along with your site plan. The flat fee for this is $25.

A special permit for building a shed can cost between $400 and $2,500. The amount you pay depends on numerous factors including the structure itself and the city requirements.


Can You Build a Shed Without Planning Permission?


You can build a shed in Massachusetts without planning permission if it is under two hundred square feet in size. Anything over that size requires a building permit.


How Tall Can a Shed be Without a Permit in Massachusetts?


The maximum height of a general residential shed is twelve(12) feet. In addition, setbacks must be twenty(20) feet from the front property line, ten(10) feet from the side property line, and ten feet from the rear property line. It must also be ten feet from the principal structure.


How Big of a Shed Can You Build Without a Permission?


If your shed is going to be under two hundred(200) square feet in size, there is no need to apply for a permit. Any structure over two hundred square feet requires a building permit.

In addition, the Massachusetts State Building Code (CMR 780) requires that any structure over six hundred(600) square feet require footings.


What Happens if You Build a Shed Without a Permit in Massachusetts?


Building a shed over two hundred square feet in size without a permit can result in the following:

  • Fines

  • Removal of the shed

  • A lien could be placed on your property

  • You may not get full value for a home sale

  • You might not be able to get your shed insured in the event of an accident

Conclusion


It is recommended that you always get the necessary permissions when it comes to building storage sheds on your property.

Work with Urban Sheds and you don’t need to worry because we’ll ensure all the necessary requirements are met. We are one of the most trusted shed builders and contractors in Boston. It will be built by one of our professional and experienced contractors.

You work directly with them, and your shed will be built according to location-specific requirements and your specifications.

Book a consultation online with one of our shed experts now!

FAQs


1. How close to the property line can I build a shed in Massachusetts?

Dimensional setback requirements are that your shed must be twenty(20) feet from the front property line and ten feet from the side and rear property lines.


2. Does a shed increase property tax in Massachusetts?


Whether or not a shed will increase your property tax in Massachusetts comes down to individual state and county decisions. The size of the structure also makes a difference.

The best thing to do if you’re concerned about an increase in your property tax is to call your local tax assessor. They will be able to provide accurate guidance regarding how each of the varying sizes and amenities might affect how much property tax you pay.

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Jeremy Horning has a passion for efficient and smooth running systems. He values beauty and  craftsmanship. When he’s not too busy building business, you’ll find him on the job constructing sheds or resurfacing hardwood decks.

After moving to Medford Ma. in 2014 he was a co-founder of  Alpha Omega Property Services, a handyman business, out of which he started Boston Hardwood Decks and Urban Sheds.

Jeremy started Urban Sheds in 2017 with the vision of connecting local craftsmen and homeowners around great shed designs, sustainable production and straightforward purchasing.​

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