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  1. #1

    Default Obtaining Remodeling Permit on the Second Home by Homeowner

    My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: Massachusetts

    I would like to do some interior renovations to a recently purchased house. The house is not my primary residence, but I intend to move into it and make it my primary residence after renovations are completed. Am I allowed to obtain a remodeling permit as a homeowner or am I required to hire a builder with CSL (construction supervisor license) to obtain a permit for me?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    1,960

    Default Re: Obtaining Remodeling Permit on the Second Home by Homeowner

    Laws relating to building permits are typically handled at the local level, so you should identify the locality where the home is located.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Obtaining Remodeling Permit on the Second Home by Homeowner

    Both houses, the one I currently live in and the one I want to renovate are in Falmouth, MA, Barnstable County.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    17,476

    Default Re: Obtaining Remodeling Permit on the Second Home by Homeowner

    The best place to get the answer to that question is at the city building department. Should only take a phone call.

    Or check out the following sources for Falmouth building permits.

    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=falmouth+m...&t=ffab&ia=web

  5. #5

    Default Re: Obtaining Remodeling Permit on the Second Home by Homeowner

    The answer I got "over the counter" from the city building department was that I could not pull any permits without hiring a builder with CSL. I also posted this question here after I searched online for applicable regulation, but could not find the answer. I could not find any regulation in Massachusetts, or specifically in Falmouth or other towns, that prohibits pulling permits by an owner of a second home. Also, the definition of the "owner" in the building code does not seem to exclude the second home or apply just to the primary residence. In Falmouth, there is a long list of work requiring a permit (http://www.falmouthmass.us/DocumentC...ing-Permit-PDF), and the answer from the building department was that essentially I cannot do anything in the house unless I hire a building company with CSL.

    For instance, I want to replace kitchen cabinets and countertops. Am I not allowed to buy cabinets at ikea and do it myself with help from a couple of friends, professional carpenters? Of course, I don't want to live in it and claim it my primary residence while the kitchen is being rebuilt.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Default Re: Obtaining Remodeling Permit on the Second Home by Homeowner

    Quote Quoting ilya980
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    The answer I got "over the counter" from the city building department was that I could not pull any permits without hiring a builder with CSL.
    Well, you might have said that at the getgo. My guess is that you were told that for the same reason that court clerks tell people they have to have a lawyer when they start asking questions about litigation.

    Quote Quoting ilya980
    View Post
    I searched online for applicable regulation, but could not find the answer. I could not find any regulation in Massachusetts, or specifically in Falmouth or other towns, that prohibits pulling permits by an owner of a second home. Also, the definition of the "owner" in the building code does not seem to exclude the second home or apply just to the primary residence. In Falmouth, there is a long list of work requiring a permit (http://www.falmouthmass.us/DocumentC...ing-Permit-PDF), and the answer from the building department was that essentially I cannot do anything in the house unless I hire a building company with CSL.
    I'm not sure that's entirely true. Did you not find this page with permit packages:

    http://www.falmouthmass.us/Search?se...rmit%20package

    There seems to be exceptions. You'll have to study up.

    Quote Quoting ilya980
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    the answer from the building department was that essentially I cannot do anything in the house unless I hire a building company with CSL.
    Or a registered Home Improvement Contractor.

    Apparently, your city is a lot more strict than mine is. Phoenix also has a long list of work that requires permits. But as long as I get the permit and do the work to code, I can use anybody I want to do the work.

    Quote Quoting ilya980
    View Post

    For instance, I want to replace kitchen cabinets and countertops. Am I not allowed to buy cabinets at ikea and do it myself with help from a couple of friends, professional carpenters? Of course, I don't want to live in it and claim it my primary residence while the kitchen is being rebuilt.
    Not according to what I've read in those packets.

    However, there is nothing stopping you from ignoring the regulations, buying your cabinets and installing them with your friends. Just understand that you risk the hassle of fines, fees, inspections, and maybe do-overs if you get caught. Though the risk might be minimal for something you do inside the house.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Obtaining Remodeling Permit on the Second Home by Homeowner

    I don't care WHY the town answered that way. My question is whether I am allowed to pull permits on my second home, which is not my primary residence. And I can't find a regulation that answers this question.
    No, I did not ask them any questions. I brought in completed package for the permit, they asked me if this is my primary residence, I said "no", and they refused to accept the package saying I need someone with CSL to sign, because the house currently is not my primary residence.

    I searched more online. The city of Boston, for instance, does not seem to have this restriction (https://www.cityofboston.gov/Images_...cm3-34210.pdf) because to qualify for the homeowner exemption the "intent to reside" seems to be sufficient, which is my case.

    Other towns, for example this https://www.sherbornma.org/sites/she...ploads/csl.pdf are governed by 780 CMR 110.R5.1.2-3. I think the exemption applies to people who "intend to reside" in the house they are trying to fix. Has Falmouth created another restriction on top of 780 CMR 110.R5.1.2-3? I can't find an answer to this question...

    Yes, this is the package. The only thing that I found in that package relating to the issue is a checklist item #3 on page 3 - homeowner license exemption form - for primary residence only. But that is just a checklist page. I would like to see the regulation or bylaw, just like 780 CMR 110.R5.1.2-3, that governs the issue.

    "...Or a registered Home Improvement Contractor."

    True, but even for the kitchen example CSL would be required according to the list I posted, because replacing cabinets and countertops is more than an "ordinary repair".

    "...Apparently, your city is a lot more strict than mine is. Phoenix also has a long list of work that requires permits. But as long as I get the permit and do the work to code, I can use anybody I want to do the work. ""...

    That is probably true. Everyone I know complains about it in my town.



    "...Not according to what I've read in those packets."

    That is what many people do, I hear...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    Default Re: Obtaining Remodeling Permit on the Second Home by Homeowner

    Quote Quoting ilya980
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    I brought in completed package for the permit, they asked me if this is my primary residence, I said "no", and they refused to accept the package saying I need someone with CSL to sign, because the house currently is not my primary residence.
    You could take the same package back in and when they ask that question say, "Yes."

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    15,931

    Default Re: Obtaining Remodeling Permit on the Second Home by Homeowner

    What I suggest is that since you intend to move into the home as your primary residence, that you stop calling it your second home. When you go to pull the permit simply state that you have bought a new home and you need to renovate it before you move into it.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Obtaining Remodeling Permit on the Second Home by Homeowner

    Quote Quoting llworking
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    What I suggest is that since you intend to move into the home as your primary residence, that you stop calling it your second home. When you go to pull the permit simply state that you have bought a new home and you need to renovate it before you move into it.
    I tried and it did not work. The building department employee said that since I don't physically currently live there it is not my primary residence and the exemption applies only to primary residence (which, I think, contradicts 780 CMR 110.R5.1.3.1). Since the house I currently live in is in the same town, they have a record of another house being my primary residence (there are tick marks in the building department as well as tax assessor and collector's offices). Of course, everyone understands that I want to fix things first and then move in, rather than move in and then start to rebuild the kitchen, move walls and refinish the floor. So, my stated intent did not matter to them.

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