What are the licensing requirements to obtain a permit for projects regulated by the State Building Code?

The short answer to this question is — "That Depends"

(1)  Generally, for buildings containing 35,000 cubic feet of enclosed space or more, not including detached one or two family homes or any accessory buildings thereto, a Massachusetts Registered Design Professional shall provide “Construction Control” oversight.  There are some exceptions to this requirement. See M.G.L c. 112 and MGL, c. 143 s.54.

107.6.1 General. This section shall apply to the construction controls, professional services and contractor services required for buildings and structures needing registered design professional services.

The following structures are exempt from the requirements of this section:

  • Any building containing less than 35,000 cubic feet of enclosed space, measured to the exterior surfaces of walls and roofs and to the top of a ground supported floor, or in the case of a crawl space, to the bottom surface of the crawl space. In the case of basement floors or levels, the calculation of enclosed space shall include such spaces. For additions to existing buildings, the volume of enclosed space shall include the entire existing building and all proposed additions.
  • Any one- or two-family dwelling or any accessory building thereto.
  • Any building used exclusively for agricultural purposes. See Appendix C: Group U - Agricultural Buildings for occupancy and other limitations.
  • Retaining walls less than ten feet in height at all points along the wall as measured from the base of the footing to the top of the wall.
  • Structures where the building official determines that the scope of work is minor in nature and not needing registered design professional services.

Read the full text of Section 107.

(2)  Generally, for buildings less than 35,000 cubic feet of enclosed space and all sizes of detached one or two family homes or any accessory buildings thereto, an individual with a valid Construction Supervisors License issued by the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards is required.

110.R5.1.3.1 Individuals supervising persons engaged in construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, removal or demolition involving any activity regulated by any provision of 780 CMR, shall be licensed in accordance with 780 CMR 110.R5. Individuals engaged in the supervision of the field erection of manufactured buildings in accordance with 780 CMR 110.R3, shall be licensed as construction supervisors.

Home Improvement Contractor, (HIC) registration with the Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation may also be required to obtain a building permit. Read more here: Homeowner's guide to hiring a home improvement contractor.

(3)  An exception to the licensing requirements in number (2) above is that the “owner” of a detached one or two family dwelling or any accessory buildings thereto, who lives or intends to live in the home, is exempt from these licensing requirements.  See “Homeowner” definition below.

  • Exception:  Any homeowner performing work for which a building permit is required shall be exempt from the licensing provisions of 780 CMR 110.R5, provided that if a homeowner engages a person(s) for hire to do such work, then such homeowner shall act as supervisor. This exception shall not apply to the field erection of a manufactured buildings constructed pursuant to 780 CMR 110.R3.
  • Note:  Any licensed construction supervisor who contracts to do work for a homeowner shall be responsible for performing said work in accordance with 780 CMR and manufacture’s recommendations, as applicable, whether or not the licensed contractor secured the permit for said work.
  • Homeowner:  Person(s) who owns a parcel of land on which he or she resides or intends to reside, on which there is, or is intended to be, a one- or two-family dwelling, attached or detached structures accessory to such use and/or farm structures. A person who constructs more than one home in a two-year period shall not be considered a homeowner.