Construction Project Permitting has a Third Party – Your Municipality

In Massachusetts, our lively political environment creates added “fun” for our clients when navigating the exciting world of zoning, planning, board of health and wetlands commissions, to name a few. This is because our Government wants to have law- and fees on the law, and leave the individual towns with enough leeway to have their own laws on top of the state rules. In most cases, as long as the town/city adopts a stricter standard. Energy conservation may be the easiest one to use as an example, so if the state requires an insulation value of R19 for walls, the town can up the ante to R-21.


The biggest challenge for consumers and contractors is that almost every town or city operates differently, and some towns have great public servants that put the customer (taxpayer) first, and some departments have the other bureaucratic style. For fun, I found this definition online and was surprised that it is either great or not-so-great by definition.


adjective: bureaucratic


Relating to the business of running an organization, or government.

  1. “well-established bureaucratic procedures”

  2. “overly concerned with procedure at the expense of efficiency or common sense.

  3. “the plan is overly bureaucratic and complex”


Don’t trouble yourself too much with learning the different laws- they seem to change often. The most important information for you to first understand is the length of time it will take to get approvals for your project to start. If your builder doesn’t know approximate times/issues…. find a new builder!  Below is a list of typical waits based on the current environment.

Current days from submission of permit – Boston to Holliston before you get the permit. (Based on my experience and not scientific research).


Most of the surprise is if you would need a special permit or variance, and that is most common with new homes or additions- so ask that question first.  And as I always say, plan properly and avoid as many surprises as possible- Happy Renovations!


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