Building Permit Applications and the Board of Health

Frequently asked questions

Electronic filing of
building permit applications.

As of July 1, 2011, all building permit applications must be
filed electronically with the building inspector's office in Greenfield.  The Board of Health will review and sign your
application on line.  We may ask you to
come to a meeting and discuss your project in person.

Why do I need the
Board of Health to sign my building permit application?

This is a requirement of the town’s zoning by-law.  Board of Health review of building permit
applications ensures that state laws and local regulations are being met, and
helps protect both drinking water and groundwater.

What do I have to do
to get the Board of Health signature?

New construction of a dwelling:

The Board must issue the well construction permit
and review the driller’s log and water quality analysis before signing the
building permit application. 

By state law, a building permit
for a new home may not be issued unless there is an adequate on-site supply of
potable water.  An appropriate site for
the well is usually determined by the designer of the septic system.  Although the septic system need not be approved before the building permit is issued, the Board of Health prefers to have at least a tentative septic system design before issuing the well permit. 

Renovation or addition to an existing dwelling or addition of a new
structure such as a barn or shed, or a pole-mounted photovoltaic system:

Board of Health has two primary concerns.

            1) Wells,
water lines, and septic system components under the ground must be protected
from damage by heavy machinery or digging, 
In addition, the required setbacks between the new construction and the well and septic system components must be respected.  Whenever there is outdoor construction you must show on the plot plan
the location of the well, septic tank, and leaching area.

            2) The
number of bedrooms or potential bedrooms in the dwelling must be consistent
with the number of bedrooms for which the septic system was designed.  The Board of Health generally defines as a
bedroom any room that constitutes private space and includes an “egress window”
usable for escape in case of fire.  Whenever interior work results in the creation of additional rooms, or makes private space from existing non-private spaces, you must provide a plan of the entire house with
the proposed renovation.

What if my home
ofice, den, playroom, exercise room, etc., causes the number of  potential bedrooms to exceed the septic
system capacity?  Will the Board of
Health refuse to sign off, even though I have no intention of using the room as
a bedroom?

Certainly not: we trust you.  But to make sure the room isn’t used as a permanent
bedroom, or sold as a permanent bedroom, at some time in the future, we ask you
to first record a notarized deed restriction with the Registry
of Deeds at the courthouse in Greenfield and return the recorded document to
the Board of Health.  This document will
appear in any title search done on your property so that any future buyer will
be aware of the number of bedrooms the septic system can support.  If the septic system is enlarged, or if your home is connected to a sewer system, the restriction is lifted.  This results in another document that is recorded at the registry, stating that the restriction no longer applies.

The recording fee is $75, payable to the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts.  If you wish, you may submit
the notarized document and the fee to the Board of Health and we will record it
for you.