Inspectional Services permitting process
When applying for a permit in person, applicants must visit counters 1 and 2 for large projects.
Counters are located at:
1010 Massachusetts Ave., 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02118
Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Counter 1: Applying and paying for permits
The first step in the permitting process is to go to Counter 1. Here, you'll apply for building, electrical, plumbing and gas permits and pay fees. Counter 1 serves as the “intake” area for all construction permits.
For minor work not involving structural work, life safety systems and egress changes, a short-form building permit may be allowed. Electrical, plumbing and gas permits will also be processed. These permits are typically issued the same day. Find out what type of permit you need for your project.
For larger projects you'll have to show us your plans and any supporting documents. A representative at Counter 1 will help you with the next steps. You may have to go to Counter 2 for review.
Counter 2: Plan review and zoning
Counter 2 is where we process and review plans. In some cases, you may not need to go to Counter 2. We’ll review your plans and make sure they meet local zoning codes. Learn more about zoning laws.
You can find out what zoning laws apply to your project before you come in. The online Zoning Check allows you to see the laws for your location.
We'll also check to see if you need to get approval from other departments and agencies like:
- the Parks Department if your building is within 100 feet of a park or parkway.
- the Environment Department if your project will affect wetlands.
- the Landmarks Commission if your project is in a historic district, and
- the Boston Redevelopment Authority, depending on the location and size of your project.
In some cases, your permit may get denied if it doesn't meet zoning regulations. You can appeal with the Zoning Board of Appeals at Counter 2. Learn how to file an appeal.
After you apply
You can't start work on your project until you get a printed Building Permit card. If you applied for a permit online, this is something you can print at home on your own.
If you made changes to a plan, you need to wait until your change is approved. If you start without a permit or don't follow the rules, we may:
- charge you double the original fee
- file a building code violation, or
- suspend or revoke your building license.
While you're waiting for approval, you can check on the status of your application. Once you get your permit, it's good for six months after the date of issue. You have to work without interruption during this time. In some cases, you may be able to extend your permit for another 180 days. Only certain projects are eligible for an extension.