Building Deck in Massachusetts


Old 05-21-08, 10:30 AM
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Building Deck in Massachusetts

I want to build a deck off the back of my house, and am having trouble really getting started. I have some books on deck plans, but want to try to follow the rules and get a permit and make sure I build it to code. When I called my town they were very little help. I tried to look online to find the building code, but it is pretty hard to navigate and couldn't find any specific section about decks (although I could have easily missed it). How do I find the specific regulations for decks? And online I found some site claiming that a deck under 10ft in height and under 200sq ft doesn't require a permit, but I can't find any truth to that.

Here's where I was looking at the building code. As I said, the first time I tried to call the city they were of very little help.
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Old 05-21-08, 11:01 AM
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You will have better luck if you go to the office and ask for a pre-permit form and code requirements. State codes vary from state to state and from area to area within a state. Sometimes area codes can be more stringent than state codes.

Here's a good place to get started, but note that local codes take precedence.
Old 05-21-08, 09:31 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

Like twelvepole said, GO to the office, don't just call.

Codes vary from one jurisdiction to the next worse than you can ever imagine.

"Under 10' in height and less than 200 sq. ft." isn't going to fly as to whether it needs a permit or not. That makes no sense. Where I'm at, the magic number is less than 30" above grade. Less than 30", it doesn't require either a railing or a permit. (Makes no difference what the square footage is.) As soon as it has a place that is more than 30" above grade, you need a permit for the entire deck.

Trying to find codes on line is a waste of time. There is simply too much variation from one place to the next. Where I'm at, I have a different set of rules for each of the 3 cities in this county, and a 4th set for what's in the county, outside the city limits. And I do work in 4 different counties, all with the same set of differences.
Old 06-04-08, 04:34 AM
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Deck Permit

I don't have an answer but another variable to throw in -
My recollection is that if the deck is not attached to the house it does not need a permit.

In other words, if it is constructed as a freestanding element that butts up to your house, rather than being structurally attached, it may not require a permit.

Having said that, I don't see why that would make a difference, but in some locals it does.
Old 06-04-08, 05:03 AM
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"Codes vary from one jurisdiction to the next worse than you can ever imagine."

Well worth repeating!!!!

The local code is what you must go by. It doesn't matter what the code is in the next county/city - they aren't the ones that will inspect or tax your property.

When you go to the permit office, they will tell you if you don't need a permit. But if you do, they will also tell you what inspections are necessary. In my county, only a set back inspection is required for any deck. They should also be able to tell you what the inspections entail. Any questions they can't answer can be asked of the inspector. Talking to him prior to calling in an inspection will help you to make sure the job passes
Old 06-04-08, 05:08 AM
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Even though a state may have one building code, the city/county may choose to impose more regulations and restrictions. Confirm with your local building department before starting any construction.

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