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Building Permit on a door

Apply for a Building Permit

Inspectional Services

Building permits are issued by the Inspectional Services Department (ISD). Anyone seeking to construct, alter, repair, or demolish a structure must first obtain a building permit. The building permit must be obtained before the start of any work and prominently posted at the job site.

Ordinary repairs, as defined in the Building Code, do not require a building permit.

How to Start

  1. Register for a user account with the permitting software, if you do not have one already. This is a cloud-based interface that may be accessed from any type of computer, hand-held device or web browser.
  2. Log into the online permitting portal.
  3. Fill out the application and upload required documentation in PDF format. You will have the option to save an unfinished application and complete it at a later date.
  4. Once submitted, an email link to a copy of the application will be available to you.

  5. A cursory check of the application will be conducted only to assess its completeness - this is not a review of the merits of the application.

    Additional documentation can be uploaded directly by the applicant at any time.

    Please check your emails regularly for notifications sent by the permitting software to the email address you registered your account with. All written correspondence with City staff should be conducted through the permitting software and not by emailing directly to their city email address – this allows other staff to understand the application status. Correspondence requires logging back into the online permitting portal and using the ‘Comments’ section.
  6. The application is initially distributed to City departments outside of the Inspectional Services Department (ISD). By logging into the online permitting portal at any time, you will readily see which department the application has been assigned to, and see its status within the entire permitting process.

    Applicants are advised to make separate appointments with each City department pertinent to the project (additional permits may be required). It is the responsibility of the applicant to secure approvals from non-ISD departments – please contact them directly.
  7. Once approvals from all non-ISD departments are completed, the applicant will be invoiced with a permit fee calculated by ISD. Payment may be made by credit card or e-check online, or by physical check at the Inspectional Services counter. Note that credit card and e-check payments will have service fees which are in addition to the invoiced permit fee.
  8. When payment is received and processed by the City of Cambridge, the application is received for review by the Inspectional Services Department. Inspectional Services will issue or deny a permit application within 30 days of payment processing. Note that if supplemental information is required by City staff, the application will be put on hold and the review period accordingly extended until such time that all outstanding questions are satisfactorily answered for evaluation of the proposed project in relation to applicable ordinances and building codes.
  9. Once an application is approved, ISD will print a building permit card which can be picked up at the Inspectional Services counter. The permit card must be kept at the work site in a prominent location until completion of the construction project.


Zoning Compliance

Contact ISD or the Community Development Department (CDD) staff to ensure that the proposed project is in compliance with the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance.

Protected Structures

Structures which are located in historic districts or neighborhood conservation districts, designated as landmarks, or subject to preservation restrictions are protected by the Cambridge Historical Commission.

Curb Cut

If a new curb cut is necessary for required off-street parking or loading, an Application for Driveway Cuts and Openings must be filed at ISD.

Special Permit Transportation Conditions

If applicable, the Traffic, Parking & Transportation Department will review compliance.

Additional Information

Building permits are issued to construction supervisors licensed by the City of Cambridge. As an exception, building permits are issued to homeowners doing work on one or two unit dwellings where they reside or intend to reside. Changes to the planned work authorized by a building permit must be authorized by a modification to the original permit.

Page was last modified on 4/18/2024 5:16 PM
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