Frequently Asked Questions
What permits/licenses are issued by the Inspectional Division?
The Inspectional Division encompasses all city trade and health inspectors. Trade inspectors review and issue permits for the construction/alteration/demolition of buildings, electrical wiring and service, gas and plumbing fixtures and mechanical appliances. A permit also may be necessary to erect a sign or billboard, to excavate a trench or to complete sheet metal installation. City health inspectors issue licenses relative to food and food establishments, occupancy of residential and retail spaces, body art/piercing places, trash removal and disposal.
How I do apply for a permit?
You may submit permit applications, pay fees or request additional information at Lynn City Hall, Room 401, when City Hall is open, or via the online GeoTMS portal.
Who can obtain a building permit?
Only a licensed contractor can obtain a building permit, except that the owner of a single- or two-family home which he/she occupiesmay personally apply for a permit.
Can I make improvements to my own property myself?
A property owner may make improvements to a residential single- or two-family residence in which he/she resides, unless the building inspector determines that the workers are incompetent and/or unprepared for the task. A licensed contractor must be hired to make improvements to all other types structures.
What if I’ve already started a project without a permit?
Persons engaging in work without a permit may face daily fines and may be ordered to remove completed work which violates state or municipal law. If you’ve begun a project without approval, you should stop immediately and submit a permit application to the Inspectional Division, City Hall, Room 401 or via the online GeoTMS portal.
How do I determine whether a structure is located in a residential or commercial zone?
To determine what zone a property is located within please review the City Zoning Map. The City Zoning Ordinance identifies which types of structures and uses are permitted by right and which require special approval in each area.
Can you recommend a contractor for home improvement?
Inspectional Services Department staff cannot directly recommend a contractor to you. For more information, please visit the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety’s website: Information on Selecting a Contractor.
Can I speak with an inspector before I start a new project?
Yes, absolutely! A building inspector is available every morning (8:30-12:30) at City Hall, Room 405, to review plans, offer suggestions and explanations and to assist in preparing or review permit applications.
Are plans needed in order to apply for a permit?
An updated and current plot plan is necessary to request for a building permit, but may not be required for other types of permits. The permit application form will identify all materials which must be submitted.
Where do I get a plot plan?
A surveyor will create plot plan to be submitted with the building permit application to ensure that the proposed construction is congruent with zoning, code and environmental regulations.
How long does the permit review process take?
Many types of permits may be reviewed and issued over the counter. For more involved projects, including those involving plan review, a decision should be made within thirty (30) days.
What will it cost to take out a permit?
Permit fees are set by city ordinance and are payable by cash, check or credit card when submitting application documents. The schedule of fees is available online. Building/trade Permit Fees. Food/health Permit Fees.
How can I obtain a property record card?
A property record card can be obtained from Patriot Properties.
Please visit their website.
What factors are considered when my permit application is reviewed?
City inspectors will review plans to ensure that the proposed construction or alteration is allowed under all relevant state and local laws including the City zoning ordinance. The City Zoning Ordinance limits the types of structures and uses which are permitted in different areas of the city.
I received a corrections list, what do I do next?
If you receive a corrections list, it means that your application was denied for the reasons listed. If you still wish to pursue the project, you must resolve the identified issues and reapply for a permit.
Now that I’ve received a permit are there any rules I ought to be aware of?
Work is to begin on permitted projects within six (6) months of issuance of the permit, and once begun work must progress continuously until the project is complete.
How do I request copies of Inspectional Service Department records?
Records may be requested during business hours in City Hall, Room 401.
Do I need a building permit to build a shed?
You do not need a building permit provided that the shed is less than two hundred square feet (200 ft2). You need prior approval and a building permit to construct a larger structure.
Do I need a permit for building a fence?
Any fence greater than six feet (6’) tall typically requires a building permit, but shorter fences may not. Please contact the Inspectional Division to determine whether a permit is required.
When re-roofing a house, how many layers of shingles are allowed?
Only one layer of shingles is allowed. The existing layer of shingles must be removed as part of any repair or alteration.
Do I need a permit to construct a swimming pool?
A permit is required for any pool deeper than twenty-four inches (24”), whether it is an above-ground or in-ground pool.
What are the requirements for food vendors?
The Board of Health has established four classes of food permits, as well as several licenses specific to particular food sale situations. For more information, please review the schedule of Health License Fees or visit City Hall, Room 405, to speak with the Sanitarian during business hours.
What if I only sell pre-packaged foods. Do I still need to contact the Sanitarian?
Yes, even if you are only selling pre-packaged foodstuff a permit or permits may be required.
Do I need a permit for roll down grills or awnings?
Are satellite dishes allowed on roofs or side walls?
Yes, they are allowed.
I want to rent a portion of my home. What is required?
All residential living spaces must meet the minimum requirements for health and safety found within the state sanitary code and building code, as well city zoning requirements. The unit must be inspected and permitted before your tenant moves in.
Are there minimum space requirements applicable to apartments?
A bedroom must be not less than seventy square feet (70 ft2) for a single occupant. The total room size must increase by fifty square feet (50 ft2) for each additional occupant.
Are there rules concerning windows?
All exterior windows must be outfitted with locks and screens.
What about lighting in common areas and entrances/exits?
The owner shall provide lighting in common areas and at entrances, including porches, at his/her own expense.
What are some tips in controlling rodents?
There are many things that can be done to both attempt to and control pests and rodents in your home. Make sure your trash is placed outside shortly before its time for pickup and in metal or heavy containers, either with tight lids to secure the trash inside. If you have a pet, make sure that the pet food is not left out overnight or outside. Make sure that all of your windows have screens on them and are repaired as soon as possible if there is a problem. Inspect your basement for any cracks or holes that may be letting rodents in and seal them.