Construction in Pelham

Building permits are required for all work, except minor repairs, in the Town of Pelham.

In addition, if a tradesperson is hired to do the work and the contract price exceeds $500, they must have a valid Home Improvement Contractors registration, proof of insurance, and provide a written contract (Workers' Compensation Insurance Affidavit) which should be attached to the building permit along with payment by check of the fee for the work to be completed.

The following is intended as a guide for those who are engaged in any phase of new construction, alteration, or repair pursuant to Pelham Zoning Bylaw §24 B: "No building shall be constructed or changed, or the use changed, until a permit has been issued by the Building Inspector. No permit shall be issued until a sewage disposal works permit, when applicable, has first been obtained from the Board of Health and the proposed building and location thereof conform with the town's laws and bylaws. Any new building or structure shall conform with all adopted state and town laws, bylaws, codes and regulations. No building shall be occupied until a certificate of occupancy has been issued by the Building Inspector where required."

Below are Board/Committees meeting schedules and what permits can be obtained from those particular groups/individuals:

MEETING TIMES/Hours of Operation

1. Planning Board: If the construction involves a division of land obtain clearance from the Planning Board to determine that the lot meets zoning requirements and subdivision approval is not required. Additions to existing structures, and additional new structures on a lot must meet setback requirements.

Chair, Judy Eiseman (413) 253-2932

Meetings on 2nd Mondays


7:00 p.m.


2 South Valley Road

2. Conservation Commission: Contact to see if a Wetlands Determination has been made on the property.

Chair, Dana MacDonald (413) 461-8224

Meetings on 2nd & LAST Thursdays

7:00 p.m.

Rhodes Building,

351 Amherst Road

3. Driveway Permit: Apply through Town Clerk to DPW Superintendent for Driveway Permit. No vehicular access temporary or permanent can be constructed without a permit.

Highway Superintendent 413-253-5245

Town Clerk 413-253-0512



7:00am to 3:30pm

Highway Garage

353 Amherst Road

4. Board of Health: Apply to Board of Health regarding percolation test (schedule through Quabbin Health Dist.), well installation, septic system permit, plumbing.

Board of Health 413-967-9615


March thru May the meeting times vary, June thru February

2nd Tuesdays

7:00 p.m.

Rhodes Building

351 Amherst Road

Quabbin Health District

413-967-9615 or 800-279-2357

Administrative Assistant, Betty Barlow


8:30am - 4:00pm

Town Hall

Suite-D, 126 Main St. Ware, MA 01082




5. Building Inspector: Apply for Building Permit.



Rhodes Building

6. Tree Warden: Contact to determine if tree belt will be disturbed by driveway construction.

Dave Hawkins 413-253-4266




7. Fire Chief: Contact for permits and information pertaining to fuel (LP gas/oil) storage tanks and burner installation. (Underground tanks also require permit from Board of Selectmen)

Fire Station 253-3311 (non-emergency number)


Meetings Monday evenings


Fire Station

2 South Valley Road

8. Zoning Board of Appeals: Accessory apartments, Special Permits, Variances, Findings, and/or appeals from rulings of the Planning Board and Building Inspector may be made to the Board of Appeals.

 Chair, Jeffrey Eiseman  413-253-2932

Meetings as Needed


Rhodes Building

351 Amherst road


Permit applications, forms, or information may be obtained online on the building department page or by visiting the Selectmen's Office in the Rhodes Building/Town Offices. 


Monday - Thursday 9am-3pm


Rhodes Building

351 Amherst Road


Electrical: Ron Shepard at 575-3403

LP Gas: Andy French 537-2596

Plumbing: Inspector Andy French, contact Quabbin Health District (413) 967-9615










1. Changes to an existing building must be brought before the Building Inspector

2. Prior to conducting a percolation test, a Determination from the Conservation Commission must be on file.

3. Percolation season is March 15 to May 15.

4. Application to repair a septic system must be approved by the Board of Health.

5. Under State law permission from the Conservation Commission is required to alter any wetland, including a stream or pond, or create such that did not formerly exist.

6. Pelham requires that all properties display the street number assigned by the Building Inspector and that such number be highly visible


1. Percolation test for a sanitary disposal system must be conducted by a licensed engineer or sanitarian and to be valid it must be witnessed by a member of the Board of Health or its agent. The Town of Pelham requires that there be 2 deep holes of not less than 10 feet deep to observe seepage. The test must conform to all applicable State and Town regulations.

2. Not less than 3 copies of the plan for the on-site sanitary disposal system (septic system) together with a Disposal Works Construction Permit Application must be submitted to the Board of Health; and the original application must:

a. Be signed by the applicant

b. Bear the original seal of the engineer or sanitarian who prepared the plans

c. Show the name and address of the Installer who will build the system. (Only Installers registered in Pelham will be acceptable)

d. Have attached the correct permit fee

3. The plan, prepared by the engineer or sanitarian licensed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts must meet the following requirements:

a. A "to-scale" plan of the entire site must be shown together with any adjoining features which will influence the design such as the location of swamps, wetlands, wells, water courses, streams, rivers, other septic systems, water supplies, etc.

b. The proposed locations of the dwelling, the septic system and water supply should be shown on the plan.

c. A detailed plan for the septic system with suitable elevations of the system.

d. Plans must be clear and prepared in a readily understood manner.

e. A copy of house plans must be included to assist in verifying the design of the septic system which is based on the number of bedrooms in the proposed dwelling.

4. The plan may be submitted at a regular Board of Health meeting or through the Selectmen's secretary. In either event the Board of Health reserves the right to submit the plan for professional review to a licensed sanitarian, engineer or the District Health Officer of the Quabbin Health District.

5. Once the septic system plan is approved the Board of Health will give a license to drill a well.

6. When the well is drilled a sample of water must be taken for analysis at an approved licensed laboratory.

7. The State report of the Well Digger, and the report of analysis of water must be submitted to the Board of Health.

8. If the water is found to be potable, a Permit to Construct a Sanitary Disposal Works will be issued and this is required in order to obtain a building permit.

9. Once the septic system is constructed it is to be inspected and approved by both the engineer/sanitarian who designed it and the Board of Health or its agent. The entire system is not to be covered until it is inspected, and failure to follow this instruction will result in the system being uncovered for inspection.

There may be fees charged if the system is improperly installed and requires reinspection.

10. Applicants are warned that is their responsibility to know the rules and to guide applications through the various committees and boards; the Board of Health will not forward plans, documents or other materials on the applicant's behalf. The applicant must see that various boards and committees dealing with a permit have the applicant's current address and phone number.

NOTE: 10/27/93 - Town of Pelham adopted the provisions of MGL Chapter 40 §57 allowing the Town to deny any application for, or revoke or suspend any local license or permit including renewals and transfers issued by any board, officer, department for any person, corporation or business enterprise who has neglected or refused to pay any local taxes, fees, assessments, betterments or any other municipal charges.

F. BUILDING PERMIT FEES                               EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 1, 2012


Send to:

Building Inspector


351 Amherst Road


Pelham, MA 01002

Phone: (413) 687-5036

Building Permit Fees: The fee is based on $5 per $1,000 cost of construction, or value of project as determined below. THERE IS A MINIMUM FEE OF $50 UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Value of Project: In order to keep the fees equitable for all projects permit fees will be based on the cost of construction or using the following scale as a minimum.

New Construction for dwelling units/additions

$150.00 per sq ft

Commercial Industrial New Construction

$200.00 sq ft

Commercial accessory buildings

$50.00 sq ft

Conversion of non-residential space to living space

$120.00 sq ft

Residential accessory buildings & non-living space (decks)

$30.00 sq ft

Basement Renovations

$50.00 sq ft

Conversion of non commercial to commercial space

$110.00 sq ft



Above ground pool


In-ground pool


Wood stove/chimney


Replacement of Permit Card of Certificate of Occupancy


Stop Work Order




Fire or natural disaster repairs

$5/$1,000 cost



Temporary structures (tents)


Fees will be doubled when construction is started prior to issuance of a permit

Contractors must be licensed and have valid worker’s compensation insurance or exempt status

Permits are required to construct, reconstruct, alter, repair, remove or demolish a structure; re-roofing, installing siding and replacement windows; or to install or alter any equipment regulated by the building code. Check with the Building Inspector for fees not listed; solar installation, and insulation.

Ordinary repairs do not require a permit if the work does not affect structure, egress, fire protection, fire ratings, energy conservation, plumbing, heating, sanitary, gas, electrical or other utilities.


Send to:

Quabbin Health District


126 Main Street Town Hall, Suite-D


Ware, MA 01082



Installer’s License


Offal Remover


Food Handler


Camp site



See table below

Solar hitch


Rubbish remover


Disposal Works - new


Disposal Works – Repair




Perc Test (each lot prepaid – first hour) See below


Failure to appear without 48 hour notice


Milk dealers


Trailer park


 *Well diggers do not have to pay if $15.00 fee is paid for permit.


Electrical Inspector, Ron Shepard  &  Assistant Electrical Inspector, Doug Rae

Send to:

Electrical Inspector


351 Amherst Road


Pelham, MA 01002



New Single Family


Additions, alternations, each accessory structure


Equipment installations


Limited energy alarm & communications systems




Any required additional inspection


Temporary Service (one meter)


Temporary Service (underground)


Swimming Pools - In ground


Swimming Pools - Above ground


Energy Alarm & Communication Systems


All other permits requiring electrical inspections





Gas Inspector, Andy French

Send to:

 Gas Inspector


351 Amherst Road


Pelham, MA 01002



New residential (gas)


Interior renovation (gas)


Underground tank (gas)


Any required additional inspection



Plumbing Inspector, Andy French

Send to:

 Quabbin Health District


Town Hall, Suite-D


126 Main Street


Ware, MA 01082


413-967-9615 or 800-279-2357

Plumbing – New (Covers all fixtures and 2 inspections - rough and finished)


Any Additional Inspections Required


Plumbing – Residential remodel work (includes one fixture/appliance)


Additional fixture/appliance







Send to:

Pelham Fire Department, Attn. Fire Chief


2 South Valley Road


Pelham, MA 01002


253-3311 (non-emergency) or 911

Oil Burner


Oil Tank


Underground Tank


Smoke Detector


LP Natural Gas Tank


Burning Permit (one-time permit)


Burning Permit (Seasonal)


 G. DIMENSIONAL AND DENSITY REGULATIONS (including "Pelham Square[Lot Layout] )

Extracted from Chapter 125 (Zoning Bylaw), Code of the Town of Pelham

§ 125-6. Dimensional and density regulations.

A. All permitted uses and uses allowed by special permit shall be in conformity with the dimensional and density regulations set forth in the Table of Dimensional and Density Regulations. A "lot, building or buildable," is any lot that conforms to all state and local requirements (e.g., Zoning Bylaw, Wetlands Act/Bylaw, Health Codes, Subdivision Control Law) for the purposes of construction or development on said lot.

Table 2

Table of Dimensional and Density Regulations

(See Definitions in § 125-34.)


Cemeteries, Town of Pelham Municipal Parks and Recreation Areas

All Other Governmental/Public Service and Institutional Uses

All Other Uses

Minimum building lot size (square feet)




Minimum frontage/building lot width (feet)




Minimum setbacks








Side (feet)




Rear (feet)




Maximum building height (feet)




Maximum building coverage




Minimum Open space




1Bed-and-breakfast facilities containing up to two bed-and-breakfast units shall have a minimum lot size of 88,000 square feet. Each additional bed-and-breakfast unit shall require an additional 5,000 square feet of lot area.

2[Amended 5-11-1996 ATM, Art. 22]

(1) Lot layout. In addition to the minimum lot area, depth, width and frontage requirements, lots shall be laid out in such a manner so that a square, with sides equal to the minimum frontage requirement for the zoning district in which it is located, can be placed within the lot with at least one point of the square lying on the front lot line with no portion of the square extending beyond the boundaries of the lot.

(2) Antennas. Antennas shall not exceed a height of 10 feet above the peak of a roof or a maximum height of 40 feet from the ground without a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals. Furthermore, the height of any antenna shall not exceed the distance from the antenna to the closest property line.

(3) Satellite dishes used for television reception. Satellite dishes larger than 30 inches in diameter, must be mounted on the ground so that their overall height will not exceed 12 feet above existing grade. Such dishes must be of wire mesh construction and black or dark green in color. Such dishes must be totally screened from view at ground level from any adjacent lot or street. Satellite dishes 30 inches or smaller in diameter may be attached to existing structures and are not subject to the foregoing restrictions. [Amended 5-9-1998 ATM, Art. 29]


Extracted from Chapter 23, Code of the Town of Pelham

§ 23-1. Permit required.

No owner or occupant of land abutting upon a town way of Pelham or any public way, or any other way which is considered as frontage by statute, shall construct any private road, driveway or any other vehicular access to said lot, temporary or permanent, so as to extend into or from such public way, without first having obtained a written driveway permit therefore from the Superintendent of Department of Public Works or his/her designee, having charge of maintenance and repair of such public way.

§ 23-2. Application process.

Fully completed applications for a driveway permit shall be submitted to the Town Clerk. If mailed it should be return receipt requested. A fully completed application shall consist of:

A. Completed driveway permit application.

B. Twenty-five dollar filing fee.

C. An accurate sketch plan and diagrams showing boundaries and dimensions of lot, driveway location, design, dimensions, grades, materials of driveway, drainage provisions, including culverts, and intended purpose.

D. Any other information, which the Department of Public Works Superintendent or his/her designee may deem necessary in order to render a decision based on the design standards contained in § 23-5.

§ 23-3. Permit approval or denial.

The Superintendent of the Department of Public Works or his/her designee shall either approve or deny the driveway permit within 30 days from the date of receipt by the Town Clerk of the fully competed application. In denying an application, specific reasons shall be given. Failure to render a decision and file it with the Town Clerk within the required thirty-day period shall be deemed approval of said application.

§ 23-4. Modifications.

A. All driveways shall be constructed in accordance with the plans and driveway permit approved and issued by the Department of Public Works Superintendent or his/her designee. No modifications shall be made unless they are submitted in writing to the Town Clerk and approved by the Department of Public Works Superintendent or his/her designee. Any request for a modification shall follow the same format, including filing fee, as an original submission in §23-2.

B. No significant modification to an existing driveway, e.g. changes to layout, grading, drainage or surface treatment (except resurfacing), shall be made without first obtaining a permit from the Department of Public Works Superintendent or his/her designee, in order to insure that no increased danger to the public or increased likelihood of damage to a public way occurs. Any request for a modification shall follow the same format, including filing fee, as an original submission in § 23-2.

§ 23-5. Design standards.

A. Location; minimum dimensions.

(1) Driveways shall be located at a right angle to the public way for at least the first 20 feet of driveway length measured from the edge of the traveled way.

(2) The curbline radius of the segment connecting the driveway edge to the edge of the traveled way shall be a minimum of 10 feet. The segment shall extend an arc no less then 75°.

(3) The width of the driveway for a single-family residence use shall be a minimum of 12 feet, but shall not exceed 15 feet. For common access driveways, the minimum width shall be no less then 18 feet and the maximum width no more then 20 feet.

(4) The driveway edge should not be located within 25 feet of a side property line within the first 20 feet of driveway length from the public way.

B. Sight distance.

(1) No wall or other obstruction shall be planted, constructed or maintained at the intersection of the driveway with the public way which, in the opinion of the Department of Public Works Superintendent or his/her designee, poses danger to traffic on the public way or to users of the driveway by unreasonably obscuring a view.

(2) No new driveway shall be located where the minimum sight distances in each direction measured at four feet above and 10 feet back from the traveled road surface along the way is less than 150 feet.

C. Proper design of the driveway shall be such as to avoid any drainage of runoff onto the public way.

D. Culverts and drainage. Existing drainage ditches parallel to the public way shall not be obstructed by driveway construction. Culverts of appropriate size, length and durable material (such as asphalt-coated galvanized steel) shall be provided by the applicant as determined by the Department of Public Works Superintendent or his/her designee. Culvert location shall also be determined by the Department of Public Works Superintendent or his/her designee.

E. Gradients. The gradient of a new driveway must conform to the following standards:

(1) The first 30 feet of driveway shall have a grade no greater then 2%; and

(2) The next 20 feet of the driveway shall have a grade no greater than 5%.

F. A paved apron shall be provided from the edge of the traveled way into the first 10 feet of the driveway if the traveled way is paved. Surface treatment of the remainder of the driveway shall be sufficient to prevent erosion or washout of the driveway onto the public right-of-way or into the public drainage system.

G. All new driveways shall be provided with adequate space for reversing the direction of a vehicle, so that the vehicle may enter the public way facing forward.

H. The Department of Public Works Superintendent or his/her designee may, based on sound engineering practice for the site's terrain or driveway usage, modify the design standard requirements specified in Subsections A and E of this section to be either more or less restrictive in cases where unusual circumstances exist. No exception shall result in increased danger to the public or increased likelihood of damage to a public way compared with a driveway built to the existing standards.

I. The Department of Public Works Superintendent or his/her designee may impose additional conditions and criteria which he/she deems necessary in the interest of public safety and general welfare.

J. See § 125-18 of Chapter 125, Zoning, for additional information on driveway design standards.

§ 23-6. Violations and penalties.

Whoever by himself, being the owner or occupant, or by his agents or servants violates this regulation shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $20 per day, and be liable for tort to the Town of Pelham for all damages caused thereby, and for the cost and expense of removing obstruction material and of restoring the public way to its former condition.

Click here for Driveway Permit Application


Extracted from Chapter 125, (Zoning Bylaw), Code of the Town of Pelham

§125-9. Accessory apartments.

A. Definition. An accessory apartment is a separate housekeeping unit, complete with its own means of egress, sleeping, cooking and sanitary facilities, that is substantially contained within the structure of a single-family dwelling, but functions as a separate unit.

B. Purpose. The purposes of this accessory apartment section are to:

(1) Encourage a more balanced and diverse population and income mix.

(2) Provide older homeowners with a means of obtaining, through tenants in accessory apartments, rental income, companionship, security and services, and thereby to enable them to stay more comfortably in homes and neighborhoods they might otherwise be forced to leave.

(3) Make housing units available to moderate-income households who might otherwise have difficulty finding homes within the town.

(4) Protect stability, property values and the single-family residential character of a neighborhood.

C. Conditions. The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) may authorize, under a special permit in all residential districts, a use known as accessory apartment in an owner-occupied, single-family dwelling, provided that the following standards and criteria are met:

(1) The apartment will be a complete, separate housekeeping unit that functions as a separate unit from the original unit, and has its own means of egress.

(2) Only one apartment will be created within a single-family house.

(3) No more than three persons shall occupy the accessory apartment.

(4) The owner(s) of the residence in which the accessory apartment is located shall occupy at least one of the dwelling units on their premises. The owner must occupy the structure full time for a minimum of 18 months over a twenty-four-month period. When the owner(s) are not present, the unit they occupy must remain vacant.

(5) The accessory apartment shall be designed so that the appearance of the building remains that of a one-family residence. In general, any new entrances shall be located on the side or rear of the building.

(6) The accessory apartment shall be clearly a subordinate part of the single-family dwelling. It shall be no greater than 800 square feet nor have more than two bedrooms.

(7) At least three permanent off-street parking spaces shall be available for use by the owner-occupant(s) and tenant(s). These parking spaces shall be screened from ways and adjacent or abutting properties. Screening may consist of dense, hardy evergreen plantings, earthen berms, wall or tight fence, complemented by evergreen plantings or other decorative elements.

(8) The construction of any accessory apartment must be in conformity with State Building Code requirements.

(9) Before a special building permit can be obtained for an accessory apartment, the owner must obtain a disposal works construction permit from the Board of Health to ensure that the existing sewage disposal system is adequate for the proposed alteration to the existing dwelling.

(10) In order to encourage the development of housing units for disabled and handicapped individuals and persons with limited mobility, the Zoning Board of Appeals may allow reasonable deviation from the stated conditions where necessary to install features that facilitate access and mobility for disabled persons.

D. Application procedure. The procedure for the submission and approval of a special permit for an accessory apartment in an owner-occupied, single-family dwelling shall be the same as prescribed in the special permit section by the Zoning Board of Appeals, except it shall include a notarized letter of application from the owner(s) stating that he/she/they will occupy one of the dwelling units on the premises.

E. Transfer of ownership of a dwelling with an accessory apartment. When a structure which has received a special permit for an accessory apartment is sold, the new owner, if he/she/they wish to continue to exercise the special permit, must, within 30 days of the sale, submit a notarized letter to the Building Inspector stating that he/she/they will occupy one of the dwelling units in the structure as his/her/their permanent/primary residence and shall conform to all of the criteria and conditions for accessory apartments and the approved special permit. (The foregoing sentence shall appear as a condition on any special permits that are issued under this chapter.)


Extracted from Chapter 125, (Zoning Bylaw), Code of the Town of Pelham

§ 125-12. Home occupations.

A. Home occupations shall be permitted in all districts only upon issuance of a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals, and in accordance with the additional requirements specified here.

B. Additional requirements. Home occupations as accessory to a residential use shall be permitted subject to the following requirements:

(1) The home occupation shall only be carried on by members of the family living on the premises;

(2) The area devoted to the conduct of the home occupation shall not exceed 30% of the habitable floor area of the dwelling unit;

(3) There shall be no change in the outside appearance of the building or premises, or other visible evidence of the conduct of such home occupation other than one sign, not exceeding four square feet of face area, nonilluminated, and mounted flat against the wall of the principle building;

(4) The special permit granted for a home occupation shall be for an initial period of not more than one year, and the permit may be renewed for up to three years (per application) thereafter upon application to the Zoning Board of Appeals; and

(5) No home occupation shall violate any other provision of this chapter.