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Open Building Permits
A continued source of frustration and inconvenience for the Needham homeowner appears to be the open building permit. With few exceptions (siding and roofing permits, etc.) all building permits in the Needham Building Department system culminate with the issuance of a certificate of occupancy (indicating that the work has been completed and the permit has been closed). The certificate of occupancy (or certificate of completion) is generated after a final building inspection has been scheduled and successfully completed.

The frustration and inconvenience are most often when a homeowner (or prospective buyer) discovers these open permits at the time they place their home on the market for sale or when they apply for an additional building permit. Often, considerable time has elapsed since the project has been completed and the appropriate paperwork (permits, plans, plot plans surveys, etc.) have been lost or misplaced. The homeowner must then relocate their contractor, try to duplicate the paperwork, schedule the appropriate inspections (final electrical, plumbing and gas, fire department or building), and try to organize and complete the process.

Building Permit Process
The typical building permit process has several levels of inspections as follows:
  • Footings or foundation inspection
  • Rough inspection (rough electrical, plumbing and gas, and fire department as applicable; then rough building inspection)
  • Insulation inspection
  • Final inspection (final electrical, plumbing and gas, and fire department, as applicable; then final building inspection)

Each project is unique, however, these are the typical levels of inspections, all culminating with a final building inspection, which produces a certificate of occupancy or a certificate of completion. This certificate is then issued to the homeowner indicating that the work has been completed and that the permit has been closed.

Some homeowner's choose to coordinate the receipt of this certificate of occupancy with their final payment to their contractor as a method to ensure that the project has been completed.