Dexksos logo in blue

Your Essential Guide to Deck Permit in Cambridge, MA

front porch built by Dexksos

Understanding Deck Permit in Cambridge, MA

Constructing a deck can be an exciting addition to any home, providing a space for outdoor relaxation and entertainment. However, before breaking ground on your new deck construction project in Cambridge, MA, it’s crucial to understand the necessary permits and regulations that govern such construction. In accordance with Section 110.0 of the Massachusetts State Building Code (780 CMR), a building permit is required for anyone seeking to construct a new building or structure, or to alter, repair, or demolish any structure. This includes decks.

When Do You Need a Deck Permit?

Whether you’re embarking on the new construction of a deck or contemplating modifications to an existing one, obtaining a deck permit is an indispensable prerequisite mandated by law. Any structural alteration, such as the addition or expansion of a deck, requires approval from a building inspector at the Inspectional Services Department (ISD) of the City of Cambridge, MA. This ensures adherence to safety standards and compliance with local building codes.

Moreover, if your deck is affixed to the entryway of your residence and exceeds a height of 30 inches, a permit is obligatory. This encompasses any construction that modifies the structure, footprint, or volume of the building, including decks, porches, or additions. Whether it entails a complete reconstruction, renovation, or mere repair to an existing building, strict adherence to permit regulations is imperative to lawfully commence your project.

cedar deck build by Dexksos
A complete rebuild of this two-story deck in Cambridge, MA by Dexksos. This project required a deck permit due to its attachment to the entryway of the residence and exceeding a height of 30 inches.

Who Can Obtain a Deck Permit?

In Cambridge, deck permits are typically issued to licensed construction supervisors. Homeowners of one or two-unit dwellings can also apply for permits if they reside or intend to reside in the property. However, homeowners assuming permits may bear liability for contractors and might not be protected under the Homeowners Improvement Contractor Law. The Inspectional Services Department advises homeowners to hire licensed contractors to obtain permits, ensuring compliance and minimizing risks. Following these guidelines and obtaining necessary permits is crucial for smooth project execution and safety adherence. Consulting with local authorities and adhering to established procedures is essential for deck projects in Cambridge, MA.

Requirements for Securing a Deck Permit in Cambridge, MA

Securing a deck permit in Cambridge, MA involves fulfilling specific requirements to ensure compliance with building regulations. The following information are the most common and other requirements you need to consider:

Most Common Requirements

  1. MA state issued valid Construction Supervisor License, or a local license, with accompanying HIC Registration for work in 1-4 unit residential buildings or structures.
  2. Contractor’s Worker’s Compensation Insurance certificate copy, or signed and dated Worker’s Compensation Affidavit.
  3. Construction Contract, signed by owner & contractor, describing the work to be performed or including a schedule of values. Cost must include value of all subcontracts, general conditions, fees, and owner-supplied materials.
  4. Drawings – stamped & signed by registered design professionals when required. Drawings need to be comprehensive and show existing conditions. [upload a digital PDF copy and drop off two paper copies of the same drawing set]
  5. Board of Zoning Appeals Decision (stamped by the City Clerk & filed with the Registry of Deeds) if special permit or variance obtained.
  6. Letter of Approval from Condominium Association for proposed work (submit a signed letter or email in pdf format with contact information).
  7. Homeowner’s Affidavit to Perform Construction Work (only for 1&2 family dwellings that are owner-occupied) with Affidavit for Estimated Cost of Construction.
  8. Certified Plot Plan if the exterior of structure is being extended or changed (stamped by registered professional Land Surveyor).
  9. Photographs of existing conditions such as exterior decks, exterior stairs, etc.
  10. Proof of Extermination from pest control company if project is full demo, interior gut demo, or has any sitework (example: foundation).

Other Requirements

  1. Comprehensive Zoning analysis, stamped by a registered architect. The work must be in compliance with the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance.
  2. Initial Construction Control Affidavit stamped and signed by MA state licensed architect and engineers (mepfp/fa).
  3. Engineering drawings & reports (stamped) – structural, mechanical, plumbing, electrical, fire protection, fire alarm, telecommunications.
  4. Project Manual /Specifications – including (but not limited to) product specs, geotechnical reports, hazardous materials reports, Schedule of Tests and Inspections, Special Inspections [only submit a digital PDF copy].
  5. Comprehensive code review including accessibility analysis; narratives for special requirements based on use and occupancy (example: high rise post-fire smoke removal).
  6. Energy code review/reports (HERS or other), lighting allowance calculation, equipment efficiency specifications; include outline of air tightness testing method, schedule and target air leakage rate of envelope design for multi-family projects.
  7. NFPA 241 Construction Fire Safety Plan – for work in occupied buildings (required by Cambridge Fire Department).
  8. Fire Protection Program Manager Form (available from Cambridge Fire Department).
  9. Interior Demolition or Gut Rehab Narrative describing methodology, structural shoring, equipment to be used, and structural elements to be removed.
  10. Lead Safe Renovation Contractor License copy.
  11. Signed Noise Ordinance Affidavit for any new or replacement rooftop mechanical unit.
  12. Letters of approval or filed decisions from other applicable boards or departments: Historic Commission, Planning Board, MA State variances (such as MAAB or BBRS). These are for structures located in historic districts, neighborhood conservation districts, designated as landmarks, or subject to preservation restrictions.
  13. Filed Registry of Deeds Covenant for inclusionary housing units (or similar deed restrictions).
  14. Fire Protection Systems Narrative Report and hydraulic calculations for sprinkler system expansion or substantial change (for minor sprinkler head alterations, fire department has jurisdiction on requirements).
  15. Construction Management Plan (site access, etc.) and Dewatering Plan (if applicable).
  16. Dig Safe file number and Utility Company (gas & electricity) letters confirming shut-off (for demolition permits).
  17. Air Quality Testing Report for asbestos abatement.
  18. Third party structural peer review, where applicable (letter must be stamped by review engineer).
  19. Approval letter from State of Massachusetts agencies for proposed work on properties abutting railroads or waterways.
  20. MA Department of Environmental Protection approval for work in contaminated soils.
  21. Portions of a building projecting over public property must obtain an easement from City Council.

These requirements ensure compliance with building codes and safety standards, facilitating a smooth and legally sound deck construction process in Cambridge, MA. It’s essential to fulfill all necessary criteria and consult with local authorities for specific project needs.

For a comprehensive guide outlining the requirements above, you can refer to the complete checklist here provided by the City of Cambridge, MA (

Process for Securing a Deck Permit in Cambridge, MA

Once you have gathered all the necessary requirements for your deck project in Cambridge, MA, the next step is to apply for a permit. Here’s an overview of the process:

  1. Submission of Application: Submit your completed application to the relevant City departments. Be sure to include all required information and attachments.
  2. Department Review: Your application will undergo a thorough review by applicable City departments. If additional information or attachments are required, you will receive a notification accordingly.
  3. Payment of Building Permit Fee: Upon completion of the department review, you will be prompted to pay the building permit fee. Once your payment is received by the City of Cambridge, your building permit application will be considered filed and ready for plan review by Inspectional Services.
  4. Plan Review: Inspectional Services will conduct a plan review of your application. This review ensures that your proposed deck construction project complies with local building codes and regulations.
  5. Action on Permit Application: According to the building code, action must be taken on the permit application within 30 days of the filing date. If your application is approved, a building permit will be issued to you.

For more detailed steps and information on securing a deck permit in Cambridge, MA, you can refer to this comprehensive step-by-step guide here.

By following these steps and adhering to the established procedures, you can navigate the permit application process smoothly and ensure that your deck construction project in Cambridge, MA, regardless of its square feet, progresses in compliance with local regulations.

Dexksos in Springfield rd Cambridge roof deck day
A successful deck project in Cambridge, MA by Dexksos. Ensuring a smooth permit application process is essential for your deck construction project.

Consequences of Ignoring a Deck Permit in Cambridge, MA

Ignoring the requirement for a deck permit in Cambridge, MA can lead to serious consequences and potential risks. Firstly, proceeding without a permit means disregarding crucial safety regulations and building codes set forth by the city. This increases the likelihood of construction errors, structural instability, and safety hazards for both occupants and visitors.

Furthermore, failure to obtain a permit may result in legal penalties and financial repercussions. The city’s Inspectional Services Department (ISD) has the authority for the issuance of fines for building without proper permits. These fines can escalate significantly depending on the extent of the violation and may ultimately outweigh the cost of obtaining a permit initially.

In addition to financial penalties, ignoring a deck permit can also lead to delays and complications in the construction process. If city inspectors discover unpermitted construction, they may halt the project until the necessary permits are obtained, causing delays and potentially increasing overall project costs. This disruption can affect not only the timeline but also the budget and overall feasibility of the project, particularly for renovations or expansions.

Deck Permit Requirements in Other MA Cities

Expanding beyond Cambridge, other cities in Massachusetts, such as Boston, also enforce stringent regulations and permit requirements for deck construction projects. The process generally involves submitting detailed plans, securing approvals, and complying with local ordinances to safeguard both property owners and the community at large. While specific requirements may vary slightly from one municipality to another, the overarching goal remains consistent: ensuring safety, adherence to building codes, and structural integrity.


Navigating the intricacies of deck construction in Cambridge, MA, requires a keen understanding of the essential permits and regulations. From securing the necessary approvals to adhering to building codes, each step plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety and legality of your project. By following the comprehensive guide outlined here, homeowners and contractors alike can embark on their deck construction endeavors with confidence, knowing they have fulfilled all necessary requirements.

For expert guidance on your deck-building project, we at Dexksos offer expert guidance every step of the way. Let us transform your vision into reality seamlessly and efficiently. Contact us today for a free project estimate.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts

Wood vs. Composite Decks: The Ultimate Guide

Wood Decking: The Classic Choice for Warmth and Natural Beauty Wooden decking has been a favored choice for decades, offering a natural, warm aesthetic that enhances the outdoor living space. Made from various types of wood, it brings a classic

Read More »

Your Essential Guide to Deck Permit in Cambridge, MA

Understanding Deck Permit in Cambridge, MA Constructing a deck can be an exciting addition to any home, providing a space for outdoor relaxation and entertainment. However, before breaking ground on your new deck construction project in Cambridge, MA, it’s crucial

Read More »
Scroll to Top