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Familiarize Yourself with Nantucket’s Construction Аnd Building Permits
November 02, 2022
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Nantucket is an island in the state of Massachusetts, about 30 miles from the mainland. It is a tourist hotspot, especially in summer. It has impressive scenes punctuated with a breathtaking environment and unique architecture.

Looking at its attributes, it is no surprise that one might want to get into its real estate scene. You can have a summer home on this island or venture into the business side of homeownership.

Before beginning this journey, it is important to know about Nantucket’s construction regulations. You should have some permits before your dream of owning real estate on this island becomes a reality.

We will introduce you to the necessities the Nantucket building department laid out.

A Contractor and an Architect to Map the Way Forward

The first step in getting your plans up is to contact an architect and contractor familiar with the island’s construction scene. Nantucket’s weather and soil vary highly from the mainland and affect the construction conditions.

Additionally, you have to factor in the transportation of the materials and personnel, as most live off the island. The contractors and architects ensure you have a sturdy project that can withstand saline water, strong winds, and other weather elements.

Know Nantucket’s Local Zoning Regulations

You have to know about the zoning regulations of this island to guide you on construction and expansion. You will realize that the zoning rules vary depending on the area. For instance, some rules that apply in the Residential Old Historic (ROH) zone do not apply in the Sconset Old Historic (SOH) zone.

You can get a map or diagram to guide you on the rules, indicating the area or construction.

The ground cover refers to your building’s footprint and accounts for enclosed constructions. This means building extensions like patios, pools, and decks are not a factor in the ground cover calculations.

Talking about pools, you cannot have one if you want to construct in ROH and SOH zones. Should you consider having a second dwelling, its footprint must be 20% smaller than the main building.

Also, you have to know about the lot sizes in the different zones in Nantucket. As per the Nantucket building department’s regulation, the lots in the ROH zone should be at least 5000 square feet in area.

The zoning rules change regularly, meaning you have to check on the updates to be on the right side of the regulations.

Permits from the Health Department

The next step is complying with Nantucket’s health department. It involves checking out a lot of items from a list before you get the permit. You start by deciding if you want your building to be connected to the town water and sewage system if available. If not available in your area, you may consider sinking a well or having a septic tank.

Connection to the town water and sewage system is more manageable and affordable, meaning you should go for this choice if the line is proximal to your property. If you go with the well-drilling and septic tank installation option, you must abide by the set rule governing their construction.

In some areas, like the Watershed Protection Districts, you have to install Innovative Alternative septic tank systems. The requirements vary from one location to another; hence, you have to consult the concerned authority before making a move.

There is a separate sewer system permit that you will need depending on the type of property you are constructing. Seek guidance to know how to get all the necessities in order.

An Approval from the Historic District Commission

The Historic District Commission is in charge of several elements of Nantucket that ensure the architectural integrity of the island is in excellent shape. As you know, Nantucket has a strong historical significance dating back to colonial times. The island’s buildings and other structures are like open, unhidden gems from the past.

If you have a construction project in this region, you should seek approval from the Historic District Commission. It is a rigorous process, and it may come in the way of your dream of owning real estate. The architect in charge of your project must be conversant with the terms of the commission.

That is why it is essential to bank on a designer with experience in creating plans for the island. If they do an excellent job, your design will get approved, saving you from the extra costs of redesigning.

Like most of the regulations you must keep up with, they may vary according to location. Among the things that the commission approves are the door and window styling, paint job, and more.

You will present a filled-in and signed application form, application fee, locus map, site plan, and photographs of any alterations made to a building. When submitting your proposal to the committee, be ready for at least one round of revisions.

The entire process takes an average of two months. It may be longer or shorter as per the situation at hand. The permit you get from the Historic District Commission is valid for two years upon approval.

Get a Building Permit

You are ready to start construction when you get a building permit. You need approval at all stages mentioned above to get this necessary authorization. Highlighted below are some of the requirements when applying for a building permit.

  • A completed application form.
  • A registered plot plan.
  • A copy of the contractor’s license.
  • Homeowner exemption form if you do not have a contractor.
  • Approved septic permit.
  • Approved sewer entry permit.
  • Energy calculation form.
  • Subdivision lot release form.

These are a handful of the requirements. Your contractor can advise on more that you need. Approval from the Historic District Commission is a must-have and one of the final steps before getting the permit.

You pick the permit application from the building department to start the process. A general contractor can collect the permit and proceed with the paperwork. An incomplete application where any item is missing will be returned.

The permit should be ready in 2-3 weeks if all goes well.

Final Word

Construction on the Massachusetts island of Nantucket differs from that of the mainland. You need to have an experienced team to pull through with the construction work. As you can see, you need several permits before laying your foundation.

It would help if you had an advisor to guide you through some of the steps, especially when getting approval from the Historic District Commission. Get all the documentation in order and see your plans come to life!