Inspectional Services

Inspectional Services Department

Update 4/2/2020

Redefining "Essential" Construction

The City of Newton has taken a series of actions to limit the spread of COVID-19. These measures have impacted our schools, City operations, public buildings and spaces, and businesses, including construction

Our decisions have been guided by the input of professional public health experts at both the state and City level and State guidelines.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has developed an “Essential Services” list as part of the March 23 Emergency Order and refined it over the past week. It lists in great detail which businesses and organizations are essential and can continue operations during the emergency. 

Last week, Governor Baker issued orders that included all construction as essential services and outlined specific public health guidelines to be followed for work sites to remain open.

This week, I was pleased that the Commonwealth narrowed the list of construction projects considered essential.

Essential construction includes only work in residences, businesses and buildings that are required to support COVID-19 response, essential public works facilities, operations and infrastructure, and housing construction that ensures additional units that combat the Commonwealth’s housing supply shortage. Also allowed to continue are energy efficiency projects, and building maintenance work by specialists (e.g. plumbing, electrical) if necessary, to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences and businesses.

After consulting with health experts, the City of Newton has adopted the Commonwealth’s new guidelines for all construction projects in the City, both public and private. Construction can only continue in Newton if it meets the criteria of essential and also complies with the strict social distancing, hand hygiene, employee health protections, and site risk prevention measures included in the state guidelines.

Projects like kitchen remodels and additions are no longer considered essential and therefore shall immediately stop in accordance with the state’s guidance.

The City’s Inspectional Services Department (ISD) will continue permitting projects but will not allow non-essential projects to get started or to be continued. If a project is at a particularly difficult or dangerous point to stop, and it can continue with public health measures in compliance with the state guidelines, contractors may request permission to continue from ISD, but only for the purposes of ensuring the job site is safe and secure.

We are actively requiring compliance with the public health Construction Guidelines for essential construction projects. We are providing all permitted construction with the guidelines. We are also following up on all complaints, doing unannounced visits to job sites, and routine inspections. In all of these situations, we are doing compliance inspections.

The City of Newton is committed to ensuring the safety and health of City employees providing inspections and supervision of construction and we have instituted strict employee safety protocols.

The state guidance document that Newton requires for construction sites and workers during the COVID-19 emergency period can be found online here.

Enforcement of the COVID-19 Safety Guidelines

and Procedures for Construction Sites

COVID-19 Order No. 13, as revised and extended on March 31, 2020, requires the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance to “issue guidance and enforcement procedures for the safe operation of public works construction sites.” The safety guidance is attached as “COVID-19 Guidelines and Procedures for All Construction Sites and Workers at All Public Works Sites” (hereinafter, the COVID-19 Construction Safety Guidance) and is posted online and may be revised from time to time. This document contains the required enforcement procedures, which shall be followed by all state agencies and authorities who undertake, manage or fund construction projects and may be used by each city or town for ensuring the safety of both publicly- and privately-owned construction projects.

All Projects: Construction sites that cannot consistently comply with the COVID-19 Construction Safety Guidance , including ensuring that social distancing and safety requirements are being followed, must:

  • Safely secure the site and pause construction activities until a corrective action plan is prepared, submitted and approved by both the Owner and the city or town; or
  • Close down the site for the duration of the State of Emergency if repeatedly found by either the Owner’s COVID-19 Officer or a state or local inspector (including a third-party private inspector accountable to a city or town) to be in violation of the social distancing and safety requirements.

A city or town may additionally require the Owner to develop and submit a site-specific risk analysis and enhanced COVID-19 safety plan. The city or town shall review and approve such plan and may require such projects to pause construction until such a risk analysis and plan is submitted and approved. Once such an enhanced COVID-19 safety plan is approved, a violation of the plan shall be treated the same as a violation of the COVID-19 Construction Safety Guidance.

A site-specific COVID-19 Officer (who may also be the Health and Safety Officer) shall be designated for every site.

The approved project Health and Safety Plan (HASP) shall be modified to require that the Contractor’s site-specific project COVID-19 Officer submit a written daily report to the Owner’s Representative. The COVID-19 Officer shall certify that the contractor and all subcontractors are in full compliance with the COVID-19 Construction Safety Guidance.

Public Projects: For all projects undertaken, managed or funded by a state agency or authority there shall be joint enforcement responsibility between the project’s public Owner and the city or town where the project is located.

  • The Owner of the project has the lead responsibility for compliance and enforcement including frequent on-site inspections by an employee or contractor of the state agency or authority who is familiar with the COVID-19 Construction Safety Guidance and is authorized to enforce that guidance and shut down work at the site if violations are found.
  • The Owner of the project is required to notify the municipality where the work is taking place whenever a site is shut down or of any violations of the COVID-19 Construction Safety Guidance and the resulting corrective action plan, as well as to provide copies of the COVID-19 Officer’s written daily reports upon request.
  • While the public Owner has the lead responsibility for enforcement, cities and towns retain the authority to take enforcement action against public projects found not in compliance with theCOVID-19 Construction Safety Guidance , including the authority to order the project to shut down until a corrective action plan is developed, approved and implemented.

Private Projects: For all private projects the primary enforcement responsibility rests with the city or town, with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and other state agencies providing technical assistance and resource support.

  • Cities and towns are authorized to enforce the COVID-19 Construction Safety Guidance using their public health staff, building inspectors or any other appropriate official or contractor.
  • Cities and towns may enforce the safety and distance protocols including requiring the Owner and/or Contractor to safely secure the site and pause construction activities until a corrective action plan is prepared, submitted and approved by the city or town.

The city or town may require the Owner of a private project to pay for an independent, third party inspector or inspection firm (or to pay into a pool to pay for such inspections). The third party inspector shall be accountable solely to the city or town and shall be responsible for enforcement on behalf of the city or town. A city or town may require private projects to pause construction until such a third-party inspector has been secured.

Any questions about these enforcement procedures or the accompanying Guidance can be directed to:

For MassDOT, Michael McGrath, Assistant Administrator for Construction Engineering,

michael.a.mcgrath@state.ma.us

For DCAMM, Jay Mitchell, Deputy Commissioner, Jayson.mitchell@mass.gov

 

Supplemental Guidelines for Construction Sites

ADDENDUM 1 Limiting Exposures and Worker Infection Protocol

COVID-19 Employee Health, protection, guidance and prevention

Limiting Exposures

Workers should follow the General On-the-Job Guidance to Prevent Exposure & Limit the Transmission of the Virus of the COVID-19 Employee Health, protection, guidance and prevention guide.

In addition, Contractors should advise workers pf best practice to limit exposures off the construction site.

When leaving a construction site for breaks, lunch, or other reasons are required to wash hands with soap for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol before leaving the site and must maintain social distancing if traveling to other locations off the construction site. Frequent use of handwashing or alcohol-based hand sanitizers should be encouraged and handwashing facilities and/or alcohol-based hand sanitizers should be made readily available at work sites.

Worker Infection Protocol

As provided in the guidance document, there is a zero tolerance for sick workers reporting to work. Employees should be instructed that even those with mild symptoms of respiratory infection (cough, shortness of breath, sore throat) or fever should stay off work. Contractors shall take immediate steps to limit infections at the job site in the event that a worker discovered to have tested positive for COVID-19 or has COVID-19 related symptoms.

Although it is understood that contractors are enforcing Work Site Risk Prevention Practices including social distancing rules and use of PPE, consistent with guidelines it is also recognized that there may be occasions where someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who has COVID-19 symptoms has been present in a work area..

Prompt identification and isolation of potentially infectious individuals is a critical step in protecting workers, vendors, visitors, and others at a worksite.

IDENTIFICATION OF EXPOSURE

The Contractor shall direct workers with COVID-19 related symptoms to leave the jobsite immediately and contact their healthcare provider. The Massachusetts Department of Health (DPH) or a local board of health will make appropriate notifications to those who had direct prolonged contact with the COVID-19 positive workers.

The Contractor shall work with the local board of health to identify any potential jobsite exposures, including :

  • Other workers , vendors, inspectors, or visitors to the work site with close contact to the individual
  • Work areas such as supply cabinets and designated work stations or rooms
  • Work tools and equipment
  • Common areas such as break rooms and tables, vending machines, and sanitary facilities

NOTIFICATION AND QUARANTINE REQUIREMENTS

As provided by law, the identity of the worker must be kept confidential.

Upon learning of an infection, the contractor must immediately notify the designated COVID-19 safety officer, the site safety officer, and the owner.

SANITIZATION REQUIREMENTS

Contractor shall take immediate steps to sanitize common areas and direct work places. This includes all on-site bathrooms facilities, any break facilities, and any other common areas on the job site that may have been in close contact with the infected worker.

Sanitation will be conducted with personnel, equipment, and material approved for COVID-19 sanitization.

Identified areas should remain isolated from workers until sanitation process has been completed and area is deemed safe for use.

RETURNING TO WORK

All impacted workers should follow CDC and DPH recommended steps concerning return to work. Workers who are considered close contacts to a COVID19 case by public health authorities should not return for 14 days and are subject quarantine by public health.

Workers who leave during the work day due to COVID-19 symptoms and develop COVID-19 as confirmed by laboratory testing or diagnosis by a healthcare provider shall not return to the site until either released from isolation by healthcare provider or public health.

IN ALL CASES

Keep all employee names confidential as required by law.

Other employees may be sent home while a workspace is being cleaned but will return to work after cleaning unless advised otherwise by a health care provider. Other employees should be asked to contact their health provider if they have any questions Remind other employees to continue to practice proper sanitation and monitor for flu like symptoms.

SPECIAL NOTICE

Doing Business with Inspectional Services During COVID-19 Emergency

Ways to apply for permits while City Hall is closed to the public.

All forms needed to apply for any type of building, electrical, plumbing and gas permits are available on the City Website.  For Building permits click here.  For electrical, plumbing and gas permits click here.

You may apply for permits in 3 ways:

  1. You can fill in all the necessary forms (they are fillable) and submit them by email to ISD@newtonma.gov

  2. You can fill in all fillable forms, print them out and mail them to:

City of Newton - ISD

1000 Commonwealth Avenue
Newton, MA 02459

3) You can fill in all fillable forms, print them out and drop them in the drop box at the front entry to Newton City Hall. Please be sure to address your envelope to ISD.

4) For complicated projects that require more information and/or additional review, you should call the ISD office (617) 796-1060 and talk to the Plan Reviewer or Commissioner. It can be worked out with them as to how you can get the information you need to complete your application.

As you go through the following steps, it is encouraged that you call and review your application with ISD before submitting it for review. Ask for the inspector of the district in which the project will be taking place. Mistakes or omissions will cause your application to be delayed unnecessarily. Please ask!

Inspections Protocol

Call for inspections as usual. Inspections will be scheduled under the following priorities and conditions:

1) Essential facilities, i.e. hospitals, health care facilities, other essential services.

2) Commercial projects that are empty of members of the public.

3) Open Air inspections that do not involve entering enclosed spaces, i.e. roofs, windows, siding, porches, decks, etc.

4) Vacant or unoccupied residential buildings, i.e. under construction, gut rehab, no one in residence at the moment.

5) All other situations: An inspection may be able to be scheduled if certain protocols are met, i.e. at the time of the inspection there is no one other than the contractor present and the contractor is aware of “social distancing” practices.

Understand that inspectors have been instructed that, if these situations are not as they are represented during the scheduling phone call, the inspection will not take place and you will be charged for a re-inspection.

UPDATE MARCH 26, 2020

The City of Newton is adopting the Commonwealth’s “COVID-19 Guidelines and Procedures for All Construction Sites and Workers At All Public Work” for all construction projects in the City, both public and private. Construction can only continue with strict social distancing, hand hygiene, employee health protections, and site risk prevention measures in the Governor’s guidelines.

Attached is the state guidance document that Newton now requires for construction sites and workers during the COVID-19 emergency period.

 

What are your alternatives to in-person transactions?

  • Currently we are not doing in-person transactions.  At this time, we are asking everyone to submit all applications and questions via email to appropriate party (see list below) or email to isd@newtonma.gov and we will forward along to the appropriate party.

Departmental City cell phone and extension listing:

Name

Office

E-mail

John Lojek, Commissioner

617-796-1064

jlojek@newtonma.gov

Anthony Ciccariello, Deputy Commissioner

617-796-1078

aciccariello@newtonma.gov

Deb Finamore, Exec Administrator

617-796-1061

dfinamore@newtonma.gov

Kristen Patten, Office Info Coordinator

617-796-1079

kpatten@newtonma.gov

 

 

 

Building Inspectors:

 

 

Al Gifford

617-796-1066

agifford@newtonma.gov

Buddy Lamplough

617-796-1069

clamplough@newtonma.gov

Paul Gilbert

617-796-1088

pgilbert@newtonma.gov

Paul Nelson

617-796-1068

pnelson@newtonma.gov

Jeff Johnson

617-796-1067

jjohnson@newtonma.gov

 

 

 

Electrical Inspectors:

 

 

Billy McDonald

617-796-1077

bmcdonald@newtonma.gov

Dave Cerone

617-796-1074

dcerone@newtonma.gov

John McGourty

617-796-1087

jmcgourty@newtonma.gov

 

 

 

Plumbing & Gas Inspectors:

 

 

Paul Cammisaro

617-796-1081

pcammisaro@newtonma.gov

Jim Lally

617-796-1130

jlally@newtonma.gov

Don Ivester

617-796-1073

divester@newtonma.gov

 

 

 

Counter Support:

 

 

Robert Barnacle

617-796-1126

rbarnacle@newtonma.gov

Caroline O’Leary

617-796-1076

coleary@newtonma.gov

 

  • Residents/contractors at this time have to email or call whoever they are looking to speak with.  No in-person meetings are occurring at this time.

  • What happens if resident/contractor does not have the ability to perform an on-line transaction?  There is a secure mailbox in front of City Hall’s main entrance that an envelope with all required documents can be placed in.  The envelope should clearly state ISD on the front.

  • Are you prepared to handle the increased phone calls that will come to your staff?  Yes, our staff is working diligently to field all calls.

  • For questions on electrical or plumbing and gas permits please email Kristen Patten at kpatten@newtonma.gov.

  • For Code Enforcement questions or complaints please email Deb Finamore at dfinamore@newtonma.gov.

  • For questions about Short Term Rentals please email John Lojek at jlojek@newtonma.gov.

  • For questions about plans previously dropped off for review please email Anthony Ciccariello at aciccariello@newtonma.gov.

 

 Mailing Address                                   Department                                       Head           Office Hours

Newton City Hall

Room 202, 2nd Floor

1000 Commonwealth Ave

Newton, MA 02459

John Lojek, Commissioner

617-796-1060

617-796-1086 (FAX)                                   

Please Note: Permits can only be issued 8:00am-4:00pm Monday thru Friday or as staff is available

 

Monday: 7:00am - 5:00pm

 

Tuesday: 7:00am- 8:00pm

 

Wednesday-Friday: 7:00am- 5:00pm

 

 

 

 In addition to the daily schedule, all Building Inspectors have office hours: 7:00am - 9:00am.  Electrical and Plumbing/Gas Inspectors have office hours: 7:00am - 8:00 am, 3:00pm - 4:00pm.

Plumbing, Gas and Electrical permits can be issued between 8:00am - 4:00pm, as long as staff is available.

The Inspectional Services Department (ISD) is responsible for insuring that buildings are constructed safely and used properly.  ISD enforces the provisions of the state building code, city zoning ordinance (Chapter 30 - Zoning Ordinance), and other applicable ordinances.  ISD issues permits to allow the construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, and demolition of buildings and structures, as well as the installation of equipment and the location, use and occupancy of all buildings, structures and land.

Useful Documents and Resources:

Home Energy Rating System Index Report (HERS Rating)

Historic: Request for Demolition Review Application

Historic: Local District Review Application

Planning and Development Resources: Applications, Forms, and Brochures

Online Permit History Look-up

Online Permit History Lookup-Step-by-Step Instructions

Floor Area Ratio Worksheet & Calculator

Newton GIS Browser

City Ordinances

Tips and FAQ's

Can I file for a permit online or by email?

  • No, at this time we do not have online permitting and we do not accept permits by email.  You can bring your completed application into Inspectional Services and a permit will be issued over the counter (as long as the staff person is available). You can mail a completed plumbing, gas, or electrical application to receive your permit.

What are the allowable construction hours?

  • Construction activity must comply with the city's noise ordinance. In general, construction noise may be generated only during the hours listed below. Refer to Newton revised ordinances 2012, Sec 20-13 for additional details and restrictions.
    • Monday-Friday                    7AM - 7PM
    • Saturday                               8AM - 7PM
    • Sundays & Holidays            Not permitted except by permit approved by the Mayor

Upcoming Events and Resources

City Clerk-Electronic Posting Board

Land Use Committee - Special Permits

Planning and Development - High Interest Projects

Commission on Disability

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