Knowledge Base

Building An Addition, Garage, Shed, Deck or Pool

What do I need to do to put an addition onto my house, install a pool, shed, deck or garage?

You will need a building permit and a zoning permit to build or install these improvements to your property. You, your architect, or contractor must submit plans to the Building Department. These plans should be drawn to scale and show where the structure will be built on the property and any other features that are present, including existing buildings, driveways, well and septic system and any stream or wetland that may exist.

Where can I get such a plan?

If you don’t have a plot plan in your records you may be able to get one from the Building Department which has a file on every address in town that has a building on it, especially if it was built in the last 30 years. You can draw to scale where your improvement will be built. An architect or surveyor can also prepare these. 

For a simple project like a shed, deck, or pool, a scale drawing showing the improvement in relation to the house, street and property lines may be sufficient. But if the structure is close to the property lines, a formal plan may be required.

What are the zoning requirements for my lot?

Each property is located in a zoning district that sets standards for setbacks from property lines, building height and the percentage of the lot that can be covered by buildings and impervious surfaces. Setbacks determine the distance from your front, rear, and side property lines that must be kept clear from construction. An impervious surface is a surface like pavement or a roof that doesn’t absorb water. 

A quick reference sheet is attached to this FAQ. The zoning regulations can also be found on the Town website: Click “Departments”, then “Land Use”, and scroll down to the link for “Zoning Regulations”. You may also call the Zoning Enforcement Officer (ZEO) for assistance at (860) 693-7892.

What happens after I submit my plans?

The Building Official and ZEO will review your plans for compliance with the building code and zoning regulations. The ZEO will also visit your property to assure that it complies with the regulations. You should stake or spray paint on the ground where the corners of the structure will be in order to assist the ZEO in determining compliance. 

If the plans comply with both the building code and the zoning regulations, the building and zoning permits will be signed and you can begin work. This process usually takes a few days depending on the backlog of applications that are awaiting review. During and after construction, you can expect the building official and ZEO to make periodic visits to ensure that the construction is consistent with the approved plans.

What if my plans don’t comply with the zoning regulations?

While you should make every effort to comply with the standards, there may be something about your property that prevents compliance. Your lot may be oddly shaped, or have extreme topographic conditions like a steep slope or some other characteristic. In such a case, you may apply to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance. The Board will conduct a public hearing to determine whether a valid hardship exists that prevents you from utilizing your property.

What is a hardship?

A hardship is something unique about your property that constrains your use of it. It must be related to the land such as topography or odd dimensions. The hardship can’t be financially related, for example, saving money by building in a way that doesn’t comply with the regulations wouldn’t be considered a valid hardship. The hardship also can’t be self-imposed. If, for example, you sold part of your property to your neighbor and now you can’t comply, it would be considered a self-imposed situation.

What other regulations should I be aware of?

There may be wetlands or watercourses on your property. If you plan to build within 100 feet of such a resource, you will need to apply for a wetlands permit. The Authorized Agent will be able to assist you in those situations at (860) 693-7892.

If you have a well and septic system you should contact the Farmington Valley Health District at (860) 352-2333 to make sure that your plans don’t conflict with the proper operation of those facilities. 
Updated 5/18/2016 12:36 PM
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