When is a building permit needed for residential (1- and 2-family dwellings) construction work?

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For residential (1- and 2-family dwellings) projects, a building permit is generally required whenever an owner or authorized agent intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing system, the installation of which is regulated by the New Hampshire State Building Code, or to cause any such work to be done, unless the work falls within the following exceptions:

Building: 

1. One-story detached accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 200 square feet (18.58 m2). 

2. Fences not over 6 feet (1829 mm) high. 

3. Retaining walls that are not over 4 feet (1219 mm) in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge. 

4. Water tanks supported directly upon grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons (18 927 L) and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2 to 1. 

5. Sidewalks and driveways. However, a driveway permit may be required.

6. Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, counter tops and similar finish work. 

7. Prefabricated swimming pools that are less than 24 inches (610 mm) deep. 

8. Swings and other playground equipment. 

9. Window awnings supported by an exterior wall which do not project more than 54 inches (1372 mm) from the exterior wall and do not require additional support. 

10. Decks not exceeding 200 square feet (18.58 m2) in area, that are not more than 30 inches (762 mm) above grade at any point, are not attached to a dwelling and do not serve the exit door required by Section R311.4. 

Electrical: 

1. Listed cord-and-plug connected temporary decorative lighting. 

2. Reinstallation of attachment plug receptacles but not the outlets therefor. 

3. Replacement of branch circuit overcurrent devices of the required capacity in the same location. 

4. Electrical wiring, devices, appliances, apparatus or equipment operating at less than 25 volts and not capable of supplying more than 50 watts of energy. 

5. Minor repair work, including the replacement of lamps or the connection of approved portable electrical equipment to approved permanently installed receptacles. 

Gas: 

1. Portable heating, cooking or clothes drying appliances. 

2. Replacement of any minor part that does not alter approval of equipment or make such equipment unsafe. 

3. Portable-fuel-cell appliances that are not connected to a fixed piping system and are not interconnected to a power grid. 

Mechanical: 

1. Portable heating appliances. 

2. Portable ventilation appliances. 

3. Portable cooling units. 

4. Steam, hot- or chilled-water piping within any heating or cooling equipment regulated by this code. 

5. Replacement of any minor part that does not alter approval of equipment or make such equipment unsafe. 

6. Portable evaporative coolers. 

7. Self-contained refrigeration systems containing 10 pounds (4.54 kg) or less of refrigerant or that are actuated by motors of 1 horsepower (746 W) or less. 

8. Portable-fuel-cell appliances that are not connected to a fixed piping system and are not interconnected to a power grid. 

Plumbing: 

1. The stopping of leaks in drains, water, soil, waste or vent pipe; provided, however, that if any concealed trap, drainpipe, water, soil, waste or vent pipe becomes defective and it becomes necessary to remove and replace the same with new material, such work shall be considered as new work and a building permit shall be obtained and inspection made as provided in the building code. 

2. The clearing of stoppages or the repairing of leaks in pipes, valves or fixtures, and the removal and reinstallation of water closets, provided such repairs do not involve or require the replacement or rearrangement of valves, pipes or fixtures.

Please note that exemptions from permit requirements of the NH State Building Code shall not be deemed to grant authorization for any work to be done in any manner in violation of the provisions of this code or any other laws or ordinances of this jurisdiction, including but not limited to the Town of Salem Municipal Code and the Town of Salem Zoning Ordinance.