Do I need a permit if I build a deck/porch/garage/etc., the same size and in the same location as the one I am replacing?
This constitutes reconstruction as opposed to a repair and since the Building Code regulates all new building components, a building permit is required.
How much does a building permit cost?
That depends on the project you plan to undertake. Use this link to bring you to a downloadable page of all city fees. http://www.sacomaine.org/archives/fees.pdf
If you do not see a corresponding fee for the project you are undertaking, contact us and we will be make a determination.
What other permits may I need before I start my project?
That depends on where you are located in the City and what the project is. Some other permits that may be required can involve review by the Department of Environmental Protection, especially if you are planning to work around the ocean or near rivers or streams, the Saco River Corridor Commission if you are working within 500 feet of the Saco River or its tributaries, Site Plan or Conditional Use Permit review for specially listed projects, Historic Preservation review if the project is within the Historic Zone and meets certain criteria, State Fire Marshall’s permits for special commercial projects or installation of any fire protection sprinkler system, or the Zoning Board if the project does not meet the minimum setbacks or other requirements of space and bulk found in the zoning ordinance.
These reviews can substantially delay a project so call us early to find out if any of these apply to your plans.
How is my property zoned?
It depends on where the property is located. The City of Saco has 23 different zoning districts and 3 overlay districts ranging from low density residential to heavy industrial. To access the zoning map, use this link:
http://cms.revize.com/revize/saco/zoning-full%20Map%2004%2006%202015.pdf. If you still cannot determine your zoning district, contact us and we will be happy to assist you.
Is my property within a floodplain?
It depends where the property is located. The Code Enforcement Department maintains the official Flood Insurance Rate Maps that illustrate where special flood hazard areas are located. Use the following link to view the flood maps: https://webapps2.cgis-solutions.com/saco/flood/
Where do I measure setbacks?
Always measure setbacks from property lines and not street lines. In many instances, a survey may be required to determine exactly where these property lines are on the face of the earth.
When should I call for an inspection?
For septic system installations, a minimum of three inspections is required. The first is to inspect the soil below the leach field, whether the leach field is made of stone or a proprietary device such as Infiltrators ®. The second inspection is when the stone bed and pipe or proprietary device is installed and the final inspection is when the system is covered and grass has begun to grow over the system.
For buildings, an inspection is required before backfilling any foundation wall, to inspect the framing before any insulation and interior wallboard is installed and final inspection, usually when the work is completed. For new structures or changes in the use of a building, a Certificate of Occupancy must be issued before moving into a building.
For plumbing, any pipe that will be buried in the ground, either outside or inside requires an inspection. All plumbing installed in the building is required to be inspected. Before calling for an inspection, make sure that an air or water test is on and that it stays on until the inspection is completed.
For electrical, all new wiring must be inspected before it is covered over. All new electrical service panels or upgraded panels need to be inspected before CMP will turn on the power. If wire is installed in a trench for underground service, it must also be inspected before backfilling. Any new wiring in a building must be inspected before any insulation is installed. A final inspection of the electrical system is required before moving into a new home.
How much lead-time is needed for an inspection?
Generally, an inspection can be scheduled if giving a 24-hour notice, and sometimes even the same day, but to assure an inspection when needed, a longer lead-time is recommended.
Do I need a license to perform electrical or plumbing installations?
The owner of a single-family owner-occupied dwelling may perform all electrical and plumbing work without a license within his or her own dwelling unit. All appropriate permits must be obtained and all work must be performed in compliance with the applicable codes. All work is required to be inspected by the Code Enforcement Office.
Only an appropriately licensed electrician or plumber may perform installations in multi-family dwellings, commercial and industrial properties and in any speculation or non-owner occupied residential construction.
What is an "egress window"?
An egress window is a window that is required by State and local codes to be installed in all habitable rooms in new construction. When installing a single or double-hung window, the area is measured in the opening when the bottom sash is open to its fullest extent. When installing a casement type window, the measurement is taken when the window is completely open to its greatest extent and measured from the side to the pivot point of the window and then from top to bottom. The measurement must equal at least 5.7 square feet of open area (if using inches, divide by 144 to get the square foot measurement). There are also minimum dimensions for width (20 inches), height (24 inches) and maximum height from floor to the bottom sill (44 inches). Removable or “tilt-out” sashes are not permitted if a single sash does not meet the area requirement of 5.7 square feet.
How high must a guardrail be?
In One and Two family residences, a guardrail must be at least 36 inches high above the floor with balusters places so that no space is larger than 4 inches. Guards are required for any deck that is over 30 inches above the ground at any point. In all other construction, guardrails must be at least 42 inches high
What size must stairways be?
For one and two family residences, the minimum width for a stairway must be 3 feet. The minimum height clearance must be at least 6 feet 8 inches at all points measured vertically above the tread. Treads must be 10 inches deep, measured from nosing to nosing (if you have a one inch nosing, your tread will need to be 11 inches). The maximum rise of a stair cannot exceed 7-3/4 inches. This applies to all stairs in the house including cellar stairs. Commercial construction has special width requirements, but treads must be at least 11 inches and risers cannot be more than 7 inches high.
How high must handrails be and how do I measure them?
In all construction, handrails must be graspable (not a 2 by 4), usually 1 - to 2 inches in cross section and mounted securely to the wall at a height of between 34 to 38 inches measured vertically from the nosing of the treads. Ends of the handrails must be returned to the wall. In one and two family buildings, handrails must be mounted on one side; for all other construction, handrails are required on both sides.
What about smoke detectors?
All smoke detectors in new construction must be “hard wired” (connected to the electrical system in the house) with battery back-up and located within 10 feet of any sleeping area, inside each sleeping area, and on each floor level including basements. All smoke detectors must be inter-connected. Smoke detectors or, in the alternative, heat detectors must be installed in all new attached garages. Existing homes must have at least one smoke detector adjacent to and in the immediate vicinity of all sleeping areas and on each level, including basements. These detectors can be either “hard wired” or battery operated.
Do I need a "fire wall" between my garage and my house?
There are requirements for construction of garages and they are different if the garage is adjacent to the living space or if there is living area located above the garage. If the garage abuts the house on only one side, that wall must have a minimum of 1/2-inch gypsum applied to the garage side of the wall from the top of the foundation wall to the underside of the roof rafters. All the seams in the gypsum must be taped and sealed. The door between the garage and the house needs to be a 20-minute rated door, (usually a steel insulated door, but always check with the manufacturer) and have no glass in it. If there is living space above the garage, the ceiling and walls must be constructed of at least 1-hour fire resistive construction.
I'm having a chimney built. What do I look for?
All chimneys need to be constructed to the standards found in the National Fire Protection Associations’ publication NFPA 211. When hiring a contractor to build a masonry chimney, the contractor must provide you with a statement listing the past three jobs he or she has done and that he or she is familiar with the rules of NFPA 211. If they look confused when you mention NFPA 211 or the statement, look elsewhere for a mason.
Can I subdivide or split my property?
It depends on how the property is zoned. Each zoning classification has minimum lot frontage, depth and size requirements. A lot may also be part of a previously approved subdivision, in which case an amended plan must be submitted and approved by the City's Planning Board. Previous divisions also play a role in if a lot can be further divided. We suggest you contact us to review possible lot divisions.
Can I build on a private road?
Yes, the City of Saco still allows private roads, but they are strictly regulated. There are now minimum design standards and a review of the plan to construct a new private road or improve an existing one. This can delay a project’s start date so if you plan to utilize a private road to meet the frontage requirements of the zoning ordinance, plan ahead.
What types of businesses can I operate on my property?
Every property in the City of Saco falls into a zoning district. Each district has a list of uses that are appropriate to that particular zoning classification. The Zoning Ordinance outlines "permitted uses" that are allowed by right and uses that may be acceptable but require Planning Board review. These are called "conditional uses." Any use not listed in either of these categories is not permitted in that zoning district.
I own (or operate) a food establishment in Saco and understand that there is a new Food Service Code adopted by the State. Where can I get a copy of these new rules and regulations?
The Food Code is available from the State of Maine website: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/environmental-health/el/index.htm or can be ordered from Health Inspections Program, Division of Environmental Health, Key Plaza Building 286 Water Street 3rd Floor, 11 State House Station, Augusta ME 04333-0011. You can obtain more information by calling them at (207) 287-5671.