Town of Bedford
24 North Amherst Road, Bedford, NH
ph: (603) 472-5242
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: When do I need to obtain a building permit?
A: Taken directly from the Building Code: Section 105.1 Required: Any owner or authorized agent who 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 this code, or to cause any such work to be done, shall first make application to the building official and obtain the required permit.

Examples of work that require permits:

  •  Renovating rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms
  •   Additions of any size.
  •   Enlarging existing structures, rooms or spaces.
  •   Creating new rooms or spaces within a structure.
  •   Structural changes or repairs.
  •   Non-structural modifications (removing non-bearing walls).
  •   Dormers.
  •   Demolition of all or part of a structure.
  •   Changing exits or exit components in any way.
  •   New structures including sheds, gazebos, pools (above and below  ground), decks, garages, carports, tents, awnings, etc.
  •   Above or below grade flammable and combustible liquid tank removal or  installation.
  •   Fire protection system work (See Chapter 9).
  •   Changes in Use or Occupancy
  •  New heating plant (including replacement)
It should be noted and clarified the language in the above code section does not say nor does it intend to imply that only structural work needs permits. The codes also pertain to several facets of the non-structural parts of a building/structure. 

Q: Do I need to obtain a building permit if I’m “just” repairing my house?
A: Taken directly from the Building Code: Section 105.2.2 Repairs:  Application or notice to the building official is not required for ordinary repairs to structures, replacement of lamps or the connection of approved portable electrical equipment to approved permanently installed receptacles. Such repairs shall not include the cutting away of any wall, partition or portion thereof, the removal or cutting of any structural beam or load-bearing support, or the removal or change of any required means of egress, or rearrangement of parts of a structure affecting the egress requirements; nor shall ordinary repairs include addition to, alteration of, replacement or relocation of any water supply, sewer, drainage, drain leader, gas, soil, waste, vent or similar piping, electric wiring or mechanical or other work affecting public health or general safety. 

Examples of work, which may be classified as repairs:

  •  Painting or wallpapering
  •   Repairing floors or carpets
  •   Repairing interior trim
  •   Repairing cabinets or countertops  
  •   Repairing windows, doors or siding  
  •   Repairing masonry or roofing material
  •  Replacing an existing electrical receptacle.
  •  Replacing an existing light fixture.  
  •   Replacing a sink, water closet, or bathing fixture in the same location.
  •  Installing replacement windows into existing window openings.
In general, for a work element to be considered a repair or replacement, the item, which is being repaired, must already exist. The above items are intended to represent individual replacement or repair work. Repair and rebuild are not interchangeable terms!!!!!!
Caution:  Repairs or renovations made to the exterior facade of structures in the Historic District shall require Historic District    Commission approval.


·          Fences not over 6’ in height
·          Swings and other playground equipment
·          Sidewalks and patios
·          Retaining walls not over 6’ in height unless supporting a surcharge. 

Q: How do I obtain a Building Permit?
A: Building permit applications are available from the front desk in the Building Department or here on the website. In addition to a completed application for each project there are specific requirements for information needed to process permit applications.

The department handbook has a complete list of documentation required for new 1 & 2 family dwellings and for non-residential structures. Most residential projects do not require sealed structural plans provided the plans comply with the prescriptive requirements of the code. It is up to the code official to determine when engineered plans are required. Plumbing, mechanical and electrical plans are required on a case-by-case basis.

Permit submissions for other types of structures are not as complex and the documents required are as follows:

FOR SHEDS: you need to supply a plot plan (see example) & a framing plan (if you have a brochure for a pre-built shed please submit a copy of the brochure).

FOR SWIMMING POOLS: you need to supply a plot plan showing the pool location, the location of your septic system (if applicable) and the specifications for your pool as to shell construction and if there will be a heater and the fuel source for the heater.

FOR DECKS: you need to supply a plot plan showing the deck location and a framing plan for the deck.

FOR ADDITIONS: you need to supply a plot plan showing the new addition as well as the existing structure, framing plans, floor plans with the intended use of each room clearly marked, energy code compliance forms completely filled out and if the addition is being used to relocate an existing bedroom you need to supply floor plans for the dwelling before the addition and after with all rooms labeled as to their use.

FOR REMODELS: you need to supply before and after floor plans and details for any structural framing modifications to be made.

FOR OTHER STRUCTURES (detached garages, large storage buildings, pool cabanas, etc.): you will need to supply a plot plan showing the location of the new structure, framing plans, floor plans with rooms labeled as to their use and energy code compliance if the building is to be heated with electricity or fossil fuels.


Q: How long does it take to get a Building Permit?
A: That depends.... The staff makes every effort to approve plans as quickly as possible; many factors enter into the length of time a permit application takes. Accuracy and completeness of information have a major affect on application review time, as well as the fluctuations in the seasonal workload.  Permit applications with incomplete or missing information will only delay the approval process.  Good project planning is the best way to assure your permit will be ready when you are.  Permit applications are valid for six (6) months so there are no restrictions against applying for a permit months in advance of your project.  Since permit fees are not due until the permit is actually issued your only cost in applying is your time.
Electrical, plumbing and mechanical permits are issued “over the counter” if the work is not part of a project that requires a building permit.  When a building permit is required for a project the accompanying systems permits will not be issued until the building permit has been issued.

Q: When do I have to go to the Historic District Commission (HDC)?
A: Only projects which lay within the Historic District Zoning Areas and which involve new construction or additions to existing structures and any changes that affect the exterior of a building or property features. For the full text of the HDC regulations click here.

Q: How do I know if my property is in the Historic District?
A: To see a map of the Historic District click here.


A: The structure setback requirements for residential building lots are:





Front* (public way)













*  This dimension is not from the edge of the pavement but from the edge of the right-of-way for the road.  Contact the Department of Public Works to find the width of the right-of-way for the road you are referencing.

NOTE:  The above dimensions will cover all building lots located in residential zones with the exception of The Mews and Village Green.  Please contact the building or zoning departments for the special requirements for these two communities. 

Q: What is a stucture?
A:  Per Article 45-2 of the Zoning Ordinance a structure is defined as - "A combination of materials for occupancy or use, such as a building, bridge, trestle, tower, framework, tank, tunnel, tent, platform, shelter, pier, wharf, bin, sign, fences and retaining walls over six feet (6') in height, swimming pools, sports courts, or the like."

Q: Is a Homeowner allowed to do electric work?
A:  Homeowners are allowed to do electric work in their primary residence.  Unlicensed individuals are not allowed to do electrical work on property, which they do not own or they are not actually living in.

Q: Is a Homeowner allowed to do plumbing?
A:  Homeowners are allowed to perform minor plumbing repairs such as repairing faucets, replacing showerheads, install new sinks in old locations or similar repairs. If the work involves installing new DWVand or potable water piping for new locations a licensed plumber is required to perform the work.  Work on hydronic heating systems is not considered plumbing for our purposes.      
* Drain, Waste & Vent

Q: Do I need a permit for a shed on blocks?
A:   Yes a permit is required because sheds that sit on blocks or floating slabs are considered structures even though they do not have a "permanent" foundation.   Sheds larger than two hundred square feet (200 sq.ft.) in area must have supports that extend below the frost line for our part of the country (48"). 

Q: Do I need a swimming pool permit?
A:   All pools (including inflatable) that are 24" or more in depth require permits.  All in-ground and pre-fabricated above ground pools are required to have a standard pool permit (includes building and electric permit) and inflatable pools must have an electrical permit. Pool enclosures must comply with these guidelines: Pool Fence Requirements

Q: Where are my Septic Plans?
A: Records for your property are kept in the property files at the assesor's office on North Amherst Road.  Approved septic plans were not required by New Hampshire until the mid 1970's.  If there are any records of those early approved systems your only chance of finding them would be to request a search of the records kept by the NH DES (click this link to their website).
You need to look at your property file and see if it contains a copy of the original septic plan or if the system has been updated or changed from the original design.  If your sytem has been repaired by way of "in-kind" permit then a copy of that permit will be in the file.  If you have been told it has been replaced or repaired and there is no record in the file of the repair or replacement, the department will not verify this unless supporting documentation can be provided to the town.

Q: I don't see an answer to my question now what?
A:   If your specific question has not been answered or if you have suggestions for addtional questions send it to: 

If you are still unsure if a permit is needed please contact one of the building inspectors and they will help you determine if a permit is required.  Please understand our only concern is the work being performed complies with all local and state regulations.  Codes are minimum standards for work. If there are no inspections you run the risk of the work not even complying with the minimum standards.