Building Inspection

There are few examples of shared inspection services in Massachusetts. The oldest example is the Franklin Cooperative Inspection Program, which was established in 1975 and merged with the Franklin Regional Council of Governments in 2004. Other towns have signed intermunicipal agreements to share services. Many states outside Massachusetts (and New England) rely on regional building inspection services.

Municipalities can share building inspection and code enforcement services to curtail costs and to provide otherwise unavailable professional services. These two major goals can be achieved by two or more towns working together through inter-municipal agreements, or through participation in a stand-alone program.

Major benefits of sharing building inspection services include:

  • Trained professional and certified inspectors and
  • Cost savings.

Other possible benefits include:

  • Increased ability to educate inspectors and the public;
  • Ability to form strong relationships with relevant state boards; committees, and inspectors to help resolve complex legal NS technical issues;
  • Establishment of uniform code enforcement throughout the area or between two municipalities;
  • Assurance that contractors have appropriate licensing, and
  • Full-time staff.

Statutory Requirements

Massachusetts has two main statutory requirements regarding building inspection and code enforcement: M.G.L. c. 143, §§ 93-100 (Inspection and Regulation of, and Licenses for, Buildings, Elevators and Cinematographs) and 780 CMR (Massachusetts State Building Code).

The Board of Building Regulations and Standards exists within the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety. The Board comprises 11 members and derives its authority to adopt regulations, administer provisions of the state building code and operate various construction related programs from M.G.L. c. 143, §§ 93-100.

Types of Agreements

There are no regional or shared service agreements particular to inspections service. Inter-municipal agreements are the primary type of agreement used to share inspection services in Massachusetts.

The Franklin County Inspection Program has used District Local Technical assistance (DLTA) state funding to assist in implementing an online permitting system for their program.

Resources 

  • Feasibility Study of a Certified Regional Code Enforcement/Local Plumbing Inspector Program. Feasibility study contracted by the Town of Limestone, Maine. Study
  • Enhanced Regionalization and Merger Analysis: Towns of Hamilton and Wenham, Massachusetts. Analysis by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue Division of Local Services, including a section on sharing inspection services.

Appendix

Franklin Regional Council of Governments, Franklin County Cooperative Inspection Program website page

Shared inspection Service in Massachusetts

Franklin County Cooperative Inspection Program
Originally formed in 1975, the FCCIP merged with the Franklin Regional Council of Governments in 2004. FCCIP has intermunicipal agreements with 14 towns in Franklin County. FCCIP assesses partner towns based on an agreed upon assessment formula. FCCIP enforces Massachusetts building code regulations, inspects public buildings, and handles local zoning enforcement.

Towns of Westborough & Ashland
The two towns signed an inter-municipal agreement in which Westborough is providing contracted services to Ashland. The agreement was negotiated and signed due to budgetary concerns and the desire for better use of resources. The process was facilitated by the two town managers.

Towns of West Boylston & Sterling
The towns have signed an inter-municipal agreement in which West Boylston serves as the host agency. The agreement has been in place since 2008. West Boylston facilitated the process. The agreement was signed due to budgetary concerns and the need for qualified personnel.