Merrimack projects at home may require permit

Spring is here and homeowners may be eyeing an empty space in the back yard and visualizing there a deck, a patio, a pool or a shed. Resist the urge to pick up hammer and nails and whack away in hopes of having the job finished by the weekend.

There are building permits and codes to be considered. The Merrimack Fire and Rescue Department’s Building Division is the place to go for help with permits. The division is concerned with fire codes, building codes and the inspections of new projects.

The building division’s section of the website of the Merrimack Fire and Rescue Department,, offers links to the current codes for many types of projects. There is guidance for small jobs and large ones. There are free downloads if a printed copy of any of hundreds of codes is desired.

The website also has a wealth of information related to fire codes and standards as offered by the National Fire Protection Association, an authority on fire, electrical and building safety. Some of the offerings are beyond the scope of projects contemplated by the home-based do-it-yourself person but the texts make for interesting reading.

According to a town of Merrimack Monthly Building Permit Report, also available on the fire department’s website, there have been issued 33 permits in January, 28 permits in February and 56 permits in March. The increase in March may be a good predictor that spring projects are on the rise.

A final inspection is required by the Merrimack Fire Department for all permits upon the completion of construction work. Fire Chief Michael P. Currier, Building Official Fred T. Kelley and Building Inspector Richard C. Jones are charged with the duty to finalize the inspection.

Frequently asked questions are addressed in a section on the website. The common questions are well worth a look when considering almost any spring building project. The list also notes what projects do not require permits.

Residents are informed there that a permit may take as little as two to five days to obtain. They are counseled that a pair of plans or drawings should be provided. They are told that a permit for a shed less than 12-feet square does not require a permit. Nevertheless, adding electricity for lighting or heat does require a permit when building a shed. A comprehensive explanation of what does or does not require a permit surely makes for increased peace of mind.

Jones, who has around two decades of experience in the building industry, said it is advisable to check out the website and download an application.

“You can have the application in hand and stop in, or call and we can direct you on how to apply for a permit,” Jones said. “If it’s a deck you want to build, the deck placement would be considered as to the property line and factors such as the materials to be used. If everything suits the code, the permit is given. We’re there to verify that what is built meets the New Hampshire state building code.”

Jones said nobody should be afraid to come in and ask about getting a permit. A proper permit, he said, ensures safety and also protects a person when the house is sold, for the new owner is assured that the work was done properly.

“There is definitely a right thing to do,” Jones said. “We know these standards work. They protect your property, your neighborhood – and you.”

Other advice on doing spring projects properly is added by Dan Brown, owner of Brown’s Village Depot, 454 Daniel Webster Highway. The store, located opposite CVS, is well stocked with a variety of handy items ranging from tools to tarps. Brown and his son, Matthew, 6, sometimes tackle together various projects at home. Brown notes that upon securing a proper permit, one of the most important things to consider in any project is safety. Wear safety glasses and gloves. Clean up spills. Stay hydrated. Watch out for ticks.

For more information call the Merrimack Fire and Rescue Department’s Building and Code Enforcement Division, 432 Daniel Webster Highway, at 420-1730 or visit