Building Officials

(according to the Dept. of Public Safety website)

Who enforces the State Building Code (code) on behalf of the Commonwealth?

The Commonwealth employs approximately 14 state building inspectors who enforce provisions of the code for state owned and/or operated buildings. Municipal inspectors (employed by each city or town) enforce the code relative to all other buildings in their municipality.

What are the qualifications for municipal building officials?

Minimum qualifications for building inspectors may be found in M.G.L. c. 143 § 3. The General Law defines two categories for municipal building officials. The inspector of buildings (or building commissioner) is the lead person in a municipal building department. All other inspectors are deemed to be local inspectors.

Who is in charge of building inspectors?

Municipal building inspectors report directly to the public body that appointed them.  State building inspectors report to the Commissioner of the Department. M.G.L. c. 143, §3.

The Municipal Building Department inspector cannot be reached or refuses to inspect, causing me hardship.  Who can I contact?

Please call your Town Manager or other appointing official.

I have not received a response from the appointing official for the municipal building inspector.   Who else can I contact?

You may send a written complaint to the Department of Public Safety.   Please address your complaint to Rob Anderson, BBRS Deputy Administrator. 

There is no building inspector in our town, what should I do?

First, notify your Town Manager. It is a requirement in Massachusetts that each city and town have an inspector. M.G.L. c. 143, §3. 

What experience is required to become a building inspector?

By law, each inspector of buildings or building commissioner must have five years or more of experience in the supervision of building construction or design, or a four year undergraduate degree in a field related to building construction or design, or equivalent experience and education as determined by the Board. Inspectors must also have a general knowledge of the quality and strength of building materials, and a general knowledge of accepted requirements for building construction, fire prevention, light, ventilation, safe exits and other requirements of the building code.

Each local inspector must have five years or more of experience in the supervision of building construction or design, or a two year associate degree in a field related to building construction or design, or equivalent experience and education as determined by the Board. Local inspectors also must have a general knowledge of the quality and strength of building materials, and a general knowledge of the accepted requirements for building construction, fire prevention, light, ventilation and safe exits; and a general knowledge of other equipment and materials essential for safety, comfort, and convenience of the occupants of a building or structure. M.G.L. c. 143, §3.

What are the qualifications for state building officials?

Qualifications for state building inspectors are determined by the Commissioner for the Department of Public Safety. Although not required to do so, the commissioner may use provisions of M.G.L. c 143 § 3 as the model for determining qualifications of state building inspectors.

Are there other requirements for local and state building officials?

Yes. In addition to meeting the minimum qualifications defined by the general law, municipal inspectors must be certified by the BBRS. The BBRS uses an established, national certification program called the National Certification Program for Construction Code Inspectors (NCPCCI). NCPCCI comprises of code organizations and various state agencies.  NCPCCI uses various exams to demonstrate competency for building officials.   Local inspectors must pass several exams administered by a private administrator, Thomas Prometric.  These exams are listed below.

In order to ensure that only qualified candidates sit for building official certification examinations, candidates must submit their qualifications to the BBRS’s Building Official Certification Committee for review and approval prior to taking any examination.  Any candidate who takes an exam without such approval may be required to forfeit his\her passing results.  A qualification review form and instructions on how to file a review may be accessed here.

Local Inspector’s are required to achieve passing scores on the following exams:

  • Exam 1A: One-and Two-Family Dwelling General Exam
  • Exam 1B: Building General
  • Exam 3B: Fire Protection General

Inspectors of Buildings/Building Commissioners are required to pass the same NCPCCI exams as the local inspectors. In addition, Inspectors of Buildings/Building Commissioners must pass the Certified Building Official Examination (CBO) as recognized by the International Code Council. The CBO consists of the following two modules:

  • Technology Module
  • Legal/Managerial Module

Please note that the building official certification exams are based on the International Codes and references standard, not our own state code. The International Codes are used to provide a uniform test. The philosophy is that if you can read and apply the international code, you can read and apply the state code. Be cautioned that there are differences between the codes, so do not bring the Massachusetts Code to the Certification Exam. 

What is the format of the exams and how are they offered?

Each exam and/or module is an open book test, and covers the international codes and references standards. The exams are computer based and are offered at the convenience of the test taker. All tests are offered by private administrators; this office does not have an exam facility. Following successful completion of exam requirements, a candidate applies to the BBRS for certification.

Are there study courses available for the exams?

Periodically, the BBRS will offer courses designed to assist individuals through the examination process. Interested parties may inquire about upcoming study courses by calling the BBRS, or may access information from the main page of this website. Study guides are also available for most of the exams through the private administrators.

Does a person need to be certified prior to employment as a municipal building official?

No. A person may be appointed by a municipality as long as he or she meets the minimum qualifications defined by M.G.L. c. 143, § 3. The person has 18 months after his or her appointment to become certified.  Once appointed to a position, a municipal building official is required to forward a New Employee Report Form to the BBRS.  The form attests, under pains and penalties of perjury, that the appointing authority in the city or town has reviewed the qualifications of the appointed official, and that the appointed official meets or exceeds the minimum qualifications set out in M.G.L. c. 143, §3.  A copy of the New Employee Report Form may be obtained from this website.

Once the BBRS receives a New Employee Report Form, the Board creates a file for the newly appointed official. The file establishes the beginning of the 18 month period in which the official must become certified. The file is also used to track all future activity relating to the official’s certification status.

What if the building official fails to complete the required examinations in the allotted period?

It is the responsibility of the building official to complete the examinations and acquire certification. If the official is unable to complete the process within 18 months of  appointment, he or she may request an extension.  All extensions are reviewed by the Building Official Certification Committee. The Committee is authorized by the BBRS to carry out all functions relating to certification of building officials. The Committee meets monthly to review extension requests and attend to other business items.

Are there continuing education requirements for certified building officials?

Yes. Certified building code enforcement officials must attain at least 45 hours of approved continuing education within each three year period following initial certification. The Building Official Certification Committee reviews and approves education courses each month. A list of approved courses and instructions on how to file for consideration of course approval are available on this website.

Do State Building Inspectors have to be certified?

No.  Requirements for state building inspectors differ from the requirements for municipal inspectors. Although not required, many current state building inspectors have attained certification through the examination process. As long as the inspector maintains continuing education credits, he or she remains current in the program. All state inspectors are afforded emeritus certificates by virtue of their position.  They receive this certificate regardless of whether they have taken the local inspector examinations. However, this emeritus certificate is the property of the Commonwealth, and not the individual. Therefore, if a state inspector should choose to leave service with the Commonwealth and seek employment with a municipality, he or she must attain certification through the examination process.