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Digest of the statutes relating to the inspection and constrution of buildings in the city of Boston, 1886 online

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/ Jerkin J^vt^rc of TSamJI/AmiuI,

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18 8 6.



geparhncut f#r %nsptttioxx #f Ipiiilclvugs,

Inspector, at" Biulomcfs.

JOHN S. DAMRELL 47 Hancock Street.

Clerk of I3cpartment.

CHARLES S. DAMRELL 47 Hancock Street.

Assistant Inspectors.

MICHAEL W. FITZSIMMONS 12 Worthington Street.

WILLIAM FRYE 8 Quincy Street.

HARTFORD DAVENPORT . . . Hancock Street, near Columbia Street.

GEORGE W. GRIFFIN 40 Pearl Street.

LEVI W. SHAW 73 Chandler Street.

MARTIN T. GLYNN 8 Gates Street.

JOHN KELLEY ......... 96 Bunker Hill Street.

JAMES J. BARRY 374 Centre Street.

NAHfrM M. MORRISON 1 Morrison Street.

JAMES H. COLLINS 45 Laurel Street.

WILLIAM J. BURKE 78 Everett Street.

THOMAS A. SLATER . .28 Northfield Street.

MATTHEW WALSH 22 Concord Street.

MICHAEL H. HARTNETT 693 Dudley Street.

WILLIAM B. BOTHAMLY '312 Columbia Street.

JOHN MARLEY 8 Seneca Street.

Office, Old State -House, State Street.

Office Hours


From 9 A.M. to 5 P.M.
From 9 A.M. to 2 P.M.







Section 1. There shall be in the city of Boston a depart-
ment, to be called the Department for the Inspection of Build-
ings, which shall be furnished, at the expense of the city, with
office room and such supplies for the transaction of its business
as the city council may provide. The compensation of its offi-
cers shall be provided for by said city by ordinance.

Sect. 2. The chief officer of said department shall be called Title of chief
the inspector of buildings, and shall be appointed by the mayor te r m of office.
and confirmed by the board of aldermen. He shall hold office
for the term of three years, or until his successor shall be
appointed and confirmed ; but may be removed by the mayor
for malfeasance, incapacity, or neglect of duty.

Sect. 3. The other officers of said department shall consist other officers.
of a clerk, and such number of assistant-inspectors as the city
council may, from time to time, by ordinance determine ; all
of whom shall be appointed by the inspector, with the approval
of the mayor, and shall hold office during good behavior ; but
may be removed by the inspector, with the approval of the
mayor, for malfeasance, incapacity, or neglect of duty.

Sect. 4. The inspector and assistant-inspectors of the dc- Qualifications.
partment shall be able and experienced architects, builders, or
mechanics, and shall not be employed or engaged in any other


Duties of tbe


business, or be interested in any contract for building or for
furnishing materials.

Sect. 5. All said officers may, as far as necessary for the
performance of their duties, enter any building or premises in
the city of Boston.

Sect. 6. The inspector shall keep a record of the business
of said department ; submit to the city council a yearly report
of such business ; ascertain all facts and make all returns which
shall be required by law relative to steam-boilers ; and enter
upon the premises wherein any fire has occurred, if necessary,
in order to investigate the origin of the fire ; may require plans
and specifications of any proposed erection or alteration of any
building ; and shall grant permits for such erection or altera-
tion, when in conformity with the requirements of this act.

Sect. 7. Should the owner of any building object to any
order or decision of said inspector, on a matter left by this act
to his approval or control, and choose a referee to serve as
hereinafter provided, within three days after being notified of
such order or decision, the matter shall be referred to three
referees, who shall be either architects or master-builders, one
chosen by the inspector, one by the owner, and a third by these
two ; and the decision thereon in writing of these referees, or
a majority of them, shall be final and conclusive.
Duties of clerk. Sect. 8. The clerk shall, under the direction of the in-
spector, have supervision and direction of the other officers and
employes of the department.

Sect. 9. The assistant-inspectors of buildings shall attend
all fires occurring in the districts to which they are respectively
assigned, and report to the chief or assistant engineer of the
fire department, present all information they may have relative
to the construction and condition of the premises on fire, and
also any such information relating to the adjoining buildings.

Sect. 10. The inspector, or his assistants, shall examine'
all buildings in the course of erection or alteration, as often as
practicable, and make a record of all violations of this act,
with the sti'eet and number where such violations are found,
the names of the owner, architect, and master-mechanics, and
all other-matters relative thereto.

Duties of



Sect. 11. The inspector, or his assistants, shall examine all
buildings reported dangerous, or damaged by fire or accident,
and make a record of such examinations, including the nature
and amount of such damage, with the name of the street and
number of the building, the names of owner and occupant and
for what purpose occupied, and, in case of fire, the probable
origin thereof; examine all buildings for which applications
have been made to raise, enlarge, alter, or build upon, and
make a record of the same. Said records shall always be open
to the inspection of the engineers of the fire department or any
officer of the city.

Sect. 12. In the absence of the inspector, one of the as- When deputy
sistant-inspectors may be appointed by him to act as his deputy, ™ a p 0ir] e ted .
who shall exercise all the powers of the inspector.

Sect. 13. No work except necessary repairs shall be done Permits, when
upon any wall, structure, or building in said Boston without a requilC0
permit from said inspector of buildings, nor except in con-
formity with the provisions of this act.

Sect. 14. The inspector of buildings shall designate, in Grade of hase-
every permit for the erection of a new building, the lowest
grade at which the floor of the basement story of said building
shall be laid.

Sect. 15. The said inspector shall not give a permit for the Piausand
erection of any building until he has carefully inspected the t0 be a p in . ved.
plans and specifications thereof, ascertained that the building
has sufficient strength, and that the means of ingress and egress
are sufficient. A copy of plans and specifications of every
public building shall be deposited in the office of the inspector.

Sect. 16. Every wall, structure, and building hereafter Exemptions,
built or altered in said city shall conform to the provisions of
this act, so far as they are applicable, except bridges, quays,
Avharves, and buildings belonging to the government of the
United States or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Sect. 17. In this act the following terms shall have the Definitions.
meanings respectively assigned to them: —

"Alteration" means any change or addition except necessary
repairs in, to, or upon any building, afleeting an external,


party, or partition wall, chimney, floor, or stair-way, and "to
alter" means to make such change or addition.

" Brick building " means a building; the walls of which are
built of brick, stone, iron, or other substantial and incombusti-
ble materials.

" Cellar " means a basement or lower story of any building
of which one-half or more of the height from the floor to the
ceiling is below the level of the street adjoining.

" External wall " means every outer wall or vertical enclos-
ure of a building other than a party wall.

" Foundation " means that portion of a wall below the level
of the street curb, and, where the wall is not on a street, that
portion of the wall below the level of the highest ground next
to the wall.

" Inspector " means the inspector of buildings of the city of

" Lodging-house " means a building in which persons are
temporarily accommodated with sleeping apartments, and in-
cludes hotels.

" Partition wall " means any interior wall of masonry in a

" Party wall " means every wall used, or built in order to be
used, as a separation of two or more buildings.

"Public building" means every building used as a church,
chapel, or other place of public worship ; also every building
used as a college, school, public hall, hospital, theatre, public
concert-room, public ball-room, public lecture-room, or for any
public assemblage.

" Tenement-house " means a building which, or any portion
of which, is to be occupied, or is occupied, as a dwelling by
more than three families living independently of one another,
and doing their cooking upon the premises ; or by more than
two families above the second floor, so living and cooking.

" Wooden building " means a wooden or frame building.

Sect. 18. The height of a wall means the height from the
mean grade of the sidewalk or adjoining ground to the highest
point of the wall.


Sect. 19. The thickness of a wall means the minimum
thickness of such wall.

Sect. 20. The city council of said city may by ordinance Clty counci1

J ' - 1 may make

make such requirements, in addition to those contained in this regulations for

. , ,..-.. , . -. wooden build-

act, as the)- may deem expedient in relation to the erection and i ngsout side
alteration of wooden buildings outside the building limits. limits -

Sect. 21. The city may from time to time, by ordinance, Woodenbuild -

ings allowed in

extend and establish building-limits in said city, and within buiiding-iimits.
those limits every building built after such establishment shall
be of brick, stone, iron, or other substantial and incombustible
material, and only the following wooden buildings shall be
allowed, viz. : Sheds not exceeding twenty-seven feet in height,
on wharves, to be used for any lawful purpose ; sheds of same
height, in all parts of said limits, to be used for market pur-
poses or to facilitate the building of authorized buildings ; and
elevators of any height for the storage of coal and grain ; all
external parts of which sheds and elevators shall be covered
with incombustible material, and the materials used, the mode
of construction, and the location shall be approved by the in-

Sect. 22. Any wooden building within said limits may be Wooden \ uiId -

•i ~ J mgs may be

altered or repaired in any manner approved by the inspector, repaired, etc.
provided neither its area nor height is increased.

Sect. 23. No wooden building within or without the build- Mov ' ng of

" wooden

ing-limits shall be moved to any lot within said limits where it buildings.
would be in violation of law to build such wooden building.

Sect. 24. In all calculations for the strength of materials Calculation for

° strength of

to be used in any building, the proportion between the safe materials.
weight and the breaking- weight shall be as one to three, for
all beams, girders, and other pieces subjected to a cross strain ;
and as one to six for all posts, columns, and other vertical sup-
port, and for all tie-rods, tie-beams, and other pieces subjected
to a tensile strain ; and the requisite dimensions of each piece
of material are to be ascertained by computation by the rules
given by the best authorities, using for constants in the rules
only such numbers as have been deduced from experiments on
materials of like kind with that proposed to be used. All
mortar and cement shall be of the best quality for the purposes
for which they are applied, and shall be properly mixed.





External and
party walls of
tenement and
lodging houses
to be of brick,

to be laid

below frost.

Sect. 25. No building now or hereafter built shall be
altered until it has been examined and approved by the in-
spector as being in a good and safe condition to be altered as
proposed, and the alteration so made shall conform to the pro-
visions of this act.

Sect. 26. No wall of any building now erected, or here-
after to be built or erected, shall be cut off or altered, without
a permit so to do having been first obtained from the inspector.
Every temporary support placed under any structure, wall,
girder, beam, or column during the erection, finishing, alter-
ing, or repairing of any building, or part thereof, shall be
equal in strength to the permanent support required for such
construction. And the walls and roof of every building shall
be strongly braced from the beams of each story until all the
bearing parts of the construction are completed, unless omitted
by consent of inspector.

Sect. 27. No bay-window or other structure shall be
placed upon'any building so as to project over any public way
or square, without the permission of the board of aldermen,
given after due notice and hearing, and then only in such
manner as shall be approved by the inspector.

Sect. 28. In the erection or alteration of any building the
material of which, in whole or in part, is other than brick,
stone, or wood, the thickness of walls, of such material, and the
method of construction shall be such as the inspector shall

Sect. 29. All buildings in said city, to be used for tene-
ment-houses or lodging-houses, and all buildings for any pur-
pose within the building limits, except as provided in sections
twenty and twenty-one, shall have external and party walls of
brick, stone, iron, or other substantial and incombustible mate-
rial, and shall be subject to all the requirements for a " brick
building," except as otherwise expressly stated.

Sect. 30. Every brick building hereafter built in said city
shall be built upon a foundation resting not less than four feet
below the surface exposed to frost, upon the solid ground, or
levelled surfaces of solid rock, or upon piles, concrete, or other
solid substructure.


Sect. 31. Whenever any excavation, in the city of Boston, Excavations.
is to be carried to the depth of more than ten feet below the
grade of street, and there shall be any wall or structure wholly
or partly on adjoining land, or near the intended excavation,
the party causing such excavation to be made, if afforded the
necessary permission to enter on such adjoining land, shall at
all times, from the commencement until the completion of such
excavation, at his own expense, preserve such wall or structure
from injury, and so support the same by proper foundations
that it shall remain as stable as before the excavation was com-
menced. Should the person making such excavation fail to
protect said wall or structure from injury for twenty-four hours
after being notified by the inspector of buildings so to do, the
inspector may enter upon said premises and employ such labor,
and furnish such materials, and take such steps, as in his judg-
ment may be necessary to make said wall or structure safe and
secure ; and any person or persons doing said work, or any
part thereof, by the order and direction of the inspector, may
bring and maintain an action against the party causing such
excavation to be made for the value of such work. The party
causing such excavation to be made may recover compensation
from the adjoining owner in case such adjoining owner should,
at any time thereafter, make any use of said foundations below
said ten feet below grade.

Sect. 32. Piles driven for a wall to rest upon shall be not Piling. See
less than five inches in diameter at the smallest end, and shall pae
be spaced not more than three feet on centres, in the direction
of the length of the wall, and nearer if required by the in-
spector ; they shall be driven to a solid bearing, to be ascer-
tained by boring, at the expense of the owner, when required
by the inspector. The inspector shall determine the grade at
which piles shall be cut off.

Sect. 33. Walls not exceeding twenty feet in height, where ruing,
piling is necessary, may rest on a single row of piles, if deemed
advisable by the inspector ; walls exceeding twenty feet in
height shall rest on not less than two rows of piles. Extra
piles shall be driven where required by the inspector.

Sect. 34. For brick buildings exceeding thirty-five feet in SeePfotei.




See Plate 2.

See Plate 3.


See Plate 4.

See Plate 5.

height there shall be under all foundation walls, piers, col-
umns, posts and pillars resting on the earth, a footing or base
course of stone or concrete, which, if under a foundation wall,
shall be not less than twelve inches wider than the bottom
width of said wall, and not less than twelve inches thick ; and
if under piers, columns, posts, and pillars, shall be of stone,
and not less than twelve inches wider on all sides than the bot-
tom area of said piers, columns, posts, and pillars, and shall be
not less than two feet by three feet in area by twelve inches
in thickness, and when laid to be thoroughly bedded in cement.
If the walls rest on isolated piers, then there must be under
such piers, footings, at least sixteen inches thick, thoroughly
bedded in cement. All piles shall be capped with block-
granite levellers, each stone to have a firm bearing on at least
one pile in each row.

Sect. 35. Foundation walls of brick buildings, other than
dwelling, tenement, or lodging houses, shall be constructed of
block stone, laid in horizontal courses, with good bed and
build surfaces, wedged with slate stone and laid in cement
mortar, and eight inches thicker than the external or party
wall immediately above and over the same ; if said foundation is
to be set to a depth of more than fifteen feet below the grade
of the street, for each and every five feet additional depth
greater than fifteen feet below the grade of street it shall be
increased four inches in thickness. Foundations of such build-
ings not more than forty feet in height may be built of rubble-
work laid in cement and sand mortar, if the thickness of the
foundation walls is one-fourth greater than given for block
stone, and laid as specified in section thirty-six. In case of
severe thrust or pressure on said walls, from any cause, there
shall be such extra strengthening of said walls by thickening
or by buttresses, or both, as the inspector may approve.

Sect. 36. Foundation walls of brick buildings to be used
as dwelling, tenement, or lodging houses, not exceeding thirty-
five feet in height, if laid with block stone in horizontal courses,
shall be not less than eighteen inches thick, or, if in brick
laid in cement, shall be not less than sixteen inches thick ;
exceeding thirty-five and not exceeding sixty feet in height,

Crrac/e. /6 . <S "

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■ Section 35. —

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LocUj(pz<j JCouses : no7'e/ceecCc7io 35. o" high.

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&)Lcvulutcj 35 \o] not tfceeoUrtg 6o.o\ai height


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plate: 5.


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ypcuzctcttUnz walls , Dwillavg, Jbzejnaiti'
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the foundations shall be not less than twenty-four inches thick, Foundations.
if laid in block stone in horizontal courses ; if in brick laid in
cement not less than twenty inches thick ; for every fifteen feet
additional height the thickness of foundations shall be increased
four inches ; if the walls do not exceed seventy-five feet in
height the foundation walls may be built of uncoursed rubble-
work laid in cement mortar ; but in all cases the thickness shall See Plate 6 -
be one-fourth greater than that given for block stone, and the
work shall be thoroughly bonded, and, at least, two-thirds of
the bulk of the wall shall be through stones, and no round or
boulder stones shall be used ; provided, that when such walls
are laid on piles the lower course shall be block stone, not less
than sixteen inches in height.

Sect. 37. All brick walls and buttresses shall be of me r- Wallsand


chantable, Avell-shaped bricks, well laid and bedded, with well-
filled joints, in lime or cement mortar, and well flushed up at
every course with mortar ; and all brick used during the warm
months shall be well wet at the time they are laid, and shall be
dry at the time they are laid during the cold months.

Sect. 38. All walls of brick, stone, or other similar mate- WalIs - how


rial shall be thoroughly and practically bonded and tied, and
solidly put together; shall be built to a line, plumb and
straight, and laid with mortar or cement, and all supports of
the same shall be of iron, brick, or stone, and of sufficient
size and strength to safely support the superstructure.

Sect. 39. Vaulted walls of the same thickness, independent vaulted walls,
of withes, may be used instead of solid walls, and the walls
on either side of air space shall be not less than eight inches
thick, and tied together perpendicularly with continuous withes
of hard-burned brick, of good quality, or other approved mate-
rial, which shall be not more than three feet apart, and the air
space shall be smoothly plastered.

Sect. 40. Where a wall is finished with a stone cornice the Stone coruice -

greatest weight of material of such cornice shall be on the in-
to ©

side of the face of the wall, so that the cornice shall firmly
balance upon the wall.

Sect. 41. Every ninth course at least of a brick wall shall Headingor

^ _ _ bonding

be a heading or bonding course, except where walls arc faced courses.



Party walls
above roof.

See Plate 7.

Roof and floor

See Plate 8.

See Plate 9.

External and
party walls.

See Plate 10.

See Plate 11.

See Plate 12.

See Plate 13.

External walls.

with face-brick, in which every ninth course shall be bonded
with Flemish headers or by cutting the course of the face-brick
and putting in diagonal headers behind the same.

Sect. 42. Every party wall shall be built through, and at
least twelve inches above or distant from, the roof boarding,
at every part of the roof; shall be entirely covered with metal
securely fastened, and corbelled to the outer edge of all pro-
jections ; or a gutter stone of suitable dimensions and properly
balanced may be inserted in place of the corbelling. But
where the walls extend thirty-six inches above the adjoining

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Online LibraryBoston (Mass.)Digest of the statutes relating to the inspection and constrution of buildings in the city of Boston, 1886 → online text (page 1 of 7)