Massachusetts Roofing Codes For Residential + Commercial Roof Replacement

If you’re a Bostonian considering replacing your roof, you’ll need to know not only the city’s roofing codes, but the roofing codes for the state of Massachusetts.

What is the Massachusetts State Building Code (780 CMR)?

Massachusetts building code is governed by 9th Edition of the Massachusetts State Building Code (MSBC) 780 CMR. There are two volumes to the Massachusetts’ state building code; residential code and base code.

frontal view of the massachusetts state building capitol with it's golden dome, american flag, and state of massachusetts flag waving out front

Residential Massachusetts Building Code (9th Edition)

The first volume covers all residential homes and structures that are one and two family units. According to, the residential volume of the building code also includes “townhouses that are three stories or less, as well as their accessory structures.”

Base Massachusetts Building Code (9th Edition)

The second volume of the Mass Building Code, known as the “Base Volume” encompasses all properties not included in the residential volume. Some examples include remodeling projects for apartment buildings and triple deckers in the city of Boston.

International Code Council Influence

The 9th edition of MASB is heavily influenced and based upon code by the International Code Council, which includes the following codes:

  • The International Building Code (IBC);
  • International Residential Code (IRC);
  • International Existing Building Code (IEBC);
  • International Mechanical Code (IMC);
  • International Energy Conservation Code (IECC);
  • International Swimming Pool and Spa Code (ISPSC); and
  • Portions of the International Fire Code (IFC).

Understanding Massachusetts Roofing Code

The Massachusetts Building Code 780 CMR’s roofing chapters establish minimum requirements for the construction and repair of roofs in the state of Massachusetts. Boston roofing projects are included in these state-wide regulations.

Residential Roof Code

There are two relevant sections for residential roofing; roof ceiling construction and roof assemblies.

Roof Ceiling Construction (Chapter 8 – Residential)

The roof ceiling construction chapter regulates the way roofs are structurally installed so structural integrity is maintained. Roofing codes included in this chapter are:

  • Loads
  • Roof drainage
  • Wood roof framing
  • Roof sheathing
  • Cold-formed steel roof framing
  • Ceiling finishes
  • Roof ventilation
  • Attic access

Roof Assemblies (Chapter 9 – Residential)

The roof assemblies chapter governs the “design, materials, construction, and quality of roof assemblies.” The Massachusetts roof codes included in this chapter are:

  • Fire classification
  • Weather protection
  • Materials
  • Requirements for roof coverings
  • Roof insulation
  • Rooftop-mounted photovoltaic systems
  • Reroofing
  • Rooftop-mounted photovoltaic panel systems

If you’re wondering about regulations for roofing in Massachusetts, you may also want to consider chapter 10 (chimneys and fireplaces) because if you’re replacing or installing a roof, then you’ll likely deal with the building’s chimney.

Following Manufacturer Guidelines

The roof assemblies chapter (number 9) states that “roof coverings shall be applied in accordance with the applicable provisions of this section and the manufacturer’s installation instructions.”

The requirement to follow the manufacturer’s roof replacement guidelines is critical when you’re choosing a Boston, MA roofing company. Fortunately, if you choose Roof Hub you’ll feel comfortable knowing that we’re GAF Master Elite Certified and have installed hundreds of roofing systems in the Greater Boston area and all across Massachusetts.

How many layers of shingles are allowed on a roof in Massachusetts?

According to section R905 of the Massachusetts State Building Code 780R, homeowners are allowed no more than two layers of asphalt shingles on their roof. Additional layers add too much weight to the structure, making it prone to roof collapse.

How many layers of roofing underlayment are required Massachusetts?

According to section R905 of the Massachusetts State Building Code 780R, one layer of underlayment is required for residential asphalt roofing with a 4/12 slope or greater, and two layers of underlayment are required for new asphalt roofs with a 3/12 slope or less. Rquirement for metal, slate, and wood shingles are the same as asphalt shingle code in Massachusetts.

Base Roof Code

There is only one chapter of the Base Building Code that applies to roofing, though some other sections are applicable with some roofing projects. For example, if you’re replacing a roof deck in Boston along with the flat roof below it, then you’ll want to reference Chapter 10’s; Means of Egress.

Roof Assemblies and Rooftop Structures (Chapter 15)

Chapter 15 of the Massachusetts Base Building code covers:

  • Weather protection
  • Performance requirements
  • Fire classification
  • Materials
  • Requirements for roof coverings
  • Roof insulation
  • Radiant barriers installed above deck
  • Rooftop structures
  • Reroofing
  • Photovoltaic panels and modules

For more information about each section, refer to Chapter 15 of the MA State Building Code 9th Edition.

All roofing work must be performed in accordance with the requirements of the Massachusetts building code. Failure to do so can result in a variety of penalties, including fines and the stop-work order (covered below).

Rules For Roof Replacement In Boston City Limits

historical archive copy of city of boston survey and inspection of building codes from 1873
Historical archive of the City of Boston’s “Digest Of The Statutes Relating To The Survey and Inspection of Buildings In The City Of Boston” from 1873. Image courtesy of the Boston Public Library Archives.

There are many similarities for roofing in Boston compared to roofing across the state of Massachusetts, but also some differences you’ll need to understand before starting work on your project.

What is the roofing code in Boston?

As of 1974, the City of Boston follows the state-wide Massachusetts Building Code for all roofing projects completed in city limits.

This makes it easy for homeowners and Boston roofing contractors to have one set of clear guideline when replacing a roof in Dorchester, South Boston, the North End, or any other Boston neighborhood.

Do I need a roofing permit to replace my roof in Boston?

Yes, you need a roofing permit to replace your roof in Boston. The city has specific requirements for roofing permits, and failure to obtain one can result in significant fines and penalties.

Roofing permits are required for any work that involves the installation or repair of roofs, including shingles, tiles, metal roofing, and flat roofing.

The permitting process is designed to help ensure that all roofing work is performed in accordance with city code, MA building code, and completed by a contractor that is fully licensed and insured.

Where do I get a Boston roofing permit?

To receive a roofing permit, you must first apply to the Boston Building Department. The paperwork you submit must include a detailed description of the proposed work, as well as specifics regarding the remodeling job you’ll be working on. You will also be required to supply personal information, such as your license number and any appropriate insurance details.

Once your application is received, it will be reviewed by a building inspector. If the work is approved, you will be issued your roofing permit. You’ll then need to schedule an inspection of the work once it is completed for the roof installation to be finalized.

Where to get a crane permits in Boston, MA

A crane permit is required for any work that involves the use of a crane. Projects that involve cranes can be tricky because you’ll often need to close sidewalks and/or streets, which will require a police detail.

The permit process is designed to help ensure that all roofing work involving crane use is performed in accordance with Boston city code. Remodeling projects in the city of Boston that may require a crane include the installation of commercial rubber roofing, siding, and window replacement.

Avoid building code violations at all costs

Failure to get a roofing permit may result in serious consequences, including fines and a stop work order. Additionally, any work done without a permit is unlikely to be covered by insurance. For all these reasons and more , it is critical to secure the necessary license and city permits before undertaking any roof repair or full replacement in Boston.

What is the stop-work order?

A stop-work order is when the city orders a contractor to immediately cease work on their job site. This can be issued for a number of reasons, but most often it’s because the contractor is not following city or state regulations.

If you’re working on a roofing project without the proper permits, you will definitely be issued a stop-work order. These orders can be a major setbacks for any roofing project. To avoid legal issues and delays, make sure that you have all the necessary permit and licenses before beginning work.

Keep your peace of mind and hire Roof Hub

If you’re replacing your roof anywhere in the Greater Boston area, you can either handle all the permitting headaches yourself, or a hire a reputable contractor to take care of them for you…

When you hire Roof Hub, we’ll handle every step of your roof replacement from planning, permitting, insurance, material ordering, dumpster ordering, installation, cleanup, warranty registration, and anything else related to the project. To get your roof project started, contact us today.

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