Health Matters: Demolition Guidelines for Needham Residents
Looking to take down a house, garage or shed? The Needham Health Department shares some of the requirements if you live in town.
By Needham Health Department Staff
Are you planning to take down your home, garage or shed? Or will you be doing some extensive renovation work? If so, it is important for you to be familiar with the Needham Health Department’s requirements, prior to receiving a demolition permit through the town’s Building Department. These procedures are necessary because of the many environmental concerns that are associated with demolitions.
The main environmental concerns are: asbestos removal (roofing/siding/insulation/floor tiles, etc.), pest control, nuisance dust control (which may include lead dust, etc.), proper removal of any underground storage tanks, proper abandonment of septic systems and/or in-ground pools and proper removal of mercury-containing devices such as thermostats. Following these procedures decreases the risk of exposures to these environmental hazards to workers, homeowners and abutting neighbors.
Here are the procedures that you will need to follow prior to any demolition work:
1. File the paperwork: Pick up a form called, "Notification of Demolition," at the Health Department office, located on the second floor of the newly renovated Town Hall, 1471 Highland Ave. The form also can be downloaded online (click on "Permits and Applications"). Click on the form entitled "Demolition Guidelines and Notification." This form needs to be filled out by you (or your contractor) and approved by the Health Department (ensuring that all the required information is submitted including the $40 fee.)
The Health Department will make three copies of this approved form; one is for your records, and the other copies need to be hand-delivered to the Building Department (located at 470 Dedham Ave.) and the Fire Department (located at 88 Chestnut St.). You will then need to meet the additional requirements of the Building Department in order to receive your demolition permit.
2. Schedule a pest inspection: All structures that are going to be demolished need to be inspected by a Licensed Rodent/Pest Control Operator. A list of these can be found in the yellow pages under pest control. This report must be submitted with your notification of demolition form. If evidence of pests are found, and the structure(s) are baited, you will need to wait 10 days before you can take down the structure(s).
Please try to have this inspection done as close to the date of the planned demolition as possible. Pest inspection reports submitted that are conducted more than three months prior to demolition will not be accepted. You will need to schedule another inspection. You may want to allow approximately 1-2 weeks for this process.
3. Schedule an asbestos inspection: You will also need to have the structure(s) inspected by a Certified Asbestos Inspector. You can download a current list of analytical labs that employ certified asbestos inspectors at this Web link. (Note: You can also hire a private inspector, but you would need to submit a copy of their certified asbestos inspector’s license.) Sampling must be conducted of all Suspect Asbestos Containing Materials—no visual inspections are allowed. Please submit a copy of the asbestos report (this report must include a letter from a certified asbestos inspector, sampling results and removal reports.
Final air test results are also required to be submitted after completion of an asbestos abatement action, except for small scale glove bag or exterior asbestos removals. A Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Asbestos Notification Form (ANF-001) must also be submitted. A copy of this form is available to be downloaded at mass.gov/dep. Note: Trace asbestos elements must now be removed and disposed of in an approved commercial landfill. You may want to allow approximately a month to complete this process.
4. Stake out or abandon the septic system: If you have a septic system, this will need to be either staked out so no heavy equipment drives over it (if you are demolishing a garage or shed), or the system will need to be abandoned properly (if you are demolishing a house) and connected to sewer if available. Please pick up a copy of the "Septic Abandonment" form from the Health Department office or download it from the Health Department Web site, and have your contractor fill it out and sign/date it and submit it back to the Health Department along with a copy of the septic system pump report. (Please note: Failure to provide documentation that the system was properly abandoned to prevent future safety hazard may subject the owner to fines, prevent issuance of occupancy or building permits, or delay the sale of a home.)
5. Dispose of mercury: Please be aware that the proper disposal of mercury thermostats is required. The Board of Health Regulation, specifically Article 13 – Mercury Disposal, requires the proper disposal of mercury-containing devices. You can bring these thermostats to the Health Department office or to the Department of Public Works (across the hall from the Building Department). Note: There is a $100-300 fine per incident (per thermostat).
6. Check for fuel storage: You must contact the Fire Department at 781-455-7580 to verify if there are any underground fuel storage tanks (USTs) on file for your property. This will also allow them to schedule a water truck with you to be present on site the day of the scheduled demolition (to spray down nuisance dust debris, etc.).
Below is an additional new requirement, recently imposed:
7. Notify the neighbors: You must notify all the direct abutting neighbors of your impending demolition. Please drop a letter off to each neighbor giving them the date of the demolition. The Health Department must receive a copy of this draft letter, as part of our demolition approval process. This will enable the neighbors to plan accordingly (i.e. leave their property, shut their windows, etc.) when the demolition is taking place.
For more information on these demolition procedures, you can contact the Health Department at 781-455-7523 ext. 262. You can also contact the Building Department at 781-455-7542 to get information on their demolition permitting requirements.