Permitting and Zoning


Stefanov Architects is experienced in achieving zoning relief, gaining community support, and permitting within the City of Boston as well as Cambridge, Somerville, Needham, Wakefield, Lowell, and many other towns in Massachusetts.

We generally approach projects in phases. For example, a project in the City of Boston may have these steps:

  • Schematic Design and Zoning Analysis: Working with your desired program, we would develop plans and elevations and develop a style for the building. We would perform a zoning analysis to see if you can build as-of-right.
  • Zoning Review Set. We would take the schematic design with sections and details that would allow ISD (Inspectional Services Department) to review and issue a Zoning Refusal Letter that can be used to apply to the Board of Appeals. We would suggest starting your BWSC (Boston Water and Sewer Commission) approval plan with our civil consultant at that time.
  • Once you have your Refusal Letter and apply to the Board of Appeals, we could then start gathering community support, we would work with the City Office of Neighborhood Services. We would prepare drawings for presentation and incorporate what changes you approve, and meet with the neighbors or neighborhood groups as needed. We may have suggested a zoning attorney for larger projects.
  • BOA (Board of Appeals) / BRA (Boston Redevelopment Authority) – We would present to the Board of Appeals and with community support, and get our approval. This would take time for the decision to be written and cycle through the City’s legal department, BOA signing, and to be sent back to ISD for final code review.

When projects are approved, further phases are:

  • Construction Documents. This includes detailed information that a building contractor would need. We will include fire alarms, door and window schedule, wall sections, framing (with consulting from structural engineers), door and window schedules, fire protection, and HERS (Home Energy Rating System) rating. The design will be reviewed to meet building codes. The documents may be sent to the BRA for design review; we will work with them to incorporate their suggestions into the building exterior design.
  • Bidding Phase and Contract Preparation: Stefanov Architects would be available to assist you with bidding. We would also be available to help draft an AIA (American Institute of Architects) contract between the owner and the contractor.
  • We would prepare any Controlled Construction Affidavits as required by the City.
  • Construction Administration Phase: Stefanov Architects would make visits during construction to note the progress and keep records of the construction. Affidavits would be required by the City at the end of the project which we would prepare.
  • Stefanov Architects can be available as the owner’s representative and provides detailed administration of the contract between owner and the contractor. This would include:
    • Visit the site at regular intervals (to be set) to review and verify that construction is proceeding according to the design intent.
    • Attend contractor meetings and review the work in place to verify construction according to plans and specifications and record and distribute field reports
    • Review submittals.
    • Review contractor’s requests for information and requests for payment.
  • Condominium Documents. We would prepare the documents you would need to have filed at the Registry of Deeds.


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