Information on Building Permits & Subdivisions

This page provides general information regarding application requirements and processing for the following:
  • Building Permits
  • Subdivisions
  • Site Plans
  • Special Exceptions
  • Variances
  • Historic District Certificates of Approval
If you require further information please contact the Department of Planning and Land Use at (603) 527-4727.

Building Permits
Any construction in the town of Gilford requires a building permit.  This includes any new building, reconstruction, repairs, additions, or construction of any shed, fence, deck, porch, etc.  If you are performing electrical or plumbing work, a permit is required.  If you are uncertain as to whether or not a permit is required for the work you are performing, please contact the Department of Planning and Land Use to be sure.

Building permits are issued to assist the Town in ensuring that building and zoning codes are being met.  The building inspector will inspect the work at various stages of construction and will issue a certificate of occupancy when the work is complete and passes final inspection.

New Hampshire state code allows the inspector 30 days for residential and 60 days for commercial permits to review and approve or deny the application; however, most permits are reviewed in much less time.  Upon approval of your permit you will be notified and work may begin.  As you complete work, you will be expected to set up an inspection appointment.  Appointments require at least 24 hours’ notice before they can be scheduled.  All appointments are made on the basis of availability on the inspector’s schedule.

An application fee is required when the building permit application is submitted.  Drawings should accompany the application including construction plans showing details of the work to be performed, and a plot plan or site plan showing property lines, site features, existing structures, and areas of new construction.  The building code used by the Town of Gilford is the 2000 International Building Code.

The Gilford Zoning Ordinance defines a subdivision, in part, as the division of a “lot, tract, or parcel of land into two (2) or more lots, plats, sites, or other divisions of land for the purpose, whether immediate or future, of sale, rent, lease, condominium conveyance or building development.”  If you have a parcel of land you would like to break up into one or more smaller parcels you need to apply for a subdivision.  

Detailed requirements for preparing and processing a subdivision application may be found in the Town of Gilford “Subdivision and Site Plan Review Regulations” and the Gilford zoning ordinance.  Generally an application for a subdivision includes at a minimum, a completed application form, an application fee, and several copies of a subdivision plan.  The subdivision plan must be prepared and stamped by a licensed land surveyor or professional engineer.  A public notice is mailed to all abutting property owners, a list of whom is prepared by the applicant and submitted with the application.  The applicant also pays for the cost of sending the public notice via certified mail.  All subdivisions are reviewed by the Gilford Planning Board.  The applicant or his representative (usually the surveyor or engineer) is offered an opportunity to explain the application at a Planning Board meeting.  The Board members and staff may ask questions and then the public attending the meeting is given a chance to speak as well.  The item will be approved, approved with conditions, tabled to another meeting to allow gathering additional information, or denied.  

Site Plans
A site plan is required for all commercial uses.  If a person wishes to use, modify, or develop a property for commercial purposes, the person must do so according to a site plan approved by the Planning Board.  Detailed requirements for site plan preparation and processing are available in the Town of Gilford “Subdivision and Site Plan Review Regulations” and the Gilford zoning ordinance.  A site plan is a detailed drawing showing an overhead view of existing and proposed site details including property lines, buildings, parking, landscaping, wetlands, slopes, site grading, lighting, signs, impervious surface area, fencing, waste collection, utilities, etc.  Utilities include above- and below-grade systems for drainage, sewer, water, gas, electricity, telephone, cable, etc.  An applicant may request that the Planning Board waive showing site plan details under certain circumstances.  

Site plans using or requiring the "practice of engineering'' as defined in RSA 310-A:2.III., must be prepared and sealed by a professional engineer.  “Practice of engineering” means, generally, professional service or creative work requiring advanced knowledge of mathematics and physical sciences, and use of discretion and judgment in evaluating, planning, and designing a site with utilities, structures, buildings, equipment, etc. where the public welfare, or the safeguarding of life, health, or property is concerned.  An example of such a plan would be a site plan for a new 20,000 square foot store or office building where parking, drainage, landscaping, site access, and similar improvements are proposed.  Examples of plans where such a certification may not be required include site plans for home occupations and minor site plan amendments.

Special Exceptions
Special exceptions are required for uses so designated in Article 4 of the Gilford zoning ordinance.  A special exception generally is a use requiring additional review by the Board of Adjustment.  Special exceptions typically go hand in hand with a site plan review by the Planning Board.  An applicant for a special exception must first submit an application to the Planning Board for site plan approval, the Planning Board will then hear the request for site plan approval and “deny jurisdiction” to allow the applicant to go the Board of Adjustment for special exception review.  An application for the special exception request may then be submitted.  The request will then be scheduled for review by the Board of Adjustment.  Upon its approval, the matter will then return to the Planning Board for final site plan approval.  In some cases the Planning Board approves site plans before the special exception review with a condition that the approval is made subject to the Board of Adjustment approving the special exception.

A variance is a setting aside of certain requirements of the zoning ordinance (such as a building setback or building height limitation) to allow a structure to be built or expanded in a way that would not normally be allowed.  This is a common practice throughout the state and the nation that creates a way for inflexible regulations to be applied flexibly for unusual situations.  

The Board of Adjustment reviews all variance applications.  The state strictly limits the Board’s authority to vary the standard regulations with the finding of a “hardship” being the most difficult to make in most situations.

Historic District Certificates of Approval
Property in the Historic District is subject to the provisions of Article 14 of the Gilford zoning ordinance.  Generally these provisions state that anyone interested in modifying an exterior feature of their property must obtain a certificate of approval from the Historic District and Heritage Commission prior to performing the work.  Work that the Commission reviews includes construction, demolition, painting, roofing, erecting a fence, installing or removing landscaping, and other outside modifications.  If you are uncertain whether you are in the Historic District or if the work you are considering requires a certificate of approval, you may contact the Department of Planning and Land Use.