Getting in the Back Way

Jim Wolffer of Shoreline Builders, south of Boston, had a problem. His work was moving along in spite of the COVID-19 emergency, but building department inspections were a stumbling block.

Wolffer wrote to JLC in an email: "I work in multiple towns and it is amazing how differently each building department is handling permitting and inspections going forward. Most are trying to cobble together a system, but getting permits for new projects and inspections for existing projects is proving to be a challenge. Some towns are doing inspections, others in unoccupied buildings only and some are allowing photographs or video for inspections and others are not. Unfortunately in one town where we recently ripped out all but one of [the client's] bathrooms and need inspections this week to continue, the building commissioner won’t let his inspectors to come out because the homeowners are living there. They want the house empty for two weeks before they will enter. And they will not accept photos."

But Wolffer found a creative solution. A couple days later, he emailed JLC: "The building department would not budge on their inspectional services policy. So we removed a handrail on the second floor deck and built an access stair to get up to the master bathroom. We cut a door into the space from the deck and we plan to use this access, not only for the inspectors, but also for our employees and subs for the duration of the project."

Access Door

"The doors into the bathroom from the master bedroom are double glass doors," wrote Wolffer: "We simply sealed the doors with a sheet of plastic with continuous tape on all 4 sides, then screwed a board across the inside of the doors so the homeowners can open from their side. The access door is something we had to make up because we only had a 5-foot-tall window opening to work with."


"A good solution all around," added Wolffer. "After sealing up the interior bathroom door, our spaces are totally separate. No one is happier than my plumber!! He has had a lot of projects shut down and he really appreciated our efforts to keep him working."