FAQs & Additional Resources
Included below are some of the most frequently asked questions of the Code Enforcement Department, along with links to additional resources, State applications, and fact sheets.
- How long is a permit valid?
A building permit issued shall become invalid if the authorized work is not commenced within six (6) months after the issuance of the permit, or if the authorized work is suspended or abandoned for a period of six (6) months after the time of commencing the work. A building permit is good for one year from the date of issuance.
The building official is authorized to grant, in writing, one or more extensions of time, for periods not more than 180 days each. The extension shall be requested in writing and justifiable cause demonstrated.
- How many person(s) are allowed per habitable room?
Floor Space Requirements
Every sleeping room used for sleeping purposes shall contain a minimum of seventy (70) square feet of floor area and at least fifty (50) square feet of floor area per person with all measurements based on the total habitable room area; provided that the occupancy of any dwelling unit having more than one (1) habitable room shall not exceed an average of one and one-half (1 1/2) persons per habitable room, and provided further that for the purposes of this section, a child under ten (10) years of age shall be deemed to be one-half (1/2) person.
Every dwelling unit shall contain at least one hundred (100) square feet of floor area per occupant.
- Can my roof support the installation of a solar panel?
It depends on the specific roof construction. A stamped drawing/letter from a Maine Certified Engineer ensuring the roof structure can support the additional weight load will be required when obtaining the permit.
- What are the stair riser and tread requirements?
- In residential use, the maximum riser height is 7 3/4 inches and the minimum tread depth is 10 inches. Tread depth is measured horizontally between the vertical planes of the foremost projection of adjacent treads and at a right angle to the reads leading edge.
- In other uses, maximum riser height is 7 3/4 inches and minimum tread depth is 10 inches.
- There shall not be a variation exceeding 3/16 inches in the depth of adjacent treads or in height of adjacent risers. The tolerance between the largest and the smallest riser or the largest and smallest tread shall not exceed 3/8 inches in any flight of stairs.
- The minimum headroom in all parts of a stairway shall not be less than 6 feet 8 inches measured vertically from the tread nosing or from the floor surface of the landing or platform.
- For winders, spiral, circular, and other types of stairs - call for requirements.
- Stairway width and landing width for one and two family dwellings shall not be less than 3 feet.
- When is a guardrail required?
A guardrail is required when:
- Porches, balconies, or raised floor surfaces, open sides of stairs located more than 30 inches above the floor or grade.
- In one and two-family dwelling, guardrails shall not be less than 36 inches in height for porches, balconies, or raised floor surfaces, and open sides of stairs 34 inches minimum measured vertically from the nosing of the treads. If guardrails are also going to be used as handrails, see handrail section.
- In most other uses, guardrails should be at least 42 inches in height measured vertically above the leading edge of the tread or adjacent walking surface.
- Open guards shall have balusters or other construction such that a sphere with a diameter of 4 inches cannot pass through any opening.
The triangular openings formed by the riser, tread at the bottom rail at the open side of a stairway shall be of a maximum size such that a sphere 6 inches in diameter cannot pass through the opening.
- When are graspable handrails required?
Continuously graspable handrails are required on stairs with four or more risers and mounted between 34 and 38 inches of the stair slope and not less than 1 1/2 inches from the wall. One-and-two family dwellings require one graspable handrail while Commercial and multi-family buildings require handrails on both sides. Many exterior plastic composite handrails meet these requirements.
- How much frost protection should I have?
Foundation systems should be four (4) feet minimum below grade to protect from frost.
- What R-Values should I insulate to?
The City of Westbrook follows the State adopted 2015 International Energy and Conservation Code; you can find the insulation code requirements in the building permit application for reference purposes; but please defer to the Code Enforcement Officer for specific requirements to your project.
- What are ground snow load and wind speed requirements?
Ground snow load 60 (up to elevation 500)
Wind Speed 120 mph (54 m/s)
- What size does a bedroom egress window have to be?
Every sleeping room shall have at least one (1) operable window or exterior door approved for emergency egress or rescue. The units must be operable from the inside to a full clear opening without the use of separate tools. Where a window is provided as a means of egress or rescue, they shall have a sill height of not more than 44 inches above the floor.
All egress or rescue windows from sleeping rooms must have a minimum net clear opening of 5.7 square feet. The minimum net clear opening height dimension shall be 24 inches. The minimum net clear opening width dimension shall be 20 inches.
To calculate the square footage of the opening, multiply the width of the opening in inches by the height of the opening in inches and dividing by 144. This measurement should be 5.7 minimum.