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Last updated: 11/20/19

Sidewalk deposits

The City requires a sidewalk deposit and permit when a construction job may impact a sidewalk. This may take place through staging, occupation, utility work, new construction, renovation, or demolition.

Sidewalk deposits ensure that if a sidewalk is built incorrectly, the City has the funds to make the repairs. Once a contractor or homeowner finishes their work and rebuilds the sidewalk, the City inspects it. If a sidewalk passes inspection, we refund the deposit, minus the administrative fees.

Please note: this is not a permit to excavate, occupy the street, or install driveway openings. Those require separate permits and approvals.

Still have questions? Contact:
Public Works
1 City Hall Square
Room 714
Boston, MA 02201-2024
United States
Sidewalk checklist

For more information about how a sidewalk is evaluated, download the permittee return of deposit checklist:

Permittee Checklist

Getting a sidewalk deposit permit

Give us your plans

To get a permit, bring your Boston Water and Sewer Commission-approved site plans to:

Anne McNeil, Room 715
Boston City Hall
1 City Hall Square
Boston, MA 02201

You’ll need to give your name, phone number, and email address. We need 48 hours to calculate the cost of your deposit after you drop off your plans.

How we calculate the deposit amount

The calculation is based on the square feet of the sidewalk in front of the entire property. Costs vary depending on whether the existing sidewalk is concrete, brick, or asphalt:

Material Cost per square foot
Concrete $10
Brick or pavers $17
Asphalt $7

Keep in mind: There is an additional $4,000 charge for each sidewalk ramp. We also include a non-refundable inspection fee.

Sidewalk inspection information

Requirements to pass inspection

We focus on two primary points during inspections:

  1. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, and
  2. City of Boston standards.

Our permittee return of deposit checklist has more information.

When the inspection takes place

At the time you apply for a sidewalk permit, you’ll need to provide a date for when you plan to complete your project. You are required to request an inspection within 30 days of the estimated completion of the sidewalk.

If you need an extension, you must contact the Public Works Permitting Division at 617-635-4900 BEFORE your permit expiration date.

If you fail your inspection

The engineer who inspects the sidewalk will leave pink paint marks near where the issues are on the sidewalk. We will then send you a letter to explain why it did not pass inspection.

You are allowed to request re-inspection up to two more times after failing an inspection. After the third failed inspection, we are able to keep your deposit and use it to fix the sidewalk.

Getting your deposit back

Request an inspection

To receive a refund of your deposit, you need to request an inspection online or by mail. If there are no issues after we inspect the sidewalk, then we will process the refund.

Please note:
  • Only the person or entity whose name is on the sidewalk deposit permit can receive the refund from the City. If a developer or contractor puts down the initial deposit, the homeowner will not be able to apply to receive the refund.
  • Want to get your refund through direct deposit? Create a vendor profile on the City's Supplier Portal and provide your Vendor ID to the Permitting Office before you pay your deposit. You will not be able to receive the refund through direct deposit if you do not provide your Vendor ID before paying.
Complete the online form

If you've already submitted a request, you can also check your application status online. Please note: Even if your status is "Pass," it will take some time for us to process the refund and send it to you. If you don't see your permit number on that list, it means you still need to request an inspection.

Request an inspection online

Or Write us a letter

The letter needs to state that you completed your work on the site and sidewalk to “walk-away condition,” and are ready to have it inspected. The letter should also include tax identification information, such as your Vendor ID or social security number. This information is required to process the refund. Please send your letter to:

Anne McNeil
1 City Hall Square, Room 714
Boston, MA, 02201