Many of Boston's residential buildings are old enough that it might difficult for you to readily find important information about the history of your home. Some questions you might have about your home, either now or when you're considering renovations, may include:
- How do I find plans of my house?
- What style is my house?
- Where were my original property lines?
- What were some past renovations to my house?
- How do I restore my house?
Good news! Boston Public Library services the blueprint collection for the City of Boston, which includes building plans (blueprints, floor plans, new construction, any alterations) and building inspector's reports (construction dates, architect’s and builder’s names, and building descriptions), so we can help you out.
How Do You Request Plans for Your House from the BPL?
It's a bit of a multi-step system, but here we go:
For us to find your plan, you must first provide us with a bin number, which you can find on the relevant building permits.
- The easiest way to find your bin number is to call the Boston Inspectional Services Department (located at 1010 Massachusetts Avenue, Documents Section, 5th floor) at 617.635.5300, ext. 1301, Monday–Friday 8:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. Let staff know you're looking for blueprints at the BPL. Give them the address you're looking for, and they'll be able to find the bin number for you.
You can also find building permits online in the City of Boston's online database.
- If you don’t find your building, try another street number that would be close, such as the previous even or odd number.
- To narrow the search, use the right drop down arrow in the Document Type line and select Long Form Permit.
- The bin number is usually found on the jacket or cover which, in the database, follows the permit. The jacket will appear sideways – rotate it and look for a bin number in the lower left corner (one letter and one to three digits—i.e. P232 or R67.)
2. Once you’ve found the bin numbers for your building, contact us:
617.859.2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Within 5-7 business days of your request, you will be notified by phone of the search results. We may find rolls of floor plans, plot plans, or just building inspector's reports that will give you information on what kind of additions, repairs, or renovations have been done to your property. Please keep in mind this is an incomplete collection and it is possible we may not find anything for the address you have requested.
3. View your materials in the Arts Reading Room, McKim Building, 2nd Floor, Boston Public Library:
Viewing is available by appointment only on Thursdays from 9:30am to 4:30pm.
Unfortunately, we cannot have the blueprints professionally reproduced anymore because it can damage the original print. You are welcome to use your phone or any non-flash photography to take images.
Happy blueprint searching!