There are many city agencies you might work with to complete your renovation, the New York City Department of Buildings is the one responsible for approving construction and permitting work to begin. If you are in a condo or co-op and you’re making only minor, non-structural changes like direct replacement of existing plumbing fixtures; you will need to ask your board or property manager for permission first. If you are considering rearranging the layout or adding/removing plumbing fixtures; you will need to work with an architect or engineer to secure approval from the board and DOB to do the work. So, what exactly is the process for making sure your new space is compatible with NYC Building Code? Here are the basic steps.
- Get Your Project Approved
It’s best—and in most cases, required—that you work through the process with a licensed professional to create a project plan. A Registered Architect or Professional Engineer will draw plans, figure out which parts require permits, and submit an application for approval to the Department of Buildings (DOB). We are licensed by the state of New York and understand the requirements of the agencies that will be involved. Plus, we can usually self-certify plans, which means less back-and-forth with the Department and a quicker turnaround for you.
- Request a Work Permit
Once the project plan is approved, it’s time to request a work permit. Again, using a licensed contractor will make things go as smoothly as possible—they are certified by the DOB, so they are very familiar with the agency’s procedures. The good news is that the City has digitized much of the approval and permit process to make it more efficient. Once you secure a permit and before starting the work, be sure to post it at the work site where it can easily be seen.
- Complete the Work
This step is pretty obvious, but it’s a good place to stress that work must be completed according to the approved project plan, and that if you choose to hire a contractor, the contractor should be licensed. You can check to see if the contractor is licensed with the DOB. Keep in mind that different City agencies have licensing requirements and that your search fits your project (see this link also for home improvement contractors).
- Complete Inspection of Work
This is where it helps to have someone who can professionally certify the completed work. If this is not the case for you, or if your project doesn’t meet the professional certification requirements, contact your architect to request the required inspections needed for your renovation.
- Letter of Completion or Certificate of Occupancy
A Certificate of Occupancy states how a building is legally used and is updated or issued when your home is modified or sold. Once you’ve passed inspection, secured any necessary approvals from other City agencies, and paid any outstanding fees, the Department may either issue a new/amended Certificate of Occupancy, or a Letter of Completion if the scope of work didn’t require a change to the ‘C of O’. This document will put the final stamp of approval on your renovation.
If you’re planning a condo renovation in NYC and need someone who can help you navigate NYC’s regulations and procedures, contact Strata Architecture + Design today.
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