Building Code

Hostels, those bunked up dormitories filled with weary travelers easily recognized by their Ghostbuster sized backpacks, are common in many European and American cities. In New York City only a handful remain. Is New York City hostile to the hostel?

The major piece of legislation that stamped out hostels was New York State Senate Bill 6873-B, commonly known as the “Illegal Hotels Bill.” The bill is famously cited for making the short-term rentals found on apartment share sites illegal. (more...)

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The combining of residential units has become increasingly popular in New York City. Residential combinations can range from the joining of two apartments to turning a larger multiple dwelling into a single family home.

Combining residential units can be tricky. Major upgrades to fire and life safety systems, accessibility and egress may be in order. Here are the leading issues surrounding residential unit combinations.

Is There a Change in Use, Egress or Occupancy? (more...)

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Manhattan is built to the sky with steel, concrete and glass, but a growing trend threatens to transform the composition of the famous horizon. Emboldened by the burgeoning prefabricated wood engineering process called mass timber, architects are beginning to envision the wooden high-rise. But will the Building Code oblige?

Mass timber is a process of making structural panels from glued together wood slabs. The process of crisscrossing slabs in sandwiched layers is called cross-laminated timber (CLT). (more...)

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The Department of Buildings released three Local Laws changing key definitions that broaden the types of buildings required to benchmark, upgrade lighting and install sub-meters. These Local Laws amend the Administrative Code to redefine covered buildings, city buildings and covered tenant spaces.

Lighting Upgrades

The city clearly seeks to expand required energy efficient lighting systems. Local Law 88 of 2009 mandated “covered buildings” to upgrade their lighting controls, tandem wiring, exit signs, interior lighting power requirements and exterior lighting by January 1, 2025. (more...)

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Beginning January 1st, 2017, Local Law 79 of 2016 requires single occupancy bathrooms in New York City to be available for men or women. Single occupancy bathrooms are defined as “a toilet room with no more than one water closet and no more than one urinal.” Bars are exempt if they have occupancy of 150 or less people and one single occupancy bathroom for men and one for women. (more...)

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New York City Council is currently floating two bills that may drop the hammer on illegal conversions. The first allows circumstantial evidence to be used to issue violations for illegal conversions. The second targets unlicensed professionals doing illegal plumbing and fire safety work.

Section 28-210.1 of the Administrative Code defines illegal conversions in New York City as the conversion of “any dwelling for occupancy by more than the legally authorized number of families.” Intro 0393-2014 intends to add to this 28-210.1 that the Department or any law enforcement entity acting to enforce this section “shall be authorized to issue a summons or notice of violation for a violation of this section based on readily observable circumstantial evidence which evidence may be refuted before a court of competent jurisdiction or before the environmental control board prior to the imposition of a final determination.”

The bill goes on to define circumstantial evidence as a greater number of:

  • mailboxes than legal dwelling units
  • operational facility meters than legal dwelling units
  • doorbells servicing a dwelling than legal dwelling units

Fines for violations are $1000. (more...)

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On October 21st, 2016 New York Governor Cuomo signed the bill 8704-C into law, imposing fines for the advertisement of illegal short term transient occupancies. Referred to as the “Airbnb Bill,” the bill does not target Airbnb specifically, nor does it make Airbnb’s services illegal. The use of a Class A residential dwelling for a duration of less than 30 days already violates the Multiple Dwelling Law of 1929. (more...)

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