not-so-little-rascals

Not So Little Rascals

If you have ever been at home sick watching daytime television, you’ve certainly seen commercials for Rascal scooters and similar devices. These devices are typically larger than a standard wheel chair and may have difficulty maneuvering within a building.


ll-141-exceptions-accessibility-and-you

LL 141, Exceptions, Accessibility and You

The New York City Council introduces hundreds of new local laws each year. In 2013 Local Law 141 was enacted which solidified the adoption of an NYC modification of the 2009 International Building Code (IBC) as the new city Building Code


fees-go-up-and-down

Fees Go Up and Down

Recently the DOB changed some of its application fees for residential buildings. Some fees went up, some went down. The news fees were originally laid out by LL56 of 2016, but only implemented into DOB systems on March 5, 2018. For the new fees, the DOB created of new classification and pricing tier for buildings above and below 7 stories and 100,000 square feet.


the-church-and-the-liquor-store

The Church and the Liquor Store

You rarely see liquor stores alongside churches and schools in New York City. It’s not a zoning restriction. It’s actually a law imposed by the New York Liquor Authority called the 200 Foot Rule.


bending-the-rules

Bending the Rules

It’s no coincidence that New York City has seen a proliferation of yoga studios in the last several years. This is largely due to the Department of Buildings distinguishing yoga studios from their “physical culture” brethren–the massage parlors, bathhouses and gyms that require BSA approval.


when-apartments-combine

When Apartments Combine

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.


getting-into-the-woods

Getting into the Woods

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?


energy-requirements-expand

Energy Requirements Expand

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.


unisex-in-the-city

Unisex in the City

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.”


nyc-energy-code-is-air-tight

NYC’s Energy Code is Air Tight

New York City and State will implement their new Energy Codes on October 3, 2016. New York State Energy Conservation Code (NYSECC) is based on the International Energy Conservation Code and ASHRAE 90.1-2013. The New York City Energy Conservation Code (NYCECC) is the adopted version of Local Law 91.


raising-the-ground-floor-roof

Raising the Ground Floor Roof

Perhaps the most significant piece of the Zoning for Quality and Affordability amendment is the new allowance of an extra five feet of ground floor height for many buildings.


inner-courts-shrink

Inner Courts Shrink

New York City Planning is now allowing some residential districts to have significantly smaller courts. The Zoning for Quality and Affordability Amendment (ZQA) created a category for “small inner courts,” which can be as small as 200 square feet. Small inner courts are permitted in R6 – R10 districts under the following circumstances:


how-much-is-a-lot

How Much is a Lot?

Under the Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA), corner lots in R6-R10 contextual districts will now be permitted 100% lot coverage. Previously these corner lots were limited to 80% coverage.


why-opt-in-to-quality-housing

Why Opt-in to Quality Housing?

The Quality Housing Program was established in 1987 to help maintain the architectural character of New York City neighborhoods. The program includes rules concerning height, bulk, lot coverage, street line and more. Quality Housing is mandatory in contextual R6-R10 districts, but only optional in non-contextual R6-R10 districts.


nyc-industrial-residentialization

NYC’s Industrial Residentialization

The redevelopment of industrial areas for residential use has been a trend throughout New York City’s recent history. Thirty years ago it was happening in neighborhoods like Soho and Tribeca. Today luxury residential development has expanded to industry parts of Dumbo and North Brooklyn.


1968-the-year-the-code-changed

1968: The Year the Code Changed

Nineteen Sixty Eight may be the most important year in New York City building development. That year the Department released an updated Building Code. It took forty years to release another. This left a lot of buildings under the 1968 code.


accessibility-face-lift

Accessibility Face-Lift

The DOB recently released a bulletin to clarify instances when wheelchair lifts can be used within an accessible route. With few exceptions, the 2014 Building Code eliminated wheelchair lifts as a component of accessible route in “new construction.”


can-a-bedroom-in-nyc-have-a-sink

Can a Bedroom in NYC Have a Sink?

A bedroom in New York City can have lavatory in a bedroom only if it functions as a secondary lavatory. The dwelling unit would need to have a compliant, accessible bathroom elsewhere. The Building Code does not address requirements for a secondary lavatory in a bedroom, but it’s likely the DOB would require the lavatory to be fully accessible, meaning an accessible approach to the sink.


escape-from-parking-in-new-york

Escape From Parking in New York

After lengthy debate, City Council approved Mayor de Blasio’s Zoning for Quality and Affordability plan (ZQA). A key component of the plan is the relaxation of parking requirements for multiple dwellings. By eliminating parking requirements, the mayor aims to make it easier for developers to maximize zoning lots for affordable and senior housing.


landmarks-maps-nyc-architectural-heritage

Landmarks Maps NYC’s Architectural Heritage

New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission released a citywide interactive Landmark map called Discover Landmarks NYC. The map highlights all landmarked buildings and districts in New York. Each building or district is clickable, providing an image and brief description. It’s a fun map that aims to educate locals and tourists about the architectural heritage of New York.


dob-releases-new-bathroom-prototypes

DOB Releases New Bathroom Prototypes

The DOB released new bathroom prototypes as Rule 1101-01. These prototypes serve as accessibility alternatives for buildings undergoing renovation and occupied on or before March 13, 1991. Buildings that cannot implement the prototypes are subject to the current accessibility standards for bathrooms, outlined in Chapter 11 of the 2014 Building Code.


keep-your-ramps-to-yourself

Keep Your Ramps to Yourself

Beginning in 1987, accessibility laws required all new buildings in New York to have entrances at grade. However, in an effort to improve accessibility in older buildings, the Department of Transportation allows pre-1987 buildings to construct entrance ramps extending beyond the property line under revocable consent.


opening-up-to-convenience-stairs

Opening Up to Convenience Stairs

Convenience stairs, loosely defined as any non-egress stairs, are increasingly popular in New York retail establishments. Most establishments prefer open convenience stairs as opposed to fully enclosed shaft stairs. Because open convenience stairs pose increased fire hazards, they are required to abide by a strict series of code. Here is how open convenience stairs may be permissible with the most allowances.


street-tree-smarts

Street Tree Smarts

NYC’s street tree planting requirement may leave some developers out on a limb. Since the Street Tree Amendment of 2007 all new buildings, major enlargements and certain conversions are required to plant street trees. If a building owner fails to plant street trees, the DOB will not issue a TCO.


new-fire-codes-to-know

New Fire Codes to Know

So many new codes have been released since 2014 that building professionals are still catching their collective breath. The FDNY released a memo simplifying some of the most important changes in the 2014 Fire Code. The changes can broadly be categorized to include codes relating to fire escape plans and those relating to road and rooftop accessibility.


opening-up-the-lot-line-windows

Opening Up the Lot Line Windows

The Department of Buildings recently released Buildings Bulletin 2015-017 to clarify code requirements related to lot line windows on R-2 and R-3 buildings.


building-etiquette

Building Etiquette

As expected, Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler released a Code of Conduct memo outlining the rules and regulations for industry professionals.


dob-target-bad-actors

DOB Targets Bad Actors

Integrity is a pillar of DOB Commissioner Rick Chandler’s Building One City blueprint. DOB employees have been subject to a Code of Conduct since 2009. The Code of Conduct establishes ethical codes and standards of conduct for DOB employees. In the summer of 2015 the DOB will release an industrywide Code of Conduct that will extend to developers, professionals and other project stakeholders.


where-do-i-sign

Where Do I Sign?

Though New Yorkers may feel inundated with signage, signage is heavily regulated by the Zoning Resolution’s Use Regulations in Article 3 Section 2. The Zoning Resolution heavily regulates signage in residential districts, while commercial and manufacturing districts are generally more permissive.


constraints-of-non-conforming-use

Constraints of Non-Conforming Use

New York City has undergone several zoning changes over the years. When a district undergoes a major zoning change, a building’s use doesn’t necessarily have to fall in line. The building can remain in the district under what’s called non-conforming use.


third-stairway-to-egress

Third Stairway to Egress

The Department of Buildings will soon enforce Section 403.5.2 of the Building Code requiring buildings to have a third egress stair. Applications filed on or after July 1, 2015 will be subject to the code. The enforcement date of Section 403.5.2 was postponed to give City Council time to pass a zoning text amendment discounting the floor area from the additional stairway.


when-is-a-fire-protection-plan-required

When is a Fire Protection Plan Required?

A Fire Protection Plan (FPP) is a detailed report of the life safety, fire safety and evacuation systems of a building. The plan includes narrative descriptions of the building, its safety systems and features along with drawings that denote all items within these systems.


increasing-occupancy

Increasing Occupancy

Increasing occupancy on the floor of a building requires filing an alteration type 1 application with the DOB and getting a new (or amended) certificate of occupancy. An architect will determine the nature and extent of construction required to increase the occupancy.


have-a-drink-on-nyc

Have a Drink on NYC

Before the proliferation of water bottles, drinking fountains were relied upon to quench one’s thirst. But water fountains aren’t thoughtlessly installed into buildings. The New York City Plumbing Code has clear-cut laws on access to water and water fountains.


little-e-big-headaches

Little e’s, Big Headaches

For New York City buildings, an E-designation can feel like a bad diagnosis. New York City’s Department of City Planning assigns E-designations to tax lots deemed to have hazardous materials, noise, or air quality levels below environmental requirements outlined the City Environmental Quality Review (Appendix C). An E-designation, also known as “little e,” often causes confusion for owners and frustration for design professionals.


new-special-inspections-to-rollout-in-2015

New Special Inspections to Rollout in 2015

Architects, engineers, contractors, and inspectors need to familiarize themselves with the new special inspections debuting with the 2014 Building Code that rolls out on December 31, 2014. Here are some of those new special inspections.


kicking-the-code-down-the-road

Kicking the Code Down the Road

New York City Council passed Intro 472A and 474, effectively postponing the implementation date of the new 2014 Building Code back to December 31, 2014. The new building code had previously been scheduled to take effect on October 1, 2014.


flood-amendment-considers-streetscapes

Flood Amendment Considers Streetscapes

New York City’s recently approved Flood Resilience Zoning Text Amendment means a host of changes for buildings in New York City’s flood zones. The centerpiece of the amendment is the imposition of the Flood-Resistant Construction Elevation (FRCE), defined as the FEMA flood elevation requirement plus the freeboard requirement as outlined in the building code.