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


vacant-land-ho

Vacant Land Ho!

Much hullabaloo was raised by housing advocates when Comptroller Scott Stringer put out a report claiming the HPD was sitting on 1,125 vacant city-owned lots. About half of those are in Brooklyn, 363 in Queens, 112 in the Bronx and 98 in Manhattan.


running-through-the-sprinklers

Running Through the Sprinklers

New York City Buildings in occupancy group E over 100 feet in height will soon have a building code fire to put out. Local Law 26 of 2004 mandates that these large office buildings be equip with a full system of automatic sprinklers by July 1, 2019. Local Law 26 applies retroactively.


meaner-tax-liens

Meaner Tax Liens

The DOB released two local laws that will move buildings with high ECB fines closer to foreclosure. Tax liens and distressed properties were previously limited to owners that defaulted payment.


big-fines-no-permits

Big Fines? No Permits

New York City building owners owing heavy ECB fines will now have a tougher time pulling permits due to recently passed Local Law 160. If building owners owe more than $25,000 in “covered arrears” the DOB will not issue permits for new buildings, demolition, place of assembly or major alterations that will change use, egress or occupancy.


zone-green-walls

Zone Green Walls

In 2012, New York City’s Zone Green program amended the Zoning Code to allow wall thickness to be deducted from floor area provided the walls are energy efficient. City Planning claims New York buildings are responsible for 80 percent of the city’s carbon emissions.


construction-safety-bill-increases-training

Construction Safety Bill Increases Training

City Council passed its construction safety bill on September 27th, 2017. The bill makes additions to the Administrative and Building Codes to mandate worker safety training, creates a task force and imposes penalties for failure to comply.


check-your-ecb-violations

New Website Resolves ECB Violations

Outsource Consultants has launched a convenient ECB Violations Tool for New York City building owners, property managers, owners representatives and other building professionals. Simply enter a building address to see a list of open ECB violations.


what-is-the-scaffold-law

What is the Scaffold Law?

The Scaffold Law is a 1885 New York State Law the places liability on owners and contractors for injury stemming from the failure to provide scaffold safety protections required by building codes. In later years, the courts added the terms “strict” and “absolute” to liability, thus eliminating any ruling of shared liability between owner/contractor and injured worker.


must-stop-working

Must Stop Working

In an effort to curtail the recent surge of construction injuries, the DOB has ramped up its stop work order issuances. Stop work order issuances increased three times faster than permit issuances from 2012-2016. Following approved plans and construction safety measures can prevent stop work orders.


before-you-buy

Before You Buy

Prospective building owners should do their homework before pulling the trigger on a purchase. There could be restrictions on the property or fees unrecognized in the sales price. Large buildings will typically get a due diligence report from an expediting company.


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.


same-day-violations-slows

Same Day Violations Slows

The DOB announced a critical change to the way the Administrative Enforcement Unit handles DOB-ECB violation corrections. Going forward, the AEU will only issue two tickets for same day Certificate of Correction service, down from three. Secondly, the AEU will only issue same day Certificate of Correction tickets for Hazardous Class 1 Violations and violations eligible for a cure.


two-bills-target-illegal-conversions

Two Bills Target Illegal Conversions

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.


airbnb-bill-targets-advertising

Airbnb Bill Targets Advertising

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.


ecb-violation-amnesty-begins-september-12

ECB Violation Amnesty Begins September 12th

On September 12th, 2016 the Department of Finance launched its 90-day amnesty program allowing subjects with unpaid ECB violations an opportunity to pay their fines at a reduced rate. Those that have lingering violations are encouraged to participate before the Department of Finance imposes strict collection measures that may include wage garnishment and even sale of property.


solar-certification-expands

Solar Certification Expands

The DOB made it a little easier for homeowners wanting to install rooftop solar panels. Now professional certification is allowed on projects participating in the Solar Panel Tax Abatement program. Visits with plan examiners are no longer required.


no-harassment-expands

No Harassment Expands

The Department of Buildings and Housing Preservation and Development have expanded the requirement for Certificates of No Harassment to include multiple dwellings in several special districts. Previously the certificate was only required for SRO’s undergoing renovation.


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.


here-codes-the-sun

Here Codes the Sun

Rooftop solar installations are becoming increasingly popular in New York City. Recently the DOB released Buildings Bulletin 2015-024< to address the acceptable panels, their respective installation requirements and the required testing methods.


when-to-declare-property-value-calculations

When to Declare Property Value Calculations?

The Department of Buildings revised and clarified 1 RCNY 3601-01, a rule that addresses application requirements for buildings located in flood zones. The intent of 1 RCNY 3601-01 is to determine whether the work performed in flood zones constitutes a substantial improvement, which is defined as job applications whose total equals 50% or more of a building’s market value.


get-ready-for-inspection-ready-dob

Get Ready For Inspection Ready

The DOB is preparing for its Inspection Ready launch by inviting licensees and building owners to register onto the the portal. The launch of Inspection Ready coheres with the technological overhaul the DOB seeks to undergo as part of its Building One City program.


can-retail-buildings-keep-doors-open-with-the-ac-on

Can Retail Buildings Keep Doors Open with the AC on?

Though leaving the doors of an air conditioned store open may provide pedestrians with needed relief, doing so is a violation of Local Law 38 of 2008. In an effort to become a greener city, the Department of Buildings enacted the local law prohibiting commercial establishments with over 4,000 square feet of retail or wholesale space from leaving doors ajar while air conditioning or central cooling systems are on.


is-your-building-benchmarked

Is Your Building Benchmarked?

As part of its Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, New York City targets its largest buildings for annual energy benchmarking. Backed by Local Law 84, benchmarking requires covered buildings to report their annual usage of water, electricity, natural gas, fuel oil and more.


new-mandatory-cooling-tower-inspections

New Mandatory Cooling Tower Inspections

On August 7th, 2015 the Health Department made mandatory the inspection of all New York City cooling towers within 14 days. The inspection is the result of the recent outbreak of Legionnaires Disease pinpointed to bacteria found in cooling towers. In the last month alone, Legionnaires’ Disease has claimed 10 lives and hospitalized 100, all in the South Bronx.


is-it-legal-to-open-a-fire-hydrant

Is it Legal to Open a Fire Hydrant?

Yes and no. It is illegal to open a fire hydrant by yourself. However, anyone over the age of 18 can fill out a request at their local fire station to have a fire hydrant opened. A firefighter from the station will then open and close the hydrant.


dob-launches-after-hours-inspections

DOB Launches After Hours Inspections

The Department of Buildings launched the first phase of its After Hours Inspection Program on June 1, 2015, continuing its efforts to accelerate job approvals. The program offers after hours and weekend inspections for a fee. In addition to Inspection Ready, which equips inspectors with handheld tablets, the DOB is aiming to reduce wait times for inspections to five days by 2016. In order to meet these goals the DOB plans to hire 34 additional development inspectors.


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.


barbecue-york-city

Barbecue York City

You may want to check the Fire Code before you put those burgers on the grill. The New York City Fire Code allows barbecuing in very few areas.


dob-plans-its-own-renovations

DOB Plans its Own Renovations

The DOB recently released Building One City, its document outlining specific plans for improvements in the next year. The department is scheduled for additional $4.6 million in funding for 2016 and will seek to streamline its services, modernize its technology and take punitive measures against egregious policy violators.


dob-works-overtime

DOB Works Overtime

Don’t worry if you can’t make it to the DOB during normal business hours. Small Business Night, Homeowners Night and Get Back to Building are geared to alleviate the DOB’s overwhelming backlog of application and permit requests by keeping its doors open late.


can-you-put-a-bathroom-in-your-cellar

Can You Put a Bathroom in Your Cellar?

In one- or two-family dwellings, an exception can be made for the ban on full bathrooms in cellars if certain requirements are met. Full bathrooms, or three-fixture bathrooms, are bathrooms containing a lavatory, a water closet and a shower or bathtub. According to Buildings Bulletin 2011-010, in order for a cellar of a one- or two-family residence to qualify for a three-fixture bathroom


bikes-in-the-building

Bikes in the Building

New Yorkers don’t have to lock their bikes outside the office any longer. The Department of Transportation’s Bikes in Buildings program allows tenants in commercial buildings to request bicycle access for their employees.


balconies-exposed

Balconies Exposed

The rescinded DOB memorandum on enclosed balconies (memo June 17, 1976) will make it more difficult to provide the popular amenity in New York City. In order for enclosed balconies to avoid counting toward floor area, they are required to abide by the floor area definition in New York City Zoning Resolution.


the-dob-rescind-bulletin

The DOB’s Rescind Bulletin

The DOB took its annual axe to a host of bulletins, directives, and TPPNs. Techinical bulletins 2014-023 and 2014-024 summarize the outgoing codes. Bulletin 2014-023 lists bulletins, TPPNs, and directives that only rescind prospectively, or for buildings under the 2014 Building Code. For a list of 2014-023’s rescinded codes click here.


short-term-rentals-get-the-3rd-degree

Short-Term Rentals Get the 3rd Degree in NYC

Short-term apartment rentals are on the rise in New York City. According to a recent report by the Attorney General of New York Eric Schneiderman Airbnb in the City, rentals through the popular apartment rental website Airbnb increased 600% over the last four years. The report concludes that many short-term rentals are residential dwellings operating illegally as transient dwellings.


the-state-of-the-dob

The State of the DOB

New Commissioner Rick Chandler gave a State of the DOB address at the Yale Club on December 9th, 2014. Over the last few years, the DOB has seen a boost in job and permit filings. On Tuesday, Mr. Chandler offered solutions for the DOB to streamline its operations and deal with this increase.


the-biggest-hurdle-for-tco

The Biggest Hurdle for TCO’s

Obtaining a temporary certificate of occupancy (TCO) is perhaps the most critical stage of the filing process for change of use projects. Without a TCO a building is not legally habitable. Many factors can prevent the acquisition of a TCO. The most critical, and often the most overlooked, is the signing off open applications with life safety work types.


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.


signs-o-the-times

Signs O’ the Times

The Building Department requires installation of a sidewalk shed to protect pedestrians when a building owner needs to perform repairs on a section of a buildings façade at an elevation more than 40 feet above curb level. This requirement can be problematic to the retail establishments these structures are installed directly in front of.


sign-off-or-start-over

Sign Off or Start Over

New York City property owners in FEMA flood zones filing new alteration applications should sign off their old applications first or face the consequences.


dob-requires-new-report-for-balconies

DOB Requires New Report for Balconies

The amendment of Rule 104-03 in May of 2013 requires balcony inspections be inspected and identified by a Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector (QEWI). The QEWI must submit a supplemental report indicating balconies were inspected and report a status for the balconies in the Cycle 7 report.


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.