New York Building Codes

New York Department of Buildings

The New York Department of Buildings ensures the safe and lawful use of over 950,000 buildings and properties by enforcing the City's Building Code, Electrical Code, Zoning Resolution, New York State Labor Law and New York State Multiple Dwelling Law. The Department's main activities are performing plan examinations, issuing construction permits, inspecting properties, and licensing trades. The Department also issue Certificates of Occupancy and Place of Assembly permits.

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The New York Building Department's most frequent customers are building owners, developers, architects, engineers and members of the construction industry. Anyone who intends to demolish, alter, build an addition or erect a new structure must obtain a building permit from the Department to ensure that the resulting house, loft, apartment, office, garage, house of worship or any other residential, commercial or industrial structure complies with all applicable laws. Fees are based on the size of the structure for new buildings/enlargements or, for alteration or demolition work, the estimated cost of the project.

To obtain building permits, the plans for constructing a building or making an alteration other than an ordinary repair must typically be prepared by a New York State licensed Professional Engineer (PE) or Registered Architect (RA), who is typically retained by the owner. The PE or RA then submits the plans to the Department on behalf of the owner. If the Department’s plan examiner has any legal objections to the application or plans, they are presented to the project PE or RA for resolution. Once the Department’s objections have been satisfied, the application and plans are approved. Plans may also be professionally certified by the owner’s PE or RA as conforming to all applicable laws in which case the Department does not review the plans prior to approval. See our Professional Certification program for more information.

In addition to Building Department approval, some structures may need additional approvals and permits. For example, if a premises is landmarked or within a historic district, permission from the Landmarks Preservation Commission must be obtained before the alteration or construction begins. Many construction projects also routinely require permits from other City agencies before construction can start. Under Express Service, some of these approvals (for sewer connections, drainage, septic and builders pavement plans formerly issued by the Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Transportation) can now be obtained at the Department of Buildings. Applications for permits to construct on waterfront property are processed by Department of Small Business Services (DSBS, formerly known as the Department of Ports and Trades) staff located at the Department of Buildings. See list of our locations and contact information.

A work permit will only be issued to a contractor who is licensed and/or who has insurance, with a limited exception for work being done by a homeowner in his or her own home. To learn more about filing an application or getting a permit, check out our Building Knowledge series or visit our Applications and Permits page.

If the planned construction will result in a change of use, egress or occupancy, a new or amended Certificate of Occupancy (“C of O”) is necessary. This is a document issued by the Department of Buildings indicating the legal use of a property. A new building cannot be legally occupied until a Certificate of Occupancy has been issued. See Certificates of Occupancy for more information.

A special permit called a Place of Assembly permit (“PA”) may also be required for premises where 75 or more members of the public gather indoors or 200 or more gather outdoors, for religious, recreational, educational, political or social purposes, or to consume food or drink. In order to have a legal Place of Assembly, certain Fire and Building Code requirements must be fulfilled. See Places of Assembly for more information.

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