How to get a Building Permit in New York City
Getting a building permit requires effort. The New York City (NYC) Department of Buildings (DOB) issues permits after applications are submitted by professionals and are approved by the DOB. All plans and paperwork must comply with applicable codes and regulations. Care must be taken to fill out forms correctly, as small mistakes can prevent approval and generate significant delays.
Once construction drawings and paperwork are finished by a Registered Architect (RA) or Professional Engineer (PE), the application is submitted to the DOB for approval. Applications can be certified by a PE or RA or by a DOB plan examiner. In either case, applications must be approved by the DOB before a permit can be pulled. The paperwork describes the work being done. All forms and drawings must have a DOB job number sticker on them.
Here is the process an expeditor or architect goes through to get the plans approved.
Pre-file application. Get a Pre-file ticket on the 3rd floor (280 Broadway, NY NY), wait to be called. While waiting for your number to be called, put DOB job stickers on all drawings and paperwork. When your number is called go quickly to see the clerk and submit drawings and paperwork. Applications may be rejected if not on the right forms. Forms must be the most recent ones from the DOB website.
Applications are either professionally certified (pro-cert) by an architect or engineer or certified by a NYC DOB plan examiner. Either way the idea is to make sure the application complies with the NYC building codes. Other city departments may certify other related applications like the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) in the case of sidewalks or the Fire Department (FD) NYC (FDNYC) in the case of sprinklers and standpipes. If the application is pro-cert, the expeditor or file representative or architect takes the pre-filed application to another set of clerks who process the application further. Get an A ticket from the 4th floor and see the clerks on the 3rd floor. In the case of a pro-cert application, the clerk checks for all required documents and enters them into this Building Information System (BIS). If all required documents aren’t in the application, the clerk may not approve the application. If all documents are there, pay the fee, stamp the plans and folder with DOB approval stamp and professionally certified stamp, give one set of stamped plans to the clerk, and retain 2 sets of stamped plans. Often one set of plans is kept by the RA or PE and another set of plans for the client, often the owner of a building or apartment.
If the application is certified by a plan examiner, which is the case for jobs that affect the building’s use, egress or occupancy, the application is pre-filed in a similar way, however the approval process is different. After the application is pre-filed, submit plans, paperwork and payment to the clerk. If all required documents are there, the clerk takes the paperwork and one set of drawings. The drawings and folder are given to a NYC DOB plan examiner. The plan examiner looks at the drawings and makes a list of objections. Within 1-4 weeks or longer, the drawings may be picked up at the NYC DOB records room. Get a K ticked on the 3rd floor if its in Manhattan. The drawings are often rejected. The applicant sets up an appointment with a plan examiner to address objections with a new set of plans. If all objections are corrected, the plan examiner stamps three sets of drawings and the application is approved. If not, the applicant must listen closely to the examiner to find out how to get the application approved.
Once the examiner certified or professionally certified application is finished, the applicant submits paperwork to another clerk to get a permit. If all required documents have been submitted, the NYC DOB issues a permit and construction may begin.
The information below is from a pamphlet from the New York City Department of Buildings
Most construction work requires a permit from the New York City Department of Buildings (NYC DOB). Almost always a Registered Architect (RA) or Professional Engineer (PE) must file plans and pull permits before work begins.
There are many different types of permits including: boiler, elevator and plumbing. The most common Include: New Building (NB) and Alterations Type-1, 2 and 3:
NB Construction of new buildings
ALT1: Major alterations that will change use, egress or occupancy
ALT2: Multiple work types, not affecting use or egress
ALT 3: One work type not effecting egress or occupancy.
Hiring an Architect or Engineer
A PE or RA is required to make and submit construction drawings and applications. Alt 3s are an exception. Professionals may self certify their applications comply with local laws and buildings codes or plan examiners will certify compliance.
Hiring a Contractor
The NYC DOB issues licenses, registrations and certifications to prevent unqualified people from putting New Yorkers at risk. the License Search program at nyc.gov/buildings provides information on licenses, registrations and certification. Other City agencies also have licensing requirements. For example, home improvement contractors must have a Department of Consumer Affairs license, which you can check at nyc.gov/consumers.
The correct permit application may depend upon whether the owner will change the property’s use, egress or occupancy.
Minor Alterations Without a Permit
Some minor work does not require a permit: a PE, RA or Department borough office manager can explain the exceptions. For example, installing new kitchen cabinets doesn’t require a permit but contractors must have a DCA home improvement contractor’s license.
Filing and Records Management Fees
A PE, RA or contractor can estimate these fees.
Plan Examiner Review and Approval
Plan approval time depends upon the project’s complexity and the issues–or objections–to be resolved.
Pulling Permits and Permit Duration
Once the application is approved, the applicant or contractor may pull work permits by submitting the required documents and paying the associated fees.
Final Inspection and Certificates of Occupancy
The Department must inspect completed work, but in some cases the PE or RA may self-certify its compliance with all applicable laws and codes. New Building or ALT1 applications must have a new or amended Certificate of Occupancy –or CO–describing the property’s legal use and occupancy. The Department issues a Letter of Completion for ALT2 and ALT3 applications.
Overview: Permits and Your Project
Determine necessary permits, then file applications and construction drawings.
Obtain Department plan approval.
File and pull permits.
Perform approved work.
Pass the final inspections.
Receive a new or amended Certificate of Occupancy or Letter of Completion.
Disclaimer: We make an effort to make sure the information is correct. Procedures at the NYC DOB can change on a daily basis. The basic ideas are here, getting an application approved can be a long arduous process.