Renovations and Local Law 58

In 1987, New York passed Local Law 58, a landmark law mandating that residences be built to accommodate the handicapped.  Upper level floors, for instance, had to be accessible by elevator, and doors needed to be wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair.   However, if you suspect many apartments still don’t seem very wheelchair-friendly, you’d be right.

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The Different Types of Building Permits

For any non-cosmetic construction work, the Department of Buildings must grant the project governmental approval by issuing building permit.  There are two different types of permits the DOB grants, new building and alteration permits, with three different levels of the latter.  Which type of permit (Alteration Type 1, Type 2, or Type 3) depends on the level of work being done.

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The Three Types of Development Rights Transfer

Popular perception of New York paints the city as a land of towering skyscrapers and sleek, shiny offices, but a quick walk through a neighborhood like Chelsea quickly dispels that notion.  Most of the buildings there are stout, short, even tiny compared to the skyscrapers of the Financial District.  At the time many of them were built, New York City’s zoning code was far more The comparatively tiny buildings are that size in part due to New York City’s Zoning Resolution, which dictates the square footage of a building.

However, not all buildings in New York use the total square footage allotted to them by the Zoning Resolution for a variety of reasons.  Under the Zoning Resolution, these buildings have what’s called “unused development rights,” which they can transfer to other, nearby buildings under special circumstances.
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Greener, Greater Buildings Plan

Harkening calls to reduce New York City’s impact on the environment and role in climate change, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a goal in 2009 to reduce the city’s greenhouse emissions 30% by 2030.  Most of the city’s current GHG emissions—about three-quarters’ worth—currently come from buildings, however, making tackling current buildings’ energy efficiency a necessity.   To achieve Bloomberg’s ambitious goal, city legislature passed a set of four laws collectively known as the “Greener, Greater Buildings Plan” that encourages bigger buildings to improve their energy efficiency.  These regulations only apply to buildings larger than 50,000 gross square feet and two or more buildings on a single lot that are larger than 100,000 square feet combined.

Below are the four major laws:

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Most Common Problems with Places of Assembly

Emergencies requiring quick exit from a building can quickly turn catastrophic when there are many people on the premises.  As a result, the Department of Buildings holds buildings with a Place of Assembly permit to a high standard, and it’s easy to get written up.  Here are the most common problems throughout the PACO permit application process, as identified by the DOB:

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Renewing Permits

Normally, the Department of Buildings requests that if you want to renew a permit, you submit a PW2 Work Permit Application (PW2) at least two weeks the expiration date.  However, it’s still possible to renew expired permits under certain conditions.   As long as you have there has been active work on your project in the past two years since the permit expired, you can receive a renewal.   However, regardless of whether you’re renewing an active or expired permit, certain situations require more information in order to be granted a renewal.

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