Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Intumescent Paint for Fire Protection

Q: What is Intumescent Paint? How do I know if it can be used for my NYC Construction Project?

A: Intumescent means "swelling and charring when exposed to flame". When exposed to fire, the coating will rapidly react, becoming a compact foam, dense carbon char, or similar, to stop fire migration.

Intumescent Paint is a paint coating applied to Structural Members in order to afford them a Fire Resistance Rating. It is ususally employed as a remedial measure to enable exposed (unprotected) structural memebers to achieve a required fire resistance rating.

For instance, exposed wood joists and subflooring might be treated with intumescent paint (rather than installing a fire rated gypsum board ceiling assembly to encapsulate them) to achieve a vertical fire separation rating.

Intumescent Paint products must have an MEA (Materials and Equipment Acceptance) Number to qualify as an approved means of rating structural members. The paint must be applied and utilized in a manner consistent with the MEA Approval.

MEA Numbers for Intumescent Paint may be verified by lookup on the Department of Building Website. Check the MEA Index, and search under the "Fire Protection" heading to find approved Intumescent Paints and their respective MEA Numbers and MEA Approval documents.

The MEA Number must be listed on the DOB Drawings and Construction Documents when filing for approval and permit.

Here is a sample MEA-Approval for an Intumescent Paint product.
Photo above of an Intumescent Paint Application from Albi Manufacturing

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Projecting Balconies

Richard Meier's New Building on Prospect Park showing a nice use of Projecting Balconines beyond the Street Line

Q: Can a Balcony Project beyond the FRONT LOT LINE or STREET LINE? If so, how far?

A: As per the NYC 1968 Building Code, Balconies, including their railings and supporting brackets, may project up to 22 inches beyond the STREET LINE. There are also many Zoning Regulations to consider for Balconies. In most cases, Balconies must be located at or higher than the floor level of the third story of a Building or at least 20 feet above CURB LEVEL. The aggregate length of Balconies cannot exceed 50% of the length of the Building Wall from which they project.

Check the Zoning Regulations for additional Balcony requirements.

Ref: Building Code Section 27-313
Zoning Resolution Section 23-13

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Q: Does the above 'Grand Theft Auto' mural, being painted on the side of a building on Houston Street, count as a Sign for Zoning purposes? Is it subject to the Sign Regulations and Area Limitations of the Zoning Resolution?

A: This is in fact a SIGN, specifically an ADVERTISING SIGN, and it would need to comply with the Advertising Sign regulations for the applicable Zoning District.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Roof Access for Interior Stairs

Q: When is it required for INTERIOR STAIRS to provide Roof Access?

A: Interior Stairs shall provide Roof Access as follows:

-At least one Interior Stair shall provide Roof Access in buildings or building sections greater than 3 stories or 40' high, when the roof has a slope of less than twenty degrees. Access to setback roof areas may be through a door or window opening to the roof. Interior stairs extending to roofs shall be enclosed in bulkheads of fire-resistant construction.

-All Interior Stairs in buildings classified in J-1 (Transient Residential) or J-2 (Permanent Residential, 3 or more Dwelling Units), which are more than 2 stories in height, with a roof having a slope of 15 degrees or less, shall provide Roof Access, except where the Stair terminates at a Setback Roof. Stairs shall extend to the roof in bulkheads of fire-resistive construction. Stairs terminating at the level of a setback roof shall provide access to the setback roof areas through a door except where the setback is less than 4' in width and less than 10' in length, as measured from the inside of the parapet wall.

-In buildings or in building sections classified in occupancy group J-1 two stories in height and in occupancy group J-2 three stories in height with not more than one dwelling unit per story with roofs having a slope of fifteen degrees or less, access to the roof shall be provided through a scuttle at least 21" in width and 28" in length. Scuttles shall be located within each stair enclosure with a stationary iron ladder leading to them.

Reference 1968 NYC Building Code Section: 27-375(k) for full details

Monday, October 15, 2007

What is a WIDE STREET?

Prospect Park West in Park Slope, Brooklyn (shown above) is a nice example of a WIDE STREET

Polhemus Place in Park Slope, Brooklyn (shown above) is a nice example of a NARROW STREET

Q: What is the definition of a WIDE STREET? Does street width include the width of the Sidewalk?

A: A WIDE STREET is a Street that is 75' Wide or more. Streets less than 75' wide are NARROW STREETS. When determining Street Width, include the width of the sidewalk. It is important to determine whether your proposed DEVELOPMENT is located on a WIDE STREET or a NARROW STREET, as the FAR and HEIGHT AND SETBACK requirements vary depending on what type of street the DEVELOPMENT SITE is located on.

For the full definition of a WIDE STREET, and many more useful permit definitions, visit our other blog:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Applicability of NYS Energy Code to NYC Projects

Q: When is the NYS Energy Code applicable to New York City Projects?

A: The following buildings must comply with the noted provisions of the Energy Conservation Construction Code of New York State:

-1- and 2-family detached residential buildings and all residential buildings of three stories or less must comply with Chapters 4, 5 or 6 of the Energy Conservation Construction Code of New York State (ECCCNYS)

-All other buildings, including residential buildings four stories or higher and excluding 1- and 2-family detached residences four stories or higher, must comply with Chapters 7 or 8 of the ECCCNYS

-Except where explicitly stated in the Code, ECCCNYS is not retroactive in existing buildings;

-Additions to existing buildings must comply with the ECCCNYS with respect to new construction;

-Alterations must comply with the Energy Code where 50% or more of any building system or subsystem, measured in appropriate units, is being replaced within any 12-month period, with some exceptions;

-In mixed-use buildings, each major use shall comply with the requirements of its occupancy.

The following buildings are exempt from the provisions of the ECCCNYS:

-Buildings with a peak design rate of nonrenewable energy usage less that 3.4 Btu/h/SF;

-Buildings whose energy usage for heating and/or cooling is entirely supplied from renewable energy sources;

-Historic buildings (see ECCCNYS § for detail);

-Nonresidential farm buildings (see ECCCNYS § for detail).

All New Building and Alteration Type-I Applications must now include an Energy Code statement on the plans and Applications:

"To the best of my knowledge, belief and professional judgment, these plans and specifications are in compliance with the Energy Conservation Construction Code of New York State, using Chapter ____.”

As of September 4, 2007, the Professional Statement and the Energy Analysis will be listed as a Required Item for New Buildings and Alteration Type 1 projects. Alteration Type 2 and Alteration Type 3 OT projects will have the same listed required items in November, 2007.

Excerpts from DOB Web site

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Stairs with Handrails on Both Sides?

Q: For an Exit Stair, when is it necessary to provide Handrails on both sides?

A: Stairs 44 inches wide and wider require a handrail on both sides. Stairs narrower that 44 inches only require a handrail on one side.

Stairs more than 88 inches wide need intermediate handrails dividing the stair into widths not greater than 88 inches nor less than 44 inches.

This is as per BC Section §27-375(f)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Fire Separations for Cellar Stairs

Q: Do Cellar Stairs need to be fire-separated from Stairs serving upper floors of the building?

A: Yes, Cellar Stairs need to be fire-separated from stairs serving upper-floors of the building, with a minimum of 1-hour fire rated construction and a 3/4-hr fpsc door. Except that this separation is not required in J-3 Residential Buildings (One- or Two-Family Dwellings), and in G-School (Educational) Buildings. Refer to Building Code Section 27-364-Exit Discharge for the exact wording/requirements

Balcony Enclosures?

Q: Is it permitted under any circumstance to enclose a Balcony? If so, are there any special considerations to such enclosures?

A: The Department permits lightweight, readily removable balcony enclosures, not considered a permanent part of the building. This is as per a DOB Memo dated 6/17/1976. Balcony enclosures shall comply with the following criteria:

1. The enclosure must be of lightweight, non-combustible construction.
2. The enclosure assembly must not include masonry or insulation.
3. The enclosure must contain operable windows to provide 10% light and 5% ventilation to both the balcony and the room opening onto the balcony.
4. The existing balcony parapet or railing must remain intact.
5. The enclosure shall be anchored and designed to resist Wind Loads and Lateral Loads.
6. Plumbing, heating, ventilation or air conditioning systems must not extend into the balcony (except for the mandatory retention of balcony drains)
7. Additional dead load consisting of flooring, subflooring or soil shall not be added to the balcony. Furniture shall be restricted to the lightweight "lawn type" variety.