Friday, November 16, 2007

Asbestos ACP-5 Exemptions

Replacement of a Rooftop Air Conditioner with no change to Ductwork is exempt from the filing of an Asbestos Report ACP-5.

I am filing my alteration with the NYC Department of Buildings for Permit Issuance. Are there any types of alterations that are exempt from the filing of an ACP-5 Asbestos Report? If so, what is the list of exempted items?

A: As per a previous post, Buildings filed with the DOB after April 1, 1987 do not require an Asbestos Investigation (ACP-5). In addition, the following items are exempt:

Accessory Parking
Candy or News Stands
Change of Use, Legalization, or Certificate of Occupancy requiring No Work
Concrete Work (Exterior)
Curb Cuts
Debris Chutes, where chute will not be used for Asbestos-Containing Materials
Demolition of 1 story Garages, maximum capacity 2 cars, NOT supplied with Water Lines
Elevator Equipment (not including construction and enclosure of Elevator Shaft)
Emergency Power NOT involving hard wiring (i.e. Battery Packs)
Finish Material Installation
Fire Escape Installation
Interior Non-Bearing Partition Installation involving NO penetration of Hung Ceiling
Legalization of Demolition Work which occurred prior to 4/1/1987
Parapet Walls
Radio Antennas (Towers)
Relocating Parking Lot Sheds
Retaining Walls
Roof Decks not anchored to Building Structure
Rooftop Air Conditioning Replacement, not involving modification or Removal of Duct Work
Scaffolding (Exterior)
Sidewalk Cafes
Sidewalk Elevators
Sidewalk Sheds, Bridges, and Fences
Storefront Installation in Existing Masonry Openings
Subdivision of an existing Tax Lot
Temporary Structure Erection (trailers, shanties, etc), supplied with Electric and Water Lines only
Underpinning of Buildings
Water Tank Replacement (Exterior)
Zoning Lot Reapportionment

This information was compiled from DOB OPPN's 1/87, 10/87, and 1/88.

Have a question? E-mail Permitadvisor

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Photo credit Hi-Tech Heating and Air Conditioning

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Deck in a Rear Yard?

Above is a view into typical Brooklyn Brownstone rear yards, showing many decks and roof coverings constructed of combustible materials. Often, these structures have not been constructed legally.

Q: What are the legal requirements for the construction of a Deck in the Rear Yard of a Brownstone-type building?

When considering construction of a Deck, it is necessary to comply with the Department of Buildings requirements for Decks. Legalization of existing Decks can be problematic, because many have not been designed by an Architect or Engineer and no Permit was ever obtained. The NYC Department of Buildings is cracking-down on Deck requirements, as they can be hazardous from a structural or fire safety standpoint when constructed improperly. An Illegal Deck can also be a problem when selling a property or applying for a Certificate of Occupancy.

Below is a listing of the basic Deck requirements, distilled from NYC Department of Buildings Memorandums. New Decks would need to comply with the below in order to obtain Plan Approval. Existing Decks needing to be Legalized would have to be modified (as required) to comply with the below:

Definition of a Deck:
A Deck is a raised floor, supported by structural framing above the surrounding ground at the level of the first story of a house. A Deck must be constructed without a roof. An outdoor structure with a roof is not a Deck. It may be considered an additional room, in which case different zoning rules and NYC Building Code provisions will apply.

Deck Requirements:
1 Only a NYS Registered Architect or Professional Engineer may design a Deck or porch. The Department of Buildings must approve the plans and issue a permit before any work begins.

2 Decks must be located at or below the floor level of the first story of a house.

3 A Deck may project up to eight feet (8’) beyond the face of the building into the required thirty foot (30’) rear yard.

4 There shall be no useable building or storage space underneath the Deck.

4 There must be at least three feet (3’) between the Deck and the SIDE or REAR LOT LINE, unless the Deck is constructed of non-combustible materials, such as steel, in which case it may be closer to the Property Lines.

5 All Decks must have a railing at least 42 inches high.

6 Spaces between railings and/or posts can be no greater than five inches.

7 Elevated Decks must be braced at the columns and where the beams and columns connect.

8 Decks must be able to withstand a minimum of 40 pounds per square foot plus the weight of the Deck. This is the same live load required as for the building itself. Thus, a Deck will usually require a structure as robust as that of the main house’s floor construction, rather than the flimsy, under-structured wood Decks that are commonly seen.

9 Decks must be properly anchored to a house or building. Nailing Decks instead of using proper anchors is a common mistake that often leads to accidents and can cause serious injuries.

10 A homeowner may construct a Deck, but is not allowed to perform plumbing or electrical work. If you use a contractor, the contractor must have a Home Improvement Contractor’s License.

Have a Deck question? E-mail Permitadvisor

Thursday, November 08, 2007

What is a Revocable Consent?

Above is an example sketch of Planters on the Sidewalk requiring Revocable Consent

Q: What is a Revocable Consent? What is required to obtain one?

A: When a Building Owner wishes to construct a portion of their building beyond the Front Lot Line or Street Line, they may be required to obtain a Revocable Consent approval to do so.

The Building Code allows certain, limited projections beyond the Street Line, for both above-ground and below-ground projections. These are covered in 1968 Building Code Subchapter4, Articles 8 & 9. See my entry on Projecting Balconies as an example of a permissible projection not requiring a Revocable Consent.

If, however, the Building Owner wishes to construct beyond the limitations specified in the Building Code, they will need to apply for a Revocable Consent through the NYC-Department of Transportation.

A Revocable Consent is a grant by the City to construct and maintain certain structures on, over, or under City Property (usually the Sidewalk or Street). As the name implies, the City may revoke the grant at any time, and thus oblige the Owner to remove the projection.

The Revocable Consent process takes approximately 4-6 months, longer if a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure is required (ULURP). The ULURP Process adds at least 6 months to the process.

Generally, consents are granted for a term of ten years, at the end of which time they may be renewed. Revocable Consents are distributed to several reviewing agencies, all of which must approve the petition:

-Borough President's Office
-DOT Borough Commissioner
-Department of Environmental Protection
-Department of Buildings
-Art Commission
-Local Community Board
-City Council
-Department of City Planning (for ULURP)

A few examples of structures that commonly require Revocable Cosents:

-A Building Cornice projecting more than 10" beyond the Property Line.
-An Outdoor Bench on the Sidewalk
-An Information Kiosk
-Building Steps or Entrance Details which project more than 18" beyond the Property Line
-Exterior Wheelchair Ramps installed on an existing building which project more than 44" beyond the Property Line.
-Canopies, exceeding the size limitations of a standard Canopy.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Where are Portable Fire Extinguishers required?

Q: In what Occupancies are Portable Fire Extinguishers required?

A: The following information is to the best of my knowledge, and may have been updated or revised. In addition, there may be some special Occupancies where portable fire extinguishers are required that are not listed below (for instance, at Outdoor Sidewalk Cafes with Gas Heaters) However, the below list is a good starting point:


"The owner or occupant of any occupancy or space shall ensure that such occupancy or space is equipped with the portable fire extinguishers as set forth in NFPA Standard 10-1998, except as otherwise required by this subdivision. The NYC FIRE DEPARTMENT may prescribe such other or additional portable fire extinguisher requirements as it determines to be necessary for fire protection purposes, based on the use or configuration of the occupancy or space.

Portable fire extinguishers shall be provided in the following occupancies or spaces:

1. Occupancies or spaces used or classified as OFFICES or PLACES OF WORSHIP, HOTELS and MOTELS shall be provided with one fire extinguisher of minimum 2-A rating for every six thousand (6,000) square feet of floor area or fraction thereof on each floor, except that such a fire extinguisher shall be provided for every twelve thousand (12,000) square feet of floor area or fraction thereof on each floor for occupancies or spaces used as or classified as offices or places of worship in fully sprinklered buildings.

2. ROOMING HOUSES and SINGLE ROOM OCCUPANCIES, as defined in the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law, with over 15 sleeping rooms shall be provided with one fire extinguisher of minimum 2-A rating in the apartment of the manager or the building superintendent.

3. HOSPITALS, NURSING HOMES, HOMES FOR THE AGED, DAY NURSERIES accommodating more than 15 children and asylums shall be provided with one fire extinguisher of minimum 2-A rating for every 2,500 square feet of floor area or fraction thereof on each floor.

4. Places of PUBLIC ASSEMBLY or other occupancies or spaces where 75 or more people congregate, including places for entertainment or amusement, shall be provided with one fire extinguisher of minimum 2-A rating for every 2,500 square feet of floor area or fraction thereof on each floor.

5. Occupancies used or classified as RETAIL STORES or shops shall be provided with one fire extinguisher of minimum 2-A rating for every 2,500 square feet of floor area or fraction thereof on each floor.

6. PIERS, STABLES, WAREHOUSES, MANUFACTURING occupancies and all COMMERCIAL occupancies except stores and office buildings shall be provided with one fire extinguisher of minimum 2-A rating for every 2,500 square feet of floor area or fraction thereof on each floor.

7. Occupancies or spaces used or classified as LUMBER YARDS shall be provided with one fire extinguisher of minimum 2-A rating for every 2,000 square feet of floor area or fraction thereof

8. Occupancies or spaces used or classified as TELEPHONE EXCHANGES shall be provided with portable fire extinguishers suitable for Class A and Class C fires. A fire extinguisher of a minimum 2-A rating shall be provided for every 3,000 square feet of floor area or fraction thereof.

9. STORAGE GARAGES, ELECTRIC POWER PLANTS and occupancies or spaces that manufacture, use or store flammable liquids or mixtures, combustible liquids or mixtures, fats, paints, waxes or similar substances shall be provided with an extinguisher suitable for a Class B fire that shall meet the rating and travel distance requirements for Extra (High) Hazard occupancies as specified in Table 3-3.1 of NFPA Standard 10-1998.

KITCHENS (except those used domestically in residential occupancies, but including those kitchens used communally by the occupants of more than one dwelling unit), shall be provided with an extinguisher suitable for a Class K fire, and shall meet the travel distance requirement of §3-7.2 of NFPA Standard 10-1998. The requirements of sub-paragraph 9 shall be in addition to sub-paragraphs 1-8 of this paragraph."

Contact FDNY with any specific questions, or visit the FDNY Web Site for further information.

Have a question about Fire Extinguishers? E-mail Permitadvisor

Monday, November 05, 2007

What is an As-of-Right Development?

Q: What is an As-of-Right Development?

A: An AS-OF-RIGHT development is a DEVELOPMENT which complies with all applicable zoning regulations and does not require any discretionary action (special permit or variance) by the City Planning Commission or Board of Standards and Appeals for approval.

The significance is as follows:
A Developer acquires a vacant, 2,000 sq ft ZONING LOT in a Residence District which has a Maximum FLOOR AREA RATIO (FAR) of, say 4.0.

To determine the maximum ZONING FLOOR AREA that may be developed on the site, we multiply the LOT AREA (2,000 sq ft) x Maximum FAR (4.0), and we get 8,000 square feet.

When the Developer's Architect files the CONSTRUCTION DOCUMENTS with the NYC Department of Buildings for Plan Approval, the Architect illustrates the above FAR Calculation in his Zoning Analysis.

The NYC Department of Buildings Plan Examiner reviews the plans and finds that the development complies with the applicable FAR requirements. Assuming that the project complies with all other Code and Zoning regulations, the DOB Plan Examiner may APPROVE the Plans, and the Developer may construct the 8,000 sq ft building as-of-right.

It is not necessary for the Developer to seek the additional approval of the City Planning Commission, or of the Local Community Board, or of any other outside party of interest. His development complies with the applicable Zoning Laws currently in force, and he is entitled to build.

There are stories about over-development and upset neighbors witnessing new construction that they find bothersome or too large. Sometimes, it is true, an unscrupulous Developer or Architect has abused the DOB's PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATION* program or exploited a COMMUNITY FACILITY FAR (when the building is not a Community Facility) or has pulled some other 'fast one' that the DOB is likely to catch. But often, the Development is as-of-right.

-For Residents concerned about over-development, gain an understanding of the Zoning Regulations for your District and lobby your Lawmakers to change the Zoning Regulations. Targeting the Developer will not be fruitful if the development complies as-of-right, the plans are approved, and a Work Permit has been issued.

-For Developers, it would usually be unwise not to maximize the potential Zoning Floor Area of the development site.

*Banks often do not accept plans approved under Professional Certification for development financing.

Have a Zoning question? E-mail Permitadvisor

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Fire Escapes as a Means of Egress?

Picture of a Fire Escape on an existing Multiple Dwelling

Q: Are FIRE ESCAPES permitted as a second Means of Egress on New or ALTERED Buildings?

A: As per Building Code Section 27-368, the use of Fire Escapes as a second Means of Egress is very limited:

-Fire Escapes are not permitted on New Buildings, with the exception of GROUP HOMES.

-Fire Escapes may be used as exits on buildings that existed on 12/6/1968, when such buildings are Altered, but only with the approval of the DOB Commissioner (sounds like the topic of a RECONSIDERATION)

When an existing building relies on a FIRE ESCAPE as a second Means of Egress, the Fire Escape needs to be retained, unless the building's egress is upgraded in such a way that the Fire Escape is no longer required (for instance, if an additional, compliant INTERIOR STAIR were installed to serve as a second Means of Egress).

Have a question about Fire Escapes? E-mail Permitadvisor

Friday, November 02, 2007

DOT Permit Holiday Embargo

Q: For Department of Transporation Construction Permits, when does the DOT Holiday Embargo/Moratorium start and end? What locations in New York City does the Embargo effect?

A: See below excerpt from the DOT Website. Refer to the Attachment for Streets affected by the DOT Holiday Embargo :

"2007 Holiday Construction Embargo - This embargo applies to NYCDOT Construction Permits.

A special construction embargo is in effect Friday, November 16, 2007 from 6AM to 11:59 PM and from Tuesday, November 20, 2007 6AM through Wednesday, January 2, 2008 11:59PM for the 2007 Holiday Construction Embargo. There will be strict enforcement of this embargo and violators are subject to be

Street and sidewalk construction will be restricted from 6:00 AM to midnight during the upcoming holiday season on the roadways listed below. Any permits issued prior to the date of this notice for work in the areas listed for the Holiday Embargo which do not already have the Embargo Waiver traffic stipulation "410" are hereby voided for the period of Friday November 16, 2007 from 6AM to 11:59 PM and from Tuesday November 20, 2007 6AM through Wednesday January 2, 2008 11:59PM. The permits will be in effect again on January 3, 2008.

All permittees must comply with this embargo unless a special waiver is granted by OCMC. Waiver requests must be filed by November 9, 2007 with the Permit Office by filing a "Request for Roadway/Sidewalk Permits During Embargo Periods" with supporting documentation. Work may only occur from 12:01 AM to 6:00 AM with the issuance of the necessary permits, no Embargo Waiver request is needed for work during these times. Waiver requests should only be submitted for critical reasons for a specific project. If a waiver is granted, you will be notified
to apply for the approved permits.

Necessary measures must be taken to ensure that all streets and sidewalks are in proper condition to allow for the expeditious and safe movement of vehicular and pedestrian traffic. OCMC will also impose similar restrictions on public utilities and private contractors for those roadways that are listed below by borough. Tool carts, cable reels, containers, and material stored on roadways must be removed during the embargo period. Utility cover openings are prohibited on roadways noted below between the hours of 6:00 AM and midnight unless the utility or contractor can prove an emergency exists.

Notice to All Permit Applicants:
Please note that this year, in accordance with § 4. Subdivision (m) of section 2-02 of Title 34 of the Rules of the City of New York which reads "A request for approval to work during an embargo shall be submitted on a form provided by the Commissioner, along with a fee ($135.00) as specified in §2-03 of these rules. Payment of the application fee shall not guarantee that approval to work during the embargo period will be granted and application fee is in addition to any required permit fees".

A copy of the form "Request for Roadway/Sidewalk Permits During Embargo Periods" is attached. All forms must be filed with the required documents (shown on the form) along with the required fee at our Permit Office, 220 Church Street Ground Floor by Friday, November 9, 2007. Waiver requests should only be presented for critical reasons related to your specific project."