Work Permits Get Permission or Get Fined

If you're planning a renovation project, either on your own as an individual apartment owner or as a member of your building's board, you know there's a lot to think about and arrange for long before the actual work begins. You particular project could range from minor plumbing work to an overhaul of your building's entire façade, but before any work on the property begins, you'll have to determine whether you need a work permit, obtained through the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB). Most projects - other than general maintenance replacement and cosmetic work - do require at least this basic permit.

Although property owners ultimately bear the legal responsibility for obtaining the correct permits for their job, most arrange for their contractors to procure the necessary documentation on their behalf before a job begins. The contract between the owner, contractor and any design professionals should clearly state who will obtain the permits.

"The work permit is the work permit, regardless of the size of the job," says David Pfeffer, an attorney with LePatner & Associates, a Manhattan-based law firm that often assists owners, condos and co-ops through the construction process. "Certain projects may also require other additional permits - demolition, elevator, highway department, electrical, plumbing, equipment use, temporary sidewalk, sidewalk bridge, street closing, sidewalk closing, crane, and so forth."

For those trying to determine whether their project requires a permit, the New York City Building Code (Sections 27-124 and 27-125) explains minor alterations and repairs. According to Pfeffer, generally, cosmetic details such as painting, plasterwork, flooring, tile work, and cabinetry installation are examples of jobs that do not require a DOB permit. By contrast, changes in layout and the relocation or reconstruction of partitions or doorways would require a permit - except in one- and two-family residences when the wall in question is a non-bearing wall that doesn't increase the room count. In multiple dwellings with more than two units, reconfiguring the apartment's partitions or layout does require a permit. For more information on the construction, plumbing and electrical permit process, check the DOB's Web site at

http://www.NYC. gov/buildings, where you can find pamphlets that explain general permit regulations and required forms that can be downloaded from the Resources link. This site also allows you to check on the status of your pending application. You should also contact your building's managing agent, who can help you determine if a permit is required for the work you're considering.The City's Role

If you still need to find a contractor, check the DOB's Web site for those who have the correct licensing and the appropriate insurance, such as worker's compensation, liability and disability. Home improvement contractors are licensed through the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs, while architects and engineers are licensed through the New York State Department of Education. Permits are issued only to those contractors and other professionals who are licensed and insured. You can also check the DOB Web site for disciplinary actions that have been levied against licensed contractors, such as plumbers, electricians and other tradesmen. And before hiring a plumber or other licensees, you can contact the DOB's Licensing Division at (212) 566-4100 to verify if the licensee has a valid license and proof of insurance before you sign the contract.


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  • how do i apply for a work permit to work in new york
  • I understand that pluming and electrical permit. But I am not still clear, what purpose of DOB permit. It said as basic work permit.. Is it just filing purpose? What does the building benefit from filing this if a tenant does a renovation. "It can jeopardize the physical and financial health of a building." The penalty may be paid by the tenant. What if without work permit but they obtain pluming and electrical permit?
  • Do i need a work permit if i put up walls in a loft space but do not need electric or plumbing??
  • I have a NYC Home Improvement Lic and is doing work on a renovation in a coop. There is an architect involved with plans. What papers do I need to submit to the DOB and can you company submitt the paperwork for me and can you send me a list of what and how the paper work has to be submitted. Thank You
  • Is it legal for a New Jersey building contractor and a licensed New Jersey plumber to do work in a New York City coop without a NYC license??