Building in the biggest city in the US requires a building permit to certify that the project is safe and up to code. But how do you apply for and obtain a building permit in NYC?
Use this guide as the starting point in your journey to obtain a NYC building permit. Read on to learn about the Big Apple’s permitting requirements, timelines, fees, and more.
NYC building permit requirements
In New York City, you need a building permit to construct new buildings, install additions on existing buildings, perform significant reconstruction, and demolish existing structures.
Examples of projects that require a building permit in NYC include:
- Building any new residential or commercial structure.
- Converting an existing building to serve a new purpose.
- Adding onto an existing building.
- Demolishing a building.
- Adding large structures, like ADUs or garages, to existing properties.
- Combining apartments.
Do I need a building permit in NYC?
Yes, you need a building permit in NYC before starting most construction projects. However, you don’t need a permit for certain minor alterations.
Examples of projects that don’t require a building permit in New York City include:
- Installing new cabinets.
- Replacing plumbing fixtures.
- Resurfacing floors.
- Non-structural roof repair projects.
- Emergency work, like gas leak repairs and stabilizing unsafe structures.
Note: Even though you don’t need a permit for these projects, the contractor performing the work must have a Department of Consumer Affairs Home Improvement Contractor (HIC) license.
How long do building permits take in NYC?
On average, it takes about 1-3 months to get a building permit in NYC.
Permitting timelines depend on the type of permit you applied for.
Current timelines for the DOB to review an initial permit application are:
- Alt1 (standard filing): 3-4 months
- Alt1 (self-certification): 3-4 weeks
- Alt2 (standard filing): 4-6 weeks
- Landmark approval (standard): 4-6 weeks
- Landmark approval (expedited): 4-7 business days
How much do NYC building permits cost?
NYC building permits range in cost from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Most NYC construction permit fees are assessed on a cost per square footage of the proposed project.
NYC building permit fees depend on:
- The type of permit you need (NB vs. Alt)
- The square footage/size of the proposed construction
- Which specialty permit(s) you need in addition to your NB or Alt permit
What are the different types of building permits in NYC?
There are three main types of building permits in NYC:
- New Building (NB): For projects that involve building a new structure.
- Alteration-CO (Alt-CO): For projects that involve building a new structure or majorly altering an existing structure that will change its use, egress, or occupancy.
- Alteration (Alt): For projects involving multiple types of work that don’t change a building’s use, egress, or occupancy.
Alteration permits are further split into three categories: Alt1, Alt2, and Alt3.
You’ll need an Alt1 permit for any major construction that affects the use, egress, or occupancy of the property, and that results in a new or amended Certificate of Occupancy (CO).
- Converting a building from commercial to residential.
- Adding floors to a building.
- Construction that changes how many people can occupy a space.
- Establishing a Place of Assembly.
You’ll need an Alt2 permit for standard interior demolition or minor renovations that don’t impact the building’s use, egress, or occupancy (and therefore don't require a new or amended CO).
Finally, you’ll need an Alt3 permit for minor alterations that don’t affect use, egress, or occupancy.
- Putting up temporary fencing
- Erecting scaffolding
- Putting up tents
- Cutting a curb
- After hours variance: For projects involving work performed before 7:00 am, after 6:00 pm, or on Saturday or Sunday.
- Asbestos abatement: Applicants seeking a Department permit must first demonstrate that they’ve satisfied the requirements for asbestos abatement.
- Boiler: To ensure boilers comply with DOB’s Building Code.
- Certificate of Occupancy: The primary document to certify the legal use and occupancy of a building.
- Concrete: Concrete used at any building in NYC must be tested to ensure it meets structural design requirements.
- Cranes and derricks: If you’ll be using a crane or derrick to work on your project, you must obtain this permit first.
- Electrical: Electrical permits are required for most projects that involve electrical work.
- Elevator: For projects that involve adding or amending an elevator.
- Limited alteration application: For projects that involve plumbing, fire suppression piping, or oil burners but don’t involve construction work.
- Plumbing: Must be obtained by a Licensed Master Plumber or Fire Suppression Piping Contractor.
- Scaffold and shed: You’ll need this permit before erecting a sidewalk shed or scaffolding over 40 feet tall.
- Sign: You need a permit before posting most signs, and the content of the sign must comply with NYC Construction Codes, the NYC Zoning Resolution, and the Rules of the City of New York.
How to obtain a NYC building permit
A DOB plan examiner will review the application and plans for any legal/zoning objections. When objections are satisfied, the Department will approve the application. A PE or RA may also certify that plans conform to all applicable laws.
To get a building permit in New York City, a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) or Registered Architect (RA) must submit an application to the Department of Buildings.
When submitting your application, you’ll need to include all documents that are marked required “Prior to Approval.” You also must pay any associated fees as designated.
After receiving an application, the DOB reviews it to ensure the project meets safety standards and adheres to all applicable laws and codes.
Once the DOB approves an application, the applicant receives the permit and must post it at the worksite.
How do I check my building permit in NYC?
You can check the status of your NYC building permit online via the DOB NOW platform or via phone by calling the DOB office in the borough where work is to be done.
How long does a NYC building permit last?
Most NYC building permits last for one year but may expire sooner if the applicant’s license or insurance expires before the one-year timeframe.
However, a permit will be automatically extended at no cost if the applicant renews their license or insurance before the permit’s expiration date.
You may renew an expired permit if there has been activity on it within a two-year period of its date.
Working with a NYC permit expediter
New York City has made efforts to simplify permitting by making most processes available online via the DOB NOW platform. However, it can still be confusing and tedious to prepare and submit an application. To simplify things further, you can hire a New York City permit expediter.
A permit expediter is someone you hire to prepare and submit the application on your behalf so that you can get your permit faster with minimal effort. NYC permit expediters should be knowledgeable about the city’s building codes and laws to ensure a well-crafted application.
Simplify the permitting process with PermitFlow
Instead of hiring a permit expediter, go one step further and work with PermitFlow.
PermitFlow’s simple and easy-to-use permitting software automates the permit application process so you can get your permit faster.
Here’s why you should choose PermitFlow:
- Work with permitting experts: PermitFlow’s team of architects, structural engineers, former city planners, and permit specialists understand what it takes to successfully pull a permit in NYC.
- Simplify the process: From PermitFlow’s digital platform, you can submit, track, and obtain a permit without wasting hours navigating the DOB’s website.
- Get your permit faster. PermitFlow streamlines everything to submit and obtain permits as quickly as possible. The faster you get your permit, the sooner you can begin work on your project.