Department of Buildings work permits are required for most construction projects. If the project’s scope requires plans and permits, you must hire a New York State licensed professional engineer (PE) or registered architect (RA).
Construction Permit Applications for Renovations
There are four types of construction permit applications: New Building (NB) and Alterations (ALT) Type 1, 2 and 3.
For commercial tenants, ALT2s are for renovations with multiple types of work that do not change the building’s use, egress (exits) or type of occupancy. Most fit-outs use an ALT2 permit application, which must be filed by a PE or RA. For example, you’ll need an ALT2 when adding a new bathroom, rerouting gas pipes and adding electrical outlets; or moving a load-bearing wall.
Some minor alterations may be done without a work permit. The following are some examples of work that doesn’t need a permit like painting, plastering, installing millwork and installing flooring.
Work Without Permits
It’s illegal to do construction without the Department’s approval or permits. Illegal construction is unsafe and may results in fines.
What is the difference between an Alteration Type-I (Alt-1), Alteration Type-II (Alt-2) and an Alteration Type-III (Alt-3) Application?
DOB divides construction alteration into three types.
An Alteration Type-I Application is required when there is a major change to the Certificate of Occupancy of a building, such as converting it from commercial to residential, an interior conversion of the building or a space within a building, or due to a building addition. Most commonly, an Alteration Type-I Application will be used to change the Maximum Number of Persons for a space, to change the Occupancy or Use Group of a space, and/or to change the Description of a space.
Alteration Type-II Application is an alteration that doesn’t change the use or occupancy of the building but requires several types of work, such as plumbing and construction. An Alteration Type-II Application may be used when there is no change to the Certificate of Occupancy due to the proposed alterations, such as with an interior fitout or alteration. When an Alteration Type-II is filed under Directive-14 (such is the case 99% of the time), the Applicant or other NYS Registered Professional Engineer or Registered Architect may signoff the application with a Directive-14 Final Inspection.
Alteration Type-III is a minor alteration that involves only one type of work, such as a curb cut or a construction fence. ALT-1s and ALT 2s must be filed by a registered architect or licensed engineer; some ALT3s don’t require detailed plans and can be filed by a non-professional.
What is a Directive 14?
Directive 14 – 1975 authorizes an Architect or Engineer to ‘sign off’ the construction in place of the Department of Building’s Inspector. This legislation was necessitated by the fact that the volume of construction grew far in excess of the number of available Inspectors. The Buildings Department offers a Professional Certification Program which enables Registered Architects (RA) and Professional Engineers (PE) to certify that the plans they are filing with the Department are in compliance with applicable laws. Plans that are professionally certified do not go through plan review.
10/16/14 Update: Thank you to my readers for making this the most popular article on the blog. I am regularly asked by readers to provide input on specific code issues for their projects. As I am not an Expeditor or Code Compliance Officer, I cannot provide advice or direction. This article was written with input from code professionals. If you do have specific code questions, I urge you to direct them to your local building department or Expeditor who can answer your question with authority.