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FAQs - A to L

 A 

Q - I want to make a complaint regarding an Adult bookstore, video store, theater or eating or drinking establishment. Who do I contact?

A –Call 311

Q - Where do I submit emergency Limited Alteration Application (LAAs)?

A - These should be submitted by mail or fax to the centralized LAA Unit

Q - Are there renewals for Limited Alteration Application (LAAs)?

A - No, currently only initial and corrected LAAs can be filed.

Q - What are the filing fees for Limited Alteration Application (LAAs)?

A - The filing fees for LAAs are based on the estimated cost of the job and the type of occupancy classification of the building.

Q - Do I need to file an application with DOB to install a boiler in a building with "mixed use" (residential and commercial use)?

A - YES. But specific issues pertaining to "mixed use" buildings should be referred to the Boiler Division.

Q - How long do I have to wait to see a plan examiner for an appointment?

A - It depends on the demand. Appointments are scheduled up to two months in advance.

Q - Where do I get the application forms to file for elevators/boilers?

A - Elevator applications and forms (ELV1 and ELV15) are available online or at 280 Broadway, 4th floor; boiler applications (PW1) are available at either 280 Broadway, 4th floor or in the borough office. All forms and instructions are available in the Development - Forms section.

Q - How do I file an elevator application?

A - Elevator applications (ELV1 and ELV15) can be filed at 280 Broadway, 4th floor. All forms and instructions are available in the Development Forms section.

Q – How do I file an electrical application?

A - Electrical Application forms (BEC16A) are available at 280 Broadway, 4th floor. Electrical applications can be filed in person or mailed to 280 Broadway, 4th floor. Forms must be completed by a licensed electrician. 

Q - Who do I contact to cancel an electrical application?

A - Contact the borough office in which the work was to take place for a cancellation.

Q - How do I make an appointment with a plan examiner?

A – Appointments with plan examiners can be scheduled by calling 311.

Q - How do I make an appointment for a Plumbing inspection?

A - Call the Department of Buildings Call Center

Q - How do I make an appointment with the Borough Commissioner and/or the Deputy Borough Commissioner?

A - Contact the applicable borough office to make an appointment. 

Q - How do I make an appointment for an electrical, elevator or construction inspection?

A - Call the appropriate borough office to schedule an inspection.

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 B 

Q - What is my boiler number?

A - Your boiler number is an identification provided by the Department that identifies a specific boiler in a building.

Q - Do I have any violations on my boiler or elevator?

A - You can find out if you have any violations by researching information in the DOB's Public Access computers located in the borough office. You will need the address where the boiler or elevator is located. You can also use the Department's online Building Information System. 

Q - Are there detailed Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the use of the Building Information System ?

A - There is a detailed BIS FAQ.

Q - Do I need a permit to install an elevator or boiler?

A - YES – An elevator application (form ELV1 and ELV15) or a boiler application (form PW1) permit must be filed at the Department of Buildings 280 Broadway - 4th floor by your elevator company or contractor/boiler installer.

Q - Do I need to file an application with the Buildings Department to install a boiler in a building with "mixed use" (residential and commercial use)?

A - YES – But specific issues pertaining to "mixed use" buildings should be referred to a Department of Buildings' Boiler Division technical person. They can be reached at 212 566-5430.

Q - What do I need for a builders pavement filing?

A - A builders pavement plan is generally filed by a professional engineer or registered architect. For lots fronting fully developed sidewalks, curbs and roadways you will need an architectural survey taken or updated within the last 2 years. You will also need 35 mm photographs of the sidewalk, curb and roadway along with a completed builders pavement check list. For lots fronting undeveloped sidewalks, curbs or roadways you will need a standard builders pavement plan. Additional information and forms are available in the Department of Buildings borough office where the work will be performed.

Q - What is the cost for the builders pavement filing?

A - The cost is $8.00 per linear foot of road frontage along your lot line.

Q - May I tie up a barge or boat to a pier or bulkhead on or adjoining my property?

A – Yes, subject to the jurisdiction of other agencies of the State and Federal Governments and the rules and regulations of the Waterfront Permits Unit. 

Q - What does the Building Enforcement Safety Team (BEST) do?

A - The BEST Squad’s responsibilities include inspecting high rise construction sites ("Site Safety" buildings) and private demolition projects. Site Safety buildings are new buildings of 15 stories or 200 feet and taller, or lot coverage of 100,000 square feet or more.

Q - How can I find the block and lot of an address to file any job?

A - The block and lot information can be accessed through the Department’s Building Information System.

Q - How do I get a copy of the NYC Building Code ?

A - A published version of the NYC Building code can be purchased at the New York CITYSTORE. In addition, an electronic version of the NYC Building Code is also available for review, at no cost.

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 C 

Q - What are the reqirements for installing a Carbon Monoxide Detector?

A - Read Carbon Monoxide Detector Guidelines for Homeowners and Tenants for more details. Also check out Buildings' Publication on Carbon Monoxide Detector.

Q - Why doesn’t my building have a Certificate of Occupancy?

A - Buildings built prior to 1938 that have had no changes made to their occupancy or egress since then, do not require Certificates of Occupancy.

Q - When is a Certificate of Occupancy not required?

A - When construction work taking place does not change the use, egress or occupancy of the building.

Q - Who/where do I call to register a complaint after 4:30 p.m. or on the weekend?

A - For a non-emergency call 311. Always call 911 to report an emergency.

Q - What is the process to have a construction inspector respond to a complaint?

A - To register a complaint, call 311. Use the Department’s online Buildings Information System to find out the status of an existing complaint.

Q - How can I find out if there are any outstanding complaints against licensed plumbers, licensed electricians and home improvement contractors?

A - For complaints about plumbers and electricians, please contact the Buildings Special Investigations Unit (BSIU) in writing at 83 Maiden Lane, 4th Floor NY, NY 10038. For complaints about home improvement contractors, contact the Department of Consumer Affairs at 311. 

Q - How can I professionally certify my job with objections?

A - You can professionally certify if you are a licensed Registered Architect or Professional Engineer. You must indicate this at the time of pre-filing and proceed in accordance with Operational Policy & Procedure Notice # 2/95

Q - Who/where do I call to register a complaint after 4:30 p.m. or on the weekend?

A – Always call 311 to register a complaint. 311 processes complaints 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays.

Q - Who do I contact to cancel an electrical application?

A - Contact the borough office in which the work was to take place for a cancellation.  

Q - How do I get a "curb cut" permit?

A – File an application document (PW1), a recent survey, a drawing of the planned curb cut and a filing fee with the Department. After the plan is approved, a permit can be obtained. You don’t need the professional services of a Registered Architect (RA) or Professional Engineer (PE).

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 D 

Q - What’s the difference between a demolition and an alteration?

A - Demolition is the removal of the entire building, including the foundation. In an alteration you may remove interior and exterior walls, but not the entire foundation. An alteration can also be the addition of stories; an enlargement; or a new structure built on top of an existing foundation.

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 E 

Q - What is eFiling?

A - For more information on eFiling, check out eFiling FAQ.

Q - What is my elevator device number?

A - Your elevator device number is located on the inspection certificate located either in the elevator or in the building manager’s office. It identifies the type of elevator, the borough location and the number assigned to the device by the Department of Buildings.

Q - Do I have any violations on my boiler or elevator?

A - Visit the nearest borough office and research information through the Department of Buildings Buildings Information System. To obtain a copy of a violation or to get specific information regarding a violations, visit the Elevator or Boiler Divisions at 280 Broadway, 4th floor. Also, review "Resolving Department of Buildings Violations (PDF)." 

Q - Do I need a permit to install an elevator or boiler?

A – Yes. An elevator application permit (form ELV1 and ELV15) and the boiler application (PW1) must be filed at 280 Broadway, 4th floor by your elevator company or contractor/boiler-installer. 

Q - Do I need to file with Buildings for an installation of any elevator "device" if it is in a private residence?

A – Yes. You need to file with the Department of Buildings and have an initial inspection.

Q - Do I need a permit to renovate, remodel or remove an elevator?

A – Yes. An application permit (ELV1 and ELV15) must be filed at 280 Broadway, 4th floor.

Q - Where do I get the application forms to file for elevators/boilers?

A - Application forms (ELV1 and ELV15) can be obtained at 280 Broadway, 4th floor; Boiler application forms they can also be obtained at any borough office.  

Q - How do I file an elevator application?

A - Elevator applications (forms ELV1 and ELV15) can be filed at 280 Broadway, 4th floor. Instructions on how to complete the application forms as well as the forms themselves are available at 

Q - How do I get my elevator inspected and when will the inspectors arrive?

A - The NYC Building Code requires 3 inspections within 2 years. Inspections are performed through a computerized routing system; specific inspection dates are not given to the public or owner. To register a complaint about an elevator call 311.

Q - I need someone to fix/repair my elevator.

A – The Department of Buildings does not repair elevators; it only inspects them. To register a complaint about an elevator that is not working properly, call 311.

Q - Someone is stuck in the elevator. What do I do?

A - Call 911 and then try to find someone who works in the building, such as the superintendent or managing agent, who may be able to assist you.

Q - Where are the Environmental Control Board (ECB) hearing offices located?

A - Call 311 for the Environmental Control Board office nearest you.

Q – How do I file an electrical application?

A - Electrical application forms (BEC16A) are available at 280 Broadway, 4th floor. Electrical applications can be filed in person or mailed to 280 Broadway, 4th floor. Forms must be completed by a licensed electrician.

Q – How do I obtain a permit to do electrical work?

A - Once the application is approved, a permit will be mailed to the licensed electrician, authorizing the start of work.

Q - What kind of electrical work requires a permit?

A - Most electrical work requires an application to be filed by the licensed electrician. A permit will be issued, an inspection must take place, and a certificate should be issued. Minor work, which is limited in scope, requires filing (with a lower filing fee) and a permit, but no inspections is required and no certificate is issued. Maintenance work must also be filed, but there is no fee, permit or inspection. For questions about electrical applications and permits, contact the Department of Buildings Electrical Unit

Q - Who do I contact to cancel an electrical application?

A - Contact the borough office in which the work was to take place for a cancellation.

Q - What do I do if I need to perform emergency electrical work?

A - A licensed electrician can prefile an application for emergency electrical work by submitting a prefile request form (BEC56) by phone or by fax, in order to obtain a temporary permit. The licensed electrician must file a full application to the Electrical Unit within 10 days of temporary permit issuance. 

Q - How do I resolve an electrical violation?

A - See the "Resolving Department of Buildings Violations (PDF)".

Q - Who should I call with questions about my electrical firm account statement?

A - Contact the Licensing Unit. Also check out the Electrical Firm Account FAQ.

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 F 

Q – I have a question about a bill I received for an annual marquee permit, annual illuminated sign permit, place of assembly inspection fee, boiler inspection fee, or elevator inspection fee. Who do I contact?

A - Contact the Department’s Central Filing and Billing Unit

Q – I think that work is being done without an application having been filed or a permit having been issued. What should I do?

A - You may file a complaint by calling 311. An inspector will review the complaint, perform an inspection if necessary, and issue a violation if warranted.

Q - What kind of forms do I need to perform construction work in my home or building?

A - A PW-1 form is always required. Additional forms, depending on the work to be done, may also be required. Be advised that a licensed Registered Architect or Professional Engineer must submit these forms on behalf of a homeowner for most types of work. Appropriate insurance must be held by all potential permittees unless the permittee is a homeowner who will be performing the work himself on his own home. In that case, a waiver from the Worker’s Compensation Board must be submitted.

Q - My job was filed but has not been approved. What is the status?

A - You can check the latest status of your job by checking Department’s Buildings Information System. Please review the Key to Job Status Codes (PDF).

Q - Where do I find Department of Buildings forms?

A – Please review our Development Forms section. If the form you need is not posted on our Web site, please contact the borough office in your borough.

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 G 

Q - Who is authorized to work on or inspect gas pipes within a building?

A - Only a New York City Licensed Master Plumber is authorized to work on or inspect gas pipes within a building.

Q - Who do I contact if I smell gas?

A - Immediately call 911 from a safe location and contact the gas provider for your borough.

Q - Where do I go to get my gas turned on?

A - You must contact your local gas company.

Q - Who can inspect gas piping systems?

A - Licensed Master Plumbers are authorized to inspect gas piping systems. A Professional Engineer or Registered Architect may also certify inspections as an authorized representative of the Licensed Master Plumber.

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 H 

Q - I entered into a "stipulation" at the Environmental Control Board (ECB) hearing or by mail and I have not completed the work yet. How do I receive an extension of time?

A - Call 311 to contact the ECB Office in your borough for time extensions. If you have additional questions about the Environmental Control Board violations issued by the Department of Buildings. 

Q - What is a "highway" letter?

A - A highway letter was a document that certified that a building owner had the proper "road", "curb" and "sidewalk" in front of a new or altered building. This has been replaced by the filing of the Builders Pavement Plans application.

Q - How do I get a "highway" letter?

A - A "highway" letter is no longer required now that this type of work is filed at the Department of Buildings.

Q - What are the construction industry’s hours of operations?

A - According to the Department of Environmental Protection’s noise code, working hours are 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Monday through Friday.

Q - What are Department of Buildings’ inspectors hours of operations?

A – Typical hours of operations are 8:00 AM through 4:30 PM. The Department of Buildings also performs some types of inspections during evenings and weekends.

Q - What are the Waterfront Unit’s office hours of operation?

A - The Waterfront Unit's hours of operations are from 8:30 AM until 3:30 PM, Monday through Friday.

Q - What are the requirements for Home Improvement Contractor License?

A - See Home Improvement Contractor License Requirement.

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 I 

Q - What is an illuminated sign?

A - An illuminated sign is a sign that is illuminated by electrical means. All wiring and accessory electrical equipment shall conform to the provisions of the NYC Electrical Code.

Q - Do I need to obtain a permit to erect an illuminated sign?

A - All illuminated signs require permits from the Department of Buildings. Nearly all signs regardless of illumination require permits as well.

Q - How do I obtain a permit for an illuminated sign?

A - To obtain a permit, an application must be filed at the Department of Buildings Borough office in the borough where the sign will be located.

Q - How often must the illuminated sign permit be renewed?

A - An illuminated sign permit must be renewed annually. The permit is issued by the Department of Buildings, but the bill is generated by the Department of Finance. The bill is sent to the property owner mailing address, not the tenant. The tenant must contact the property owner for the illuminated sign permit.

Q - What should I do when I remove a sign from my property?

A - The property owner must notify the Department of Buildings that they are canceling the permit.

Q - How do I cancel an illuminated sign permit?

A - To cancel an illuminated sign permit, you must submit a statement from a New York City licensed electrician indicating that the sign has been properly removed or de-electrified. The statement must be on company letterhead and shall include the following information:

  1. The date of removal (if known)
  2. The electrician's license number
  3. The address, borough, tax block and lot number of the property where the sign was located
  4. The illuminated sign permit number
  5. The dimensions of the sign (height and length if known)
  6. A statement indicating whether any other illuminated signs are at the location and if so, the dimensions (height and length) of each sign
  7. A statement indicating that the conditions after the removal of the sign comply with the NYC Electrical Code and that no exposed wiring exists or is visible.

A photograph of the premise (front and side view) where sign was located must be submitted.

Q - The wording of my illuminated sign has changed, must I modify my illuminated sign permit?

A - Yes. The illuminated sign permit must reflect the current wording on the illuminated sign.

Q - How do I change the wording on the illuminated sign permit?

A - To change the wording on the illuminated sign permit, the property owner must submit a signed letter indicating the following information:

  1. The new wording on the sign
  2. The address, tax borough, block and lot numbers where the sign is located
  3. The illuminated sign permit number (if known) The dimensions of the sign (Height X Length)

Q - I received a bill for an illuminated sign permit but I am not the owner of the property where the sign is located. What can I do?

A - You should mark the bill as " Wrong Owner" and mail it back to:

New York City Department of Buildings
Central Filing and Billing (CFB)
280 Broadway - 6th Fl.
New York, N.Y. 10007

Q - I received a bill to renew an illuminated sign permit but the information in the bill is incorrect. What can I do?

A - You should indicate on the bill what is not correct and mail it back to:

New York City Department of Buildings
Central Filing and Billing (CFB)
280 Broadway - 6th Fl.
New York, N.Y. 10007

Q - I submitted payment to renew my illuminated sign permit but I never received the new permit. What should I do?

A - If the permit renewal is not received after payment is submitted, the owner/managing agent of the property can contact Central Filing and Billing. Be prepared to provide the following information:

  1. Address where sign is located
  2. Borough, Tax Block and Lot Number
  3. Permit Number (if known)

Note: Tenants are advised to speak to their owner/managing agent before contacting the Department. An illuminated sign permit cannot be issued to the tenant of the property unless written authorization is given by the owner/managing agent.

Q - What should I do if I receive the illuminated sign permit but do not receive a bill?

A - Please contact the Department of Finance's hotline at (212) 504-4080. The permit is issued by the Department of Buildings but the bill is generated by the Department of Finance. The bill is sent to the property owner mailing address, not the tenant. The tenant must contact the property owner for the illuminated sign permit.

Q - Why is the Department of Finance billing me for my illuminated sign permit when these charges are for fees due to the Department of Buildings?

A - The Department of Finance provides billing services for many city agencies. Payments for illuminated sign permits should be made payable to the Department of Finance and sent directly to the address noted on the bill. Payments sent to the Department of Buildings will be returned to sender.

Q - How is the annual illuminated sign permit fee calculated?

A - The permit fee is established by the New York City Administrative Code, Section 26-212. The fee is based on the type of sign and the dimensions (square footage) of the sign. Any change in dimensions will require a new application to be filed.

Q - Are there regulations for erecting a illuminated sign in New York City, e.g., maximum size, wording, formatting, etc.?

A - Yes. Many regulations exist regarding installation of signage. For information regarding the laws regulating location and size of a sign, please contact the appropriate Borough office Plan Examination unit.

Q - I received a violation related to a illuminated sign on my property. What should I do?

A - Questions pertaining to an existing or recently issued violation may be directed to the Construction Division in the appropriate Borough office. Some information may be available on the Buildings Information System. Copies of violations can also be obtained at the Borough office.

Q - I received a violation related to a illuminated sign on my property. What should I do?

A - Questions pertaining to an existing or recently issued violation may be directed to the Construction Division in the appropriate Borough office. Some information may be available on BIS. Copies of violations can also be obtained at these office locations.

Q - Who can inspect plumbing, standpipe and sprinkler fire suppression systems?

A - Complaints are inspected by the Department of Buildings’ inspectors. For applications, the Department’s plumbing inspectors and licensed Master Plumbers who pull the permit are authorized to inspect. In addition, Professional Engineers and Registered Architects may also certify inspections as authorized representatives of the licensed Master Plumber or licensed Master Fire Suppression Piping Contractor. Fire extinguishing systems in range hoods and other inspections are performed by the NYC Fire Department.

Q - Who can inspect gas piping systems?

A - Only a NYC Licensed Master Plumber can inspect gas piping systems.

Q – How can I find out if we filed our annual boiler inspection report?

A - Visit the nearest borough office or research the information using the Department’s Buildings Information System.

Q - What is a Site Safety inspection?

A - Site Safety is the inspection of new building construction for high rises of 15 stories or 200 feet and taller, or lot coverage of 100,000 square feet or more. The BEST Squad often inspects Site Safety buildings. Buildings that are not covered by Site Safety regulations are usually inspected by Department of Buildings’ borough construction inspectors.

Q – I have a question about an illuminated sign on my property. How do I cancel the annual billing of this sign permit, remove the sign, or change the wording on the sign?

A - Contact the Department’s Central Filing and Billing unit. 

 

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 L 

Q - What type of work requires a licensed plumber?

A - Any plumbing work beyond the direct replacement of a same-type plumbing fixture, or a simple repair.

Q - What is Local Law 11/98?

A - Local Law 11/98 (amending Local Law 10/80) requires one periodic inspection every five years of building facades on buildings higher than 6 stories. An owner must retain a professional to inspect the façade and submit a report to the Department of Buildings about its condition. For more information about this process, see the Facade Inspection.

Q – Where do I file my Local Law 11/98 report?

A – File your report with the Local Law Enforcement Unit located at 280 Broadway.

Q – How do I find out how long a particular person has had a license?

A - You can contact the Licensing Division to find out how long a person has had a license. 

Q- I have more questions about Department of Buildings licenses. Where can I find more information?

A – Visit the Licensing Section and the Licensing FAQ page.

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FAQ's for letters M -Z

Other Related Links:

BIS FAQ
Carbon Monoxide Detectors FAQ
eFiling FAQ
Licensing FAQ
Padlock FAQ
Permit Renewal FAQ
Unsafe Buildings FAQ
Violations FAQ
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