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For Immediate Release
July 1, 2009


Expanded Sprinkler and Stairwell Requirements, Increased Penalties for Violations, New Construction Oversight Guidelines Will Make Buildings and Job Sites Safer

Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri today announced that all new buildings must comply with the new NYC Construction Codes. The implementation of the new Codes fulfills Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's commitment to overhaul the City's construction codes and represents the first major overhaul in more than 40 years. Modeled after the International Building Code, the new NYC Construction Codes meet the needs of the City's dense urban environment by expanding sprinkler requirements for more buildings, increasing the width of stairwells in high-rise residential buildings, mandating emergency voice communication systems in more residential buildings, and reclassifying violations to focus enforcement efforts on problematic job sites. Starting today, all permit applications for new buildings must comply with the NYC Construction Codes - which includes the Building, Fuel Gas, Mechanical and Plumbing Codes. These new buildings are subject to all administration, enforcement and construction safety changes associated with the new Codes.

More than 400 experts from the construction, real estate and labor industries, government agencies and academia spent tens of thousands of hours volunteering their time to overhaul the 1968 Building Code. The new NYC Construction Codes were signed into law by Mayor Bloomberg in July 2007 and took effect in July 2008. Since then, permit applicants were able to file plans that comply with either the 1968 Building Code or the new NYC Construction Codes. As of today, the Department will mandate new buildings to comply with the new Codes. To ensure the Codes are updated, the Codes will follow a national three-year revision cycle, enabling the City to take advantage of new materials and technology.

"The NYC Construction Codes are a landmark achievement for the Department," said Commissioner LiMandri. "Today marks the culmination of several years of hard work to review and update the City's 40-year-old building requirements. The new Codes will encourage more responsible and efficient building across the five boroughs while raising construction safety standards to a level never seen before in this City."

Some of the highlights of the new Codes include:

  • New Violation Classification System. Violations are now re-classified to enable Inspectors to zero-in on the buildings or construction sites that present the most significant risk to the public. Under the new system, violations fall into three classes that range in severity depending on the impact on public safety. Penalties are substantially increased in conjunction with the new classification system.

  • New Safeguards Required During Construction. Construction sites holding permits are subject to new requirements to safeguard properties and the public. The new requirements expand the Site Safety program to apply to more building types, call for new safety procedures for certain types of demolition, and enhance protection for properties adjoining excavation sites.

  • Special Inspections to Monitor for Compliance as Construction Proceeds. Third-party inspectors are now required to conduct more inspections at critical points in the construction process to advance compliance with construction regulations. The third-party inspectors, who must meet qualifications established by the Buildings Department, will verify that the conditions on the job site comply with the approved construction documents.

Buildings constructed under the new Codes are subject to enhanced structural integrity and fire protection measures, which include:

  • Expanded Structural Safety.   Enhanced design requirements, including stronger connectivity requirements for steel and concrete construction, will enable buildings to better withstand conditions such as strong winds, vehicular impacts, and gas explosions.

  • Enhanced Emergency Systems.   Emergency voice communication systems and emergency power generators will be required in all new residential buildings 125 feet or higher. In an emergency, these systems enable the Fire Department to speak to tenants and use back-up power for egress lighting and for at least one elevator.

  • Sprinklers Required in More Buildings. Automatic sprinkler systems will now be required in more buildings, including residential buildings of three units or more, attached two-family homes, and one- and two-family homes that are more than three stories.

Contact:     Tony Sclafani/Kate Lindquist (212) 566-3473