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For Immediate Release   
April 1, 2008


Registration Increases Accountability, Requires Insurance and Protects Homeowners

Buildings Commissioner Patricia J. Lancaster, FAIA, today launched a new registration program for general contractors who build one-, two- and three-family homes. The registration requirement is designed to increase a general contractor's accountability on a job site and protect homebuyers from poor quality construction. General contractors seeking permits to erect one-, two-, or three-family homes must register with the Buildings Department by October 31, 2008. After that date, only general contractors registered with the Buildings Department will be issued building permits for these types of buildings. Unregistered individuals or entities found building one-, two- or three-family homes after October 31, 2008 will be subject to violations, Stop Work Orders, criminal charges, and the seizure of vehicles and construction tools.

To obtain a registration number, a general contractor must:

  • Meet and maintain certain qualifications;
  • Pass a limited background check;
  • Provide business and personal records to the Buildings Department; and
  • Submit proof of general liability insurance, workers compensation, and disability insurance.

Once registered, general contractors building one-, two-, and three-family homes must provide a warranty to homebuyers that guarantees the structure will be free of certain defects during for six years after construction is complete. General contractors who successfully register will be issued a photo identification card, which they must carry with them so that those retaining the contractor's services will be able to clearly verify the contractor is approved and registered to do the work. This registration system was made possible by Local Law 36, signed into law by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on August 2, 2007.

"Homebuyers have the right to know whether a general contractor building a home is qualified and insured. This registration system will allow homebuyers to gain that assurance. And while this registration system acts as a valuable consumer tool, it also greatly enhances the Buildings Department's enforcement capabilities. Registering general contractors seeking permits to build one-, two-, and three-family homes is a solid first step toward enabling the Buildings Department to systematically track their performance histories across job sites to hold repeat offenders accountable," said Commissioner Lancaster.  "I thank Councilman James Oddo for his dedication to this effort and for working so closely with the Buildings Department over the past year."

"This legislation gives the Buildings Department the additional tools it needs to ensure that all new homes are built by responsible contractors," said Councilman James Oddo, the author and prime sponsor of Local Law 36. "It is essential that members of the public have full confidence that when they purchase a new home - often the biggest investment in a person's life - that the contractor is not a fly-by-night operator who will simply disappear when problems arise.  This legislation protects the overwhelming majority of contractors who are responsible and ethical, it will weed out those who fail to do the right thing, and, most importantly, it will protect New York homebuyers."

Since 2002, the Buildings Department has worked aggressively to streamline its processes, improve transparency, and infuse integrity and accountability into the construction process.  The registration system for general contractors follows a series of initiatives the Buildings Department has implemented to advance safety and accountability on construction sites, including a registration requirement for construction superintendents on low-rise sites and a notification system that requires contractors to provide advance notice to the Buildings Department before commencing excavation work. With new enforcement models such as the Stop Work Order Patrol and the Scaffold Safety Team, Buildings inspectors are conducting more proactive inspections of construction activity across the five boroughs than at any point in the Department's history. Building on this progress, the Department's Special Enforcement Plan, launched in July 2007, will further the Department's mission of advancing the safe and lawful use of all of New York City's 975,000 buildings and properties.

To read the full text of the General Contractor legislation, or to download forms and required documentation to register, visit the Buildings Department website at

New Yorkers are encouraged to call 3-1-1 to report non-compliant conditions or 9-1-1 to report emergencies at construction sites. 

Contact:     Kate Lindquist/Carly Sullivan (212) 566-3473