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For Immediate Release
March 22, 2011

DEPUTY MAYOR STEPHEN GOLDSMITH AND BUILDINGS COMMISSIONER ROBERT LIMANDRI ANNOUNCE ONLINE RENEWALS OF AFTER-HOURS VARIANCES FOR CONSTRUCTION WORK

Online Tool Will Accelerate Construction Operations Citywide and Streamline Submission of 30,000 Applications per Year for After-Hours Work

New Process Expected To Save Construction Industry
$6 Million per Year

Deputy Mayor for Operations Stephen Goldsmith and Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri today announced the launch of online renewals of after-hours variances for construction work, which is expected to speed up the construction process throughout the City and save members of the City’s construction industry approximately $6 million a year. Using this new tool, contractors and developers can submit renewal applications online for after-hours work instead of being required to visit one of the Department’s five borough offices. This process is expected to significantly reduce labor costs for industry members and offer them greater flexibility in their work schedules. In 2010, more than 30,000 applications to renew after-hours variances were submitted to the Department. Each application can saddle a contractor with up to $200 in labor costs to submit the document in person. Inspectors will perform random inspections citywide to ensure contractors are conducting work in accordance with the issuance of after-hours variances.

“E-Filing is part of our continued effort to enhance City processes through technological innovation, one of the key principles of NYC Simplicity,” said Deputy Mayor Goldsmith. “This initiative shows that technology can help government provide greater flexibility, increased transparency, and improved compliance—all while reducing administrative costs in the process.”

“This online program will become one of the most important tools for any contractor in the City,” said Commissioner LiMandri. “Applications for after-hours work can now be submitted in minutes, saving builders millions of dollars in annual labor costs without sacrificing safety on the job site. Filing documents faster means construction projects can be completed at a faster pace than ever before, and our inspectors will be performing spot checks citywide to ensure that work is done safely. The Department has harnessed the latest advances in technology to streamline the permitting process, and this new means of E-filing is another step in that direction.”

Online renewals of after-hours variances are a part of the Department’s e-Filing program, under which more than 38,000 construction-related applications and documents are submitted electronically each year. This includes electrical permit applications and renewal applications for select construction projects where the scope of work has not changed. Since 2009, applicants also have been able to electronically submit more than 200 types of required documents associated with construction projects, such as an approval letter from the New York City Fire Department for a fire protection plan.

To submit an online application for the renewal of an after-hours variance, contractors must register an account with the Department’s e-Filing program, fill out the online form and pay a fee with the use of a credit card. If the scope of work is allowed outside normal business hours (7 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and on weekends, and there are no active partial or full Stop Work Orders, a permit can be issued, and contractors can print the variance at their home or office. If there are any active partial or full Stop Work Orders, the permit will not be issued until the application is reviewed by the Department, which will determine whether the work can be approved due to the site’s history.

To increase the transparency of these documents, after-hour variances are now posted on the Department’s website at www.nyc.gov/buildings.

 The Department has been striving to make the construction process more transparent, improve safety and improve quality of life. Last month, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Goldsmith and Commissioner LiMandri announced the use of Quick Response (QR) codes on all construction permits, after-hours variances and Place of Assembly certificates of operation, providing instant access to information related to buildings and construction sites throughout the City. Similar to how a barcode provides information through a scanner, QR codes provide smartphone users with immediate access to data by scanning the displayed code with their device.

Since 2002, detailed permit and property information about the city’s 975,000 buildings has been made available on www.nyc.gov/buildings, and those who file complaints through 311 can go online to monitor the status of inspections in response to those complaints. In 2009, the Department launched the Development Challenge Process, which enables the public to view online diagrams of proposed buildings before work begins. Residents also can submit zoning challenges, and after those challenges are reviewed, Department responses are posted on the website. New York was the first city in the country to post such diagrams online before construction begins.

Contact:     Tony Sclafani/Jennifer Gilbert (212) 566-3473
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