Past Media Coverage

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Revocation of license upheld
City Land
December 31, 2020
William Harvey held a master plumber license and a master fire suppression license. Following an investigation the Department of Buildings moved to revoke Harvey’s master plumber and his fire suppression piping contractor licenses. Buildings alleged that Harvey repeatedly allowed non-employees to perform plumbing work on sites for which he had a permit. Harvey also allowed his employees to conduct work without a permit, and he failed to perform a work inspection before requesting sign-off. Buildings alleged that Harvey conducted “a vast plumbing operation with little knowledge of the work being done under his license.” After a hearing at which Building’s inspectors and investigators testified, Administrative Law Judge Kevin F. Casey held that Harvey displayed “negligence, incompetence, lack of knowledge, or disregard of applicable laws, and submitted a false or misleading statement to the Department of Buildings.

NYC Now Requires Energy Efficiency Grades For Big Buildings, And Most Are Getting D’s and F’s
December 27, 2020
Just as restaurants are required by the city Health Department to post letter grades announcing the results of their most recent cleanliness inspection, many NYC building owners must now post letter grades regarding their energy efficiency. The new policy is intended to compel building owners to take a closer look at their properties’ energy use, and although there are currently no fines attached to the grades, some property owners with low grades are already worried about their reputations. That may be exactly what the City wants. Roughly half of the approximately 40,000 buildings that had to post the grades received a D or lower (F scores were only given to buildings that failed to comply). Gina Bocra, chief sustainability officer for the Department of Buildings, said that although building owners have been required to disclose their property’s energy and water consumption for years, not many people saw it because it was in a database on a city website.

NYC Council Smooths the Way to Get Tenants into Buildings
JD Supra
December 18, 2020
As a small year-end gift to building developers, the NYC Council passed Int. 2033-2020 to ease the move-in process for owners and occupants. This bill allows the Department of Buildings (DOB) to issue Interim Certificates of Occupancies (ICOs) to authorize the occupancy of specific portions of a building—deemed safe for occupancy—prior to completion of all permitted construction work comprising the project. Importantly, no further DOB approvals are required following issuance of an ICO. As a further benefit, the ICOs do not have to be renewed which means commercial and residential tenants can move in and not have to worry about the certificate expiring.

New York City Clears the Path for Permitting of Energy Storage Systems
JD Supra
December 17, 2020
In a significant move to smooth permitting of energy storage systems in New York City, on December 15, 2020 the City Department of Buildings (“DOB”) established criteria for classifying stationary storage battery systems and fuel-cell power systems as “accessory uses” under the City’s Zoning Resolution, and outlined the filing procedures for such systems. This is an important step that provides developers with the concrete guidance they need to identify viable sites and streamline project permitting in the City where the process for energy storage siting is unique, more challenging than in the rest of NY State, and has consistently stunted deployment progress.

Department of Buildings Announces Reforms to Sign-Permitting Process
Brooklyn Paper
December 16, 2020
Roughly two years after a bevy of Brooklyn businesses were hit with steep fines for boasting non-compliant signs above their storefronts, the Department of Buildings has released a slew of recommended reforms to the permitting process that will reduce headaches for small shops struggling amid the pandemic-related recession. “We are always looking for opportunities to better serve our fellow New Yorkers,” said Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca. “Cutting red tape and streamlining enforcement will help support small businesses across the city.”

Historic nearly 300-year-old bell will ring again after surviving NYC church fire
December 14, 2020
A nearly 300-year-old bell that survived a Manhattan church fire earlier this month will ring once again. The six-alarm blaze gutted the Middle Collegiate Church in the East Village in the early morning hours of Saturday, December 5, starting in a vacant five-story building and spreading to the historic structure. You can now see right through the building on Second Avenue, but at the top of the steeple, the New York Liberty Bell remains intact. Reverend Jacqui said he was awed by the photos taken by a Department of Buildings inspector over the weekend. The bell was cast in Holland in 1731, and in the centuries since, it has rung in momentous events from the birth of the United States in 1776 to the attacks on 9/11.

Council passes bill to speed up opening of new and renovated properties
The Real Deal
December 11, 2020
Just in time for the holidays, the City Council delivered a gift to developers and their contractors: fewer trips to the Department of Buildings. The Council on Thursday voted to approve a bill that creates an interim certificate of occupancy for parts of certain buildings where construction has already been completed. The interim measure would replace temporary certificates and would not have to be renewed every 90 days, as is currently required. Instead, it will expire once a permanent certificate of occupancy is issued. “There’s no time to waste when it comes to helping our neighbors safely move into new apartments or get their businesses up and running,” Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca said in a statement.

How you can help boost your NYC building’s energy efficiency grade even if you're a renter
Brick Underground
December 7, 2020
New York City’s new energy efficiency grades are being posted in residential buildings, but who is responsible for improving a low rating or keeping a high one up—management or residents? And what exactly is the rating measuring? Because the grade is based on the overall energy and water consumption of your building, not just common areas and amenity spaces, what you do in your apartment as a renter or apartment owner also impacts the rating. Gina Bocra, chief sustainability officer at NYC’s Department of Buildings, which oversees the program says getting a good score “takes the effort of both building owners and tenants.”


NYC fines construction firm $25K after worker killed in Arverne in 2019
Queens Daily Eagle
November 30, 2020
The NYC Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings has fined a NJ construction firm $25,000, more than 15 months after a falling wall killed one of its workers in Arverne by the Sea. The Department of Buildings issued more than a dozen other violations to the site’s general contractor and construction superintendent, with OATH hearings scheduled for late December. Construction worker Jose Martins, 67, was crushed and killed by a piece of a building near Beach 67th Street in July 2019. Martins, from Warren, NJ, was a site manager for a team constructing a 126-apartment complex at 68-04 Tides Road. The city fined the company Extreme Construction Inc. $25,000 for failing to make sure laborers were certified to perform hoisting operations at the work site.

New York City Gas Piping System Inspection And Certification Deadlines Approaching
JD Supra
November 24, 2020
While many believe that 2020 can’t end fast enough, there is an important upcoming deadline before the Times Square ball drop for owners of buildings, except one- or two-family homes, in certain Community Districts that, if missed, could lead to a significant civil penalty. Pursuant to a local law passed in 2016 (a lifetime ago in these challenging COVID times), gas piping systems in all buildings except those classified in occupancy group R-3 must be inspected by a Licensed Master Plumber or a qualified individual working under an LMP’s direct and continuing supervision at least once every four years. If you own a building subject to this law located in Community Districts 1, 3 and 10 in any of the five boroughs, then an LMP must conduct the inspection and report the findings by December 31, 2020. DOB notes that the failure to file the appropriate forms by the corresponding deadlines will result in a civil penalty of $10,000. Where can I find more Information About this Law and what I Should Do? You may review the guidance posted by DOB on its website.

Mayor De Blasio Signs Bill To Expand Green New Deal, Combat Income Discrimination And Provide Online Access To Rental Assistance
Canarsie Courier
November 17, 2020
Mayor de Blasio today signed into law a package of bills that will expand NYC’s landmark Green New Deal, increase access to online rental assistance and strengthen income discrimination laws. “New Yorkers understand that climate change is an existential threat, especially in a city of islands like ours," said Department of Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca. "Buildings are our largest source of emissions, and we look forward to continue educating and working with buildings owners on the necessary changes they must make to meet this threat head-on. We remain committed to implementing NYC's Green New Deal, and appreciate the continued support of the Council to do so."

New York’s Local Law 97: What to Know
Commercial Observer
November 2, 2020
New City Council regulations require that most buildings 25,000 square feet or larger reduce their carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030, and by 80 percent by 2050. This, in turn, is supposed to help the city itself reduce its overall emissions by similar levels. These regulations are part of what’s called the 2019 Climate Mobilization Act’s “Local Law 97.” Expect to hear more about it in the coming years if you’re a building owner or part of an ownership team. The city Department of Buildings is the enforcing agency, and is slated to begin enforcing the law in 2024.


New York City jobsite injuries down 20% since 2017
Construction Dive
October 29, 2020
The New York City Department of Buildings announced today it has issued 100,000 Site Safety Training cards to date, a milestone that indicates the training requirement, mandated through local legislation passed in 2017, has buy-in from the building community. Building department officials said that the safety training has contributed to a more than 20% decrease in jobsite injuries, the first such reduction in injuries in nearly a decade.

DOB Launches Online Service Levels Tracker for Checking Wait Times
City Land
October 28, 2020
On October 14, 2020, the Department of Buildings launched an online Service Levels Tracker which allows New Yorkers to see average wait times for Department of Buildings Services. This tracker centralizes information that had previously been available to New Yorkers while also clearly setting forth the different Department of Buildings metrics allowing the public to better understand expected timelines for projects both citywide and by borough. These metrics are quarterly running averages that are updated monthly. As the City continues to rebuild following the COVID-19 pandemic, this Service Level Tracker will help support safe development citywide. (– 10/28/20)

Homeowners can now view status of city Building Dept. approvals, permits
SI Advance
October 14, 2020
The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) is launching a new online tool on Wednesday that will allow homeowners to see all active construction projects, permit approvals and more in real time. Too often, homeowners and the public don’t have the tools necessary to understand where DOB fits into the timeline of a project. For this reason, the new Service Levels Tracker allows News Yorkers to see average wait times for DOB services all in one place. “Our friends and neighbors need clarity from us about how our inspections and approvals impact the timelines of their projects,” said Melanie E. La Rocca, DOB commissioner. “Everyone living in our city should understand their construction timelines so they can plan smartly and safely.”

How to Get Your Energy Score Rating
October 9, 2020
In this seven-minute instructional video, Mark Levine, principal at the management company EBMG, walks boards and property managers through the steps they need to take to navigate the Department of Buildings website to perform a new mandated task: finding, printing and posting their building’s Energy Efficiency Rating. For the first time, buildings larger than 25,000 square feet will be awarded a letter grade for energy efficiency, from A to D, that must be posted in a conspicuous place in the building by October 31. Every year, a new grade will be awarded and it, too, must be posted by Halloween.

DOB's Energy Efficiency Grading Program Launches
October 8, 2020
According to an email sent out by the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) the city’s annual energy efficiency letter grade sign program, which was instituted by 2018’s Local Law 33, officially went into effect on October 1. Going forward, all NYC buildings over 25,000 sq ft will receive a letter grade reflecting their DOB-verified energy efficiency; high or low, that grade must be printed and displayed at every public entrance of the building by Oct. 31, 2020. The program is similar to the letter grading system applied to NYC restaurants by the Department of Health, which requires dining establishments to post their inspection letter grade conspicuously in a window or on an entrance door. According to the DOB press secretary Andrew Rudansky, this legislation will affect approximately 40,000 buildings across the city. “This marks a big change in how New Yorkers think about building sustainability in our city,” he says, “and will affect large residential buildings throughout all five boroughs.”

Building code ‘hackers’ use new tech to solve old problems
Real Estate Weekly
October 5, 2020
The New York City Department of Buildings has announced the winners of the agency’s first ever “Hack the Building Code” Innovation Challenge for ideas on how to improve building safety and modernize the development process in NYC. Launched earlier this year in partnership with the NYC Economic Development Corporation and the Urban Tech Hub @ Company, the challenge put out an open call to the design, construction and technology industries, inviting ideas on ways to improve our city’s built environment.


DOB Extends Amnesty for Overdue Facade Inspections
September 30, 2020
The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) has extended the amnesty period for its Facade Inspections and Safety Program (FISP) to October 31, 2020. The amnesty program is open only to building owners who failed to file a report for Cycle 8 before their deadline. The amnesty program, which will not be extended any further, allows owners to close Cycle 8 with their Cycle 9 report.

Four Innovators Win NYC Buildings Dept.'s First Green New Deal Competition
Engineering New-Record
September 24, 2020
NYC’s Green New Deal law set ambitious deadlines for its largest buildings to reduce carbon emissions, spurring the city Dept. of Buildings to debut a competition that attracted a range of potential solutions in energy generation and use. The department announced on Sept. 22 four winners of its first Carbon Neutrality Innovation Challenge, geared to provide solutions for buildings of more than 25,000 sq ft in meeting new green requirements that include cutting emissions from 2005 levels by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. The competition received submissions from a wide range of design, construction and technology companies and groups for new ideas in sustainable technology and retrofits of existing building systems. “As part of our first ever digital conference, I am thrilled to congratulate the winners of our sustainability innovation challenge,” Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca said. “We are proud of our continued partnership with industry to confront this critical issue.

DOB Announces New Energy Efficiency Ratings Posting Requirements
City Land
September 24, 2020
On September 8, 2020, the Department of Buildings announced that starting on October 30, 2020, all NYC Buildings 25,000 square feet or larger will be legally required to post energy efficiency letter grade signs at their entrances. Similar to restaurant health grade signs, these energy efficiency signs will create greater transparency for the public about how each building operates.

New York Eyes Technologies for Buildings’ Emissions Compliance
September 21, 2020
New York City will support changes to its building code to include four private companies’ technologies as it rolls out its landmark law limiting greenhouse gases from buildings. The city, in an announcement to formally be made Tuesday, also will consider offering technical support and “prioritized assistance” to help the technologies gain traction in the market, Andrew Rudansky, a spokesman with the NYC Department of Buildings, told Bloomberg Law. “Climate change is an existential threat to a coastal city like ours, and innovative technologies will help us meet this challenge head on,” said New York Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca.

City reports decline in construction-related injuries, deaths
The Real Deal
September 18, 2020
The city reported a nearly 19 percent decrease in construction-related injuries in the last fiscal year, a drop the Department of Buildings partially attributes to a new construction safety law. There were 534 construction-related injuries between July 2019 and June 2020, a drop from the 646 seen during the same time period in the previous year, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s latest management report, released Thursday. Eight workers were killed in construction-related incidents, down from the 11 recorded the previous year, according to the report. The data collected by the DOB is limited to construction-related incidents at sites overseen by the agency. It does not include other emergencies on. If going by the regular calendar year, the DOB recorded 12 deaths in 2019 and five so far in 2020.The decline can be attributed in part to the shutdown of non-essential construction from March 27 through June 8. The DOB also implemented Local Law 196, which requires construction workers to complete either a combination of training courses known as OSHA 10 and OSHA 30, or a 100-hour program approved by the DOB. “Through aggressive, proactive inspections, new safety training requirements for workers, and the industry’s greater commitment to a culture of safety, we have been able to continue driving down injuries,” Andrew Rudansky, a spokesperson for the DOB, said in a statement. “But we can do better, and are committed to further making construction sites safer for workers and the public.”

Drones could soon be used for inspecting NYC buildings
Real Estate Weekly
September 16, 2020
The city’s Department of Buildings could soon be using drones to carry out building façade inspections. New York City Council today gave the go-ahead for the DOB to study the feasibility of using drones to inspect buildings. Building façade inspections are intended to ensure that the façades of buildings higher than six stories are safe and secure. They often involve erecting costly scaffolding around the buildings for inspectors to take a proper look at the façade. Supports say the use of drone technology may be a way to improve inspections, enabling more thorough examinations and protecting pedestrians, but there are concerns about safety, privacy and federal rules. “Today’s vote by the City Council was an important step forward toward creating a safe and sensible system for commercial drone use in NYC,” said Carlo Scissura, president of the New York Building Congress.

DOB has issued 550 Covid violations at construction sites since July
September 4, 2020
Covid-19 safety violations at NYC construction sites have not been especially prevalent so far, according to data from the Department of Buildings. The agency began inspecting sites on July 8, one month after work on nonessential construction projects was allowed to resume with safety guidelines in place as part of phase one of the city's reopening. Between then and Sept. 2, the DOB issued stop work orders at 330 of the city's roughly 40,000 active construction sites due to Covid-related problems. It issued 550 Covid violations at 531 sites overall, as some sites were found to have multiple problems, and it has conducted more than 82,000 inspections so far.

DOB to hold virtual Build Safe conference
Real Estate Weekly
September 3, 2020
The Department of Buildings announced that registration is now open for the agency’s first-ever virtual New York City construction industry conference taking place September 21-25, 2020, Build Safe | Live Safe Digital 2020: Safety, Innovation, & Sustainability.

City moves to speed opening of new and renovated properties
The Real Deal
September 1, 2020
A proposed City Council bill aims to streamline how new and renovated buildings are opened. The measure, sponsored by Council member Cornegy and backed by the de Blasio administration, would create an interim certificate of occupancy for parts of buildings where construction is complete. The certificate would take the place of temporary certificates for certain buildings but with a key difference: It would not have to be renewed every 90 days. That would reduce owners’ paperwork and avoid violations for failing to renew the temporary certificate. “Along with our partners in the Council, we have been hard at work making common-sense changes to cut red tape at the department,” said Melanie La Rocca, the buildings commissioner, in a statement. “This new type of certificate of occupancy would reduce paperwork, free up staffing resources at the department, and streamline the development process, all without diminishing safety.”


City clears path for delay in construction safety training
August 19, 2020
The Department of Buildings is helping pave the way for a bill that would give construction workers more time to complete their 40 hours of safety training, saying they had no objections to pushing the deadline from September to March at a hearing on Tuesday. “We have no objections to this extension but I urge our construction workforce not to delay this potentially lifesaving training,” said DOB Commissioner Melanie La Rocca. “The sooner this training is completed, the better for both workers and the public. ”The bill, which is sponsored by Councilman Robert Cornegy, Councilman Carlos Menchaca and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, would give construction workers until March 1, rather than Sept. 1 to comply with Local Law 196.

NYC launches free no-penalty inspections of home, small business structures
SI Advance
August 2, 2020
New York City is launching a program that will allow small business owners and homeowners to obtain free inspections of their structures -- like business accessory signs, decks, porches and retaining walls -- without the risk of penalty to determine if they comply with city safety regulations. The mayor’s administration recently announced the start of the new No-Penalty Business Accessory Sign Inspection Program and the return of the annual No-Penalty Deck and Porch and Retaining Wall Inspection Programs. The city Department of Buildings (DOB) will start accepting business accessory sign inspection requests from small business owners until Sept. 15 under the No-Penalty Business Accessory Sign Inspection Program.


Buildings to Receive Energy Efficiency Ratings
July 28, 2020
According to a recent notice from New York City-based firm RAND Engineering & Architecture DPC, following the precedent set at NYC’s restaurants, building owners will now have letter grades posted outside their entrances as well. According to RAND, “Owners of buildings that are subject to NYC's Benchmarking Law (Local Laws 84/09 and 133/16) will be required to post energy efficiency letter grades issued by the city, starting October 31, 2020 per Local Law 33 of 2018 as amended by Local Law 95 of 2019.” The NYC Benchmarking Law mandates that owners of buildings over 25,000 square feet are to submit an annual analysis of their energy and water consumption to Energy Star Portfolio Manager, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s online benchmarking tool. Buildings will then be assigned energy efficiency scores from A to F, based on the findings of that analysis. According to RAND, “Building Energy Efficiency Rating labels will be available in the NYC Department of Buildings' DOB NOW Public Portal annually on October 1.

DOB to start issuing violations to COVID scofflaws
Real Estate Weekly
July 8, 2020
New York City’s Department of Building’s inspectors will start issuing tickets to contractors who aren’t keeping their workers and sites COVID-safe today. 30 days into the phased reopening of the city and the resumption of non-essential construction activity in all five boroughs, the DOB said the grace period for instituting mandatory health and sanitation regulations for work sites is over.

DOB looks to real estate, tech sector for next big thing
Real Estate Weekly
July 1, 2020
The Department of Buildings has launched the first-ever “Hack the Building Code” Innovation Challenge. The contest is part of a partnership with NYC Economic Development Corporation and Urban Tech Hub @ Company. The agency invites ideas on the best ways to improve the city’s 1.1 million buildings, keep construction workers and the public safe, and modernize the construction process. In April, DOB announced the Carbon Neutrality Innovation Challenge to solicit ideas to increase energy efficiency among NYC’s buildings. Both challenges are open to all members of the public and entries must be submitted by August 21, 2020. Winners will be announced this fall.


Construction Resumes, Penalties Will Be Enforced
June 23, 2020
As New York City continues to reopen, the Department of Buildings (DOB) has issued guidance and mandated protocols to promote safety and health on all job sites. After launching a citywide inspection sweep of every permitted site to verify compliance with State and City Phase 1 restart requirements, DOB inspectors have observed, per its emailed announcement, that while “the industry is working hard to be in compliance with the requirements, it is clear that there is room for improvement.” To assist worksites in complying with the required measures before fines and summonses start kicking in on July 8, the DOB offers a Do’s and Don’ts document.

Queens, City Slowly Re-open
The Forum
June 13, 2020
After nearly an entire spring spent sheltering-in-place and monitoring morose virus models, Queens and the rest of Gotham reopened this week. Industries permitted to restart in Phase 1 of the City’s reopening were able to do so beginning Monday, June 8. The Department of Buildings, Department of Consumer and Worker Protection and Small Business Services will educate and conduct outreach to businesses as they reopen for Phase 1.

NYC Restarts Non-Essential Construction
Construction Equipment
June 9, 2020
The NYC Department of Buildings released new COVID-19 safety guidelines for property owners and contractors as 33,556 non-essential construction sites get back to work as part of NYC’s entrance into Phase One of New York State's reopening plan, which started June 8, 2020. These new required safety measures for construction sites were developed in partnership with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and are being implemented to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus to workers and the public during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. "The pandemic is slowly receding because New Yorkers did what we do best — we came together and made the necessary sacrifices to protect our families and neighbors," said Department of Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca.


City provides remote training, license renewal for construction workers
Real Estate Weekly
May 29, 2020
Thousands of city construction professionals will be able to get their safety certificates online under a new program just launched by the city’s Department of Buildings. For the first time, plumbers, electricians, riggers and site safety workers will able be able to renew their licenses online. The online expansion includes classes that will be delivered live and adhere to DOB’s accreditation standards. and what restrictions they will have to observe.

US COVID-19 Real Estate Legal Developments: Federal, California, Florida, Illinois, New York
May 1, 2020
The City of New York has issued additional best practices guidance for social distancing at construction sites. This includes maintaining physical and operational distancing to the greatest degree possible, monitoring temperatures, requiring handwashing, use of personal protective equipment (“PPE”), use of temporary barriers, and shutting down construction sites where physical distancing cannot be maintained. This guidance would apply in addition to any OSHA guidance. The NYC Department of Buildings has issued additional guidance on the EO 202.6.


Think Global, Act Local: New York's Carbon Policy
Architectural Record
April 30, 2020
Advocates of New York’s Local Law 97 refer to it as the most ambitious climate legislation for buildings enacted by any city in the world. The claim might sound like hyperbole, but John Mandyck, CEO of the Urban Green Council, a nonprofit that helped shape the regulation, points to its scope and scale. It applies to 50,000 existing buildings—any that are 25,000 square feet or larger. These structures amount to 60 percent of the city’s floor area and are responsible for 40 percent of total greenhouse-gas emissions. By 2030, the law is expected to reduce emissions from large buildings by at least 40 percent compared to a 2005 baseline, which means cutting 5.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from current levels, the equivalent of San Francis­co’s citywide emissions…The first set of regulations go into effect in 2024, targeting the most carbon-intensive 20 percent of buildings, while the 2030 limits target the most carbon-intensive 75 percent. (Subsequent limits will be set by the Department of Buildings to achieve an 80 percent reduction in emissions citywide by 2050.)

New York City Buildings Commissioner Notes Agency Role In COVID-19 Project Curbs
Engineering News-Record
April 24, 2020
About 90% of construction sites are not currently active, said New York City Dept. of Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca in an April 23 live-streamed Q&A, adding detail on the process to get projects certified as "essential" during the state's COVID-19-sparked shutdown. She also discussed why her inspectors repeatedly visit closed sites and how agency changes may help the industry get back up to speed after all work resumes, which now is set for May 15 but not assured...During the Q&A, sponsored by the New York Building Congress, La Rocca also explained why DOB inspectors continue to visit sites whether they are certified or closed. “Just because you’re essential does not mean the department is never coming by again," she said. "We have to make sure you’re doing it correctly, and if you’re essential because of an emergency, we have to make sure you’re doing it to the scope" of the emergency.

DOB launches competition to find green building ideas
Real Estate Weekly
April 23, 2020
Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca today announced the launch of the Carbon Neutrality Innovation Challenge, DOB’s first-ever competition to solicit ideas to increase energy efficiency among NYC’s buildings. As part of Mayor de Blasio’s historic Green New Deal, NYC plans to be carbon neutral by 2050. Innovative companies from the New York City Economic Development Corporation’s Urban Tech Initiative will work directly with DOB to propose ideas to achieve this goal. Five semifinalists will be asked to present their proposals at DOB’s Build Safe / Live Safe conference on September 25, 2020.

DOB Announces Amnesty for FISP Inspections
April 23, 2020
The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) has announced an Amnesty Program for building owners who failed to file a Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP) report in the 8th Cycle, which ended on February 21, 2020. While most construction work in New York state has shut down due to Governor Cuomo's 'New York State on Pause' Executive Order during the current COVID-19 outbreak, FISP inspections are considered essential work because their purpose is public safety. Under the program, non-compliant owners can administratively close their 8th Cycle filing requirement by filing a 9th Cycle report between June 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020.

Managing Coronavirus Risk On An Active Jobsite
JD Supra 
April 15, 2020
As we have described in our blog posts here and here, construction in New Jersey and New York is curtailed, but all ongoing projects face the same practical issues. No matter where your project is, on-site the current circumstances present unique challenges. For the safety of on-site workers and the general public, site management personnel should make all efforts to enforce best practices to limit the spread coronavirus. The New York City Department of Buildings posted some tips applicable to any site on Preventing and Remediating the Contamination of Germs on Construction Site, including staggering any required in-person meetings to minimize the number of people together in one place. The physical isolation methods described in Industry Best Practices for: Dust Mitigation/Control in Occupied Buildings with Active Construction, including sealing around doors are also useful for controlling an airborne disease.

City presses on with Green Deal plans
Real Estate Weekly
April 9, 2020
Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca today announced that, starting in May, DOB will be convening eight new Climate Working Groups to help develop best practices for building owners to comply with the building mandates legislation (Local Law 97 of 2019).Local Law 97 takes effect in 2024 and requires all buildings larger than 25,000 s/f to cut their emissions or face hefty fines. By 2030, the level of emissions will be cut further and the fines increased. The new advisory groups – which will meet remotely if the city’s COVID-19 shutdown is still in effect – are tasked with working out the feasibility of various retrofits, strategies and technologies for hospitals, commercial buildings, and large multifamily buildings.

New Map Tells You Whether That Construction On Your Block Is Essential Or Illegal
April 3, 2020
Last week, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, Governor Andrew Cuomo halted all non-essential construction, with the exception of certain emergency infrastructure projects. Still, some New Yorkers say that work has continued on non-essential sites anyway. Now, a new tool from the city will help you determine whether that ear-splitting jack-hammering next door belongs to a desperately needed emergency hospital or a luxury developer trying to skirt the ban. On Friday, the Department of Buildings published a "real-time map" of all essential and emergency work that's still allowed to happen under the order. Such projects include construction of healthcare facilities, affordable housing, and utilities, along with emergency work to repair buildings and restore essential services, like heat and electricity. As of Friday, the city had identified a total of 887 construction sites deemed essential.


How New York Changed After the Worst Tragedy No One Remembers
NY Times
March 25, 2020
He was alive, though, one of only six survivors. The fire at the Happy Land Social Club on March 25, 1990, resulted in the largest loss of life in New York City since the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire: 87 people at the club died that day. The club had been operating illegally. It had no sprinklers and several exits were blocked off with roll-down security shutters...A generation later, much of the landscape that shaped the tragedy and its aftermath has changed. The New York City Department of Buildings immediately stepped up investigations of illegal clubs, and just last year, it put mandatory regulations in place for escape-room businesses to guard participants from being trapped during a fire.

DOB Moves Online
Real Estate Weekly
March 22, 2020
DOB is moving nearly all of its in-person transactions to either our web-based portals, over the mail, or through drop-boxes in borough offices. Starting on Tuesday, March 24, the Department will no longer be conducting in-person appointments for standard plan reviews, and that all plans to be reviewed by the Department must be submitted online through its eFiling system. See the latest service notice for more details about this change.

DOB issues new virus protocols for contractors
Real Estate Weekly
March 18, 2020
The city’s Department of Buildings has set up a coronavirus protocol for contractors and is moving to reduce foot traffic at its offices through its online infrastructure. In a message this issued this morning, DOB commissioner Melanie La Rocca said, “The engineers, architects, inspectors, plan examiners, and support staff at the Department play a critical safety function in New York City, which is why the Department offices will remain open. From conducting structural stability investigations to incident response, facade safety inspections to emergency work plans reviews, DOB operations must continue for the safety of all New Yorkers. “As of today, March 17, the Department has taken the steps to reduce foot traffic in our offices, and to notify construction sites in New York City about proper work site safety.”

The Most Important Thing to Know About NYC SST Training Deadlines
March 4, 2020
The last days of November 2019 caused an enormous stir among the supervisors at job sites who planned to receive SST training for getting SST card. Many of them did not succeed in doing it because Site Safety Training companies could not manage the number of queries from those who were interested in getting the necessary certificate. Therefore, lots of supervisors did not have the possibility and time to receive 62 hours training course and did not get a Supervisor SST Card. According to Local Law 196, the supervisors at construction sites have to pay penalties as high as $5,000 if they do not satisfy all requirements of the New York City Department of Buildings.

Big changes to NYC Local Law 11 Façade Inspection and Safety Program for Cycle 9
New York Real Estate Journal
March 3, 2020
In December 2019, terracotta fell from a Manhattan tower, killing a passerby and prompting the New York City Department of Buildings to step up enforcement of the Façade Inspection and Safety Program (FISP). A new rule in effect this month makes substantial changes to the inspection and reporting requirements…With penalties at four and five times what they were in the past, and the reputation of a building hanging in the balance, the incentive to inspect thoroughly, file on time, and make repairs promptly couldn’t be clearer. New Yorkers are worn down by reports of citizens struck by façade debris, and the drive to make buildings safer has reached a tipping point.

New energy code gets tougher on NYC construction
March 2, 2020
Beginning in May, construction in NYC is going to have to meet stricter sustainability and energy efficiency standards now that the 2020 NYC Energy Conservation Code passed into law last week. Part of the city’s version of the Green New Deal, the new code is just one of several construction regulations that the Department of Buildings is revising, with further updates expected to roll out later in the year. Under the new code, new construction projects will have to implement better performing walls and windows to prevent heat loss, provide continuous insulation on balconies and parapets, meet increased energy efficiency requirements for heating and cooling systems, interior lighting and elevators, in addition to other measures.


Bichotte, Louis, Menchaca Laud City’s Elimination of Fines For Small Businesses
Kings County Politics
February 21, 2020
Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte (D-Flatbush, Ditmas Park), and City Council Members Farah Louis (D-East Flatbush, Flatbush, Flatlands, Marine Park, Midwood) and Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook) yesterday lauded Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement the city is eliminating several fines for first-time violations and expanding the universe of violations that will have cure periods for small businesses. Fines subject to relief include select Department of Buildings, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Transportation, Department of Sanitation, and Department of Consumer and Worker Protection violations. The city will work with the city council to review more than 75 violations. DOB and DOT can implement their own rule changes, and will begin providing additional relief in the fall.

Tough New Facade-Inspection Rules Kick In Today
February 20, 2020
Major changes go into effect today with the city’s Facade Inspection and Safety Program (FISP), on the eve of Cycle 9, which begins on Friday, Feb. 21. Co-op and condo boards should get ready for stricter rules, stiffer penalties – and a rise in the cost of the inspections and repairs that must be undertaken every five years in buildings taller than six stories, under a program previously known as Local Law 11, and originally as Local Law 10…Stiffer Penalties. Failure to correct unsafe conditions in a timely fashion will trigger increased penalties unless owners file for, and obtain, Department of Buildings-approved time extensions. These new penalties rise on an annual scale, with base penalties for each year set at $1,000 a month, but with the second year adding a $10 per linear foot of sidewalk shed charged monthly, the third year increasing that to $20 per linear foot, and $10 per linear foot increases for the fourth and fifth years of the cycle.

Gjonaj, La Rocca provide relief to small businesses in district
Bronx Times
February 19, 2020
Along with NYC Department of Buildings commissioner Melanie La Rocca, Councilman Mark Gjonaj visited small businesses in his district to conduct outreach regarding relief provided by Local Law 28, a moratorium on violations and the programs to help provide relief to business owners.

An Inside Look at How NYC Inspects Building Facades to Ensure Safety
February 18, 2020
New York City’s building façade inspection process begins with a high wire act. Engineers, dangling from ropes, hundreds of feet in the air inspect the exterior of high-rise buildings. “You’re looking for readily visible deficiencies,” said Jason Coleman, an engineer at O’Donnell Nacarrato. And he is one of only about 500 engineers qualified to do this job. Harnessed and lowered by ropes, Coleman checks the exteriors of buildings, brick by brick. “You’ll be looking for brick or stone,” said Coleman, “where water can crack or penetrate.” Dangling from ropes hundreds of feet in the air is the first step in New York City’s building façade inspection process. All 14,500 buildings in the five boroughs taller than six stories need to be inspected by an engineer like Coleman every five years…Since the tragedy in December, the Buildings Department has taken action by increasing their penalties and doubling the number of inspectors on the ground.

Experts warn owners not to dawdle as city lays down local laws
Real Estate Weekly
February 18, 2020
Building experts are warning the city’s owners they don’t have time to dawdle over monumental new carbon emission and façade laws. With just four years until Local Law 97 requires all buildings larger than 25,000 s/f to cut their emissions or face hefty fines, and 10 years until the level of emissions is cut further and the fines are increased, Erin Fisher, director of engineering services with CANY, warned, “This law is going to sustain and it is going to hurt – there’s no way around it. “Buildings that are in terrific shape in terms of energy usage right now may be facing fines by 2030. It is important to plan ahead and have qualified professionals come in early on to develop a long-term plan for your building’s energy usage.” Fisher was speaking at the first of a series of planned seminars hosted by CANY along with partners MG Engineering and Apogee, with input from the city’s Department of Buildings, aimed at helping owners navigate the rules surrounding the biggest enforced greening program in the world… Tim Lynch, chief engineer for Enforcement Bureau, NYC DOB, reminded the group that the façade legislation rule is as much a public safety issue as it is a contributor to energy usage. While the department has tightened its scrutiny of experts qualified to inspect city buildings, he said owners have an obligation not to cut corners on inspections.

City Brings Criminal Court Case Over Busted Subway Escalator
The City
February 10, 2020
Safety inspectors are so fed up with a Manhattan subway escalator that’s been busted since last January that the building’s manager and owner have been hauled into criminal court, records show. THE CITY reported last week that the escalator leading to the E and M train platform at the Lexington Avenue-53rd Street station, under the famed Lipstick Building, had the system’s worst performance record, operating less than 5% of the time in 2019. In October, the city Law Department issued criminal court summonses to 885 3rd Avenue Realty Owner LLC and John Perdios, a senior manager for the real estate giant CBRE. “The owners of 885 Third Avenue entered into an agreement with the city to properly maintain this escalator at the Lexington Avenue-53rd Street station,” said Andrew Rudansky, a Department of Buildings spokesperson. “We have taken these owners to criminal court to enforce that agreement.”

To solve NYC’s housing crisis, city wants to legalize basement apartments and ADUs
February 6, 2020
As New York City struggles to address its affordable housing and homelessness crises, the de Blasio administration plans to take creative steps to up the number of low-cost apartments in the five boroughs. The latest: Legalizing basement apartments and even accessory dwelling units (ADUs)—also known as granny or in-law flats—throughout the city, which Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to address in his State of the City speech tonight. According to The City, the mayor will announce a program that will help homeowners legally add these types of units to their property. It’ll require zoning changes (to address parking concerns) and a buy-in from the city’s Department of Buildings, but the de Blasio administration believes the relaxed rules could add as many as 10,000 new units to the city’s housing stock.



NYC to double building facade inspectors after tragic Midtown death
Daily News
December 30, 2019

The city Buildings Department is doubling the number of façade inspectors two weeks after debris tumbled from a Midtown building and killed a prominent architect. The agency is hiring 12 new staffers for its facade inspection team and is beefing up safety protocols for buildings with fronts that are unsafe. The reforms come just 13 days after the tragic death of Erica Tishman, 60, who was struck by a piece of falling building debris while walking along Seventh Ave. The tragedy prompted an outcry from everyday New Yorkers and the almost immediate launch of inspections at 1,331 buildings deemed unsafe. Of those buildings, 220 lacked the proper protections for passersby and will be hit with violations requiring shielding, such as building sheds, be put in place, city officials said. "We are doubling-down on the proven tools at our disposal," Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca said. "New Yorkers should know that we are out in force holding owners' feet to the fire, so they get repair work done as quickly as possible while still protecting the public."

After Midtown Pedestrian Death, City Looks To Update Rules For Façade Inspections
December 30, 2019

The Department of Buildings is revising the rules for façade inspections after a woman was killed by falling debris earlier this month. It was Dec. 17 when Erica Tishman became the victim of every New Yorker's worst nightmare. The 60-year-old architect was walking down the street near Times Square when debris from a building façade came crashing down from above. She was killed. That incident has prompted the DOB to expedite rule changes to strengthen the inspection process for building façades, CBS2's Nick Caloway reports. The proposed changes include making inspectors get more up-close and hands-on for routine checks of buildings over six stories, meaning inspectors would be touching building façades instead of looking through zoom lenses from afar. Dozens of residents, architects and building owners appeared before a DOB public hearing on the issue Monday.

City looks to ramp up energy efficiency requirements for new buildings
December 12, 2019

New York City has proposed major revisions to its three-year-old energy code, a move designed to improve the efficiency of new buildings. A bill, introduced by Council Member Robert Cornegy on Tuesday at the request of the mayor, would require developers behind new construction projects comply with new energy conservation provisions — from requiring buildings to use more energy efficient windows to testing for air leakage in buildings over 10,000 square feet. The changes come on the heels of a new city law that mandates current buildings bigger than 25,000 square-feet meet certain emission caps or pay a fine. Buildings account for roughly 70 percent of the city's overall greenhouse gas emissions, making them a focus of efforts to meet Mayor Bill de Blasio's recent goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. "The Department of Buildings is meeting the challenge of global warming head on by tackling the largest source of our city's emissions," Melanie La Rocca, commissioner of the Department of Buildings, said in a statement to POLITICO. "Our city is an archipelago that must reckon with the reality of global warming, and we owe it to future generations of New Yorkers to take decisive action."

Construction injuries fall as city gets tough on safety
Real Estate Weekly
December 6, 2019

New York City development sites are getting safer, according to the latest numbers from the Department of Buildings. While the construction boom continues unabated, the number of workers injured during the construction of buildings has fallen by over one quarter since the beginning of this year. "The backbone of New York City's construction industry are hard-working people in the building trades hoping to earn a good day's pay and make it home safely," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "Taking care of those workers' safety is our top priority, so it's great to see that while scaffolding continues to go up across all five boroughs, construction injuries continue to decline. And thanks to continued proactive inspections and new training requirements, I'm hopeful construction-related injuries will become as rare as a vacant lot in Midtown." de Blasio was joined by Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin, and New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca to announce that injuries during the construction of buildings declined more than 26 percent in January through October 2019 compared to the same period last year.

Buildings commissioner talks priorities in final de Blasio years
The Real Deal
December 3, 2019

Often regarded as one of the more thankless City Hall gigs, the commissionership of the Department of Buildings involves overseeing 1.1 million buildings and more than 45,000 active construction sites — and a sprawling, cumbersome bureaucracy. The agency faces constant pressure from politicians, contractors, developers, unions, community groups and advocacy organizations, many pushing conflicting agendas. Melanie La Rocca, who previously served as vice president at the School Construction Authority, stepped in as DOB commissioner in June, taking over for Rick Chandler. She assumed the role at a time when the city is continuing to see high levels of construction activity but is also grappling with construction-related deaths and accidents...La Rocca recently sat down with The Real Deal to discuss the agency's priorities and her goals. Watch the video above to hear her plans for the final two-plus years of Mayor Bill de Blasio's tenure.


Enforcement sweep as safety deadline looms
Real Estate Weekly
November 28. 2019

Department of Buildings (DOB) inspectors have begun proactive sweeps of over 6,000 construction sites to educate workers about construction site safety. The sweeps come in advance of a December 1 deadline by which every worker and supervisor on major construction sites will be required to have undergone mandatory hours of safety training. "As the holidays approach, building inspectors are making their list and checking it twice to ensure every relevant site is following the rules and keeping its workers safe," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "Having every worker and supervisor on major construction sites appropriately trained by December 1 isn't just about following the law — it's about saving lives." "No family should have an empty seat at their dinner table this holiday season because safety wasn't the top priority on a work site," said Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca.

11,484 Violations: Surprise Inspections Hit N.Y. Construction Sites
New York Times
November 22, 2019

The million-dollar view of the Manhattan skyline was wasted on Nolan Gutierrez. He cared only about the danger lying at his feet: a missing railing atop an 11-story luxury condominium building under construction in Brooklyn. All that kept a distracted or careless worker from falling was some flimsy yellow hazard tape. Mr. Gutierrez, a New York City construction inspector, shows up without warning at major construction sites to conduct spot safety checks. He is part of a new SWAT team of inspectors who swoop in to ferret out any safety lapses, often leaving behind frayed nerves and a stack of violations that can bring hefty fines or even stop the work. The surprise inspections are New York's most aggressive effort to tighten oversight of construction sites after a surge in worker injuries as the city undergoes its biggest building boom in more than half a century. Construction injuries soared by 61 percent to 761 last year from 472 in 2015, according to city data. Construction fatalities, however, remained constant at 12 a year during that same period. Before, the city had typically dispatched building inspectors only for scheduled visits, or in response to accidents and complaints about possible violations. "It's a total game-changer," said Melanie La Rocca, the commissioner of the city's Buildings Department. "This is the first time that we've had a unit dedicated to 100 percent proactive visits to larger construction sites."

Like Restaurants, Buildings Will Get Grades (D's for Energy Guzzlers)
November 21, 2019

New Yorkers are used to seeing letter grades on restaurants and bagel shops. Soon offices and residential buildings will be getting something similar. Beginning next year, midsize and large buildings will not only have to report how energy-efficient (or not) they are, they will also be required to post letter grades issued by the city, based on the data the buildings submit. "We have buildings with A's and buildings with D's and everything in between," said Kelly Dougherty, the director of energy management for FirstService Residential, which oversees 500 apartment buildings in the city. The new grade system springs from Local Law 33, which was passed in 2017, signed into law in 2018 and tweaked in April of this year, when New York City passed its sweeping Climate Mobilization Act. The main goal of that ambitious legislative package is to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of buildings, which are responsible for two-thirds of emissions in the city..."People want to know what they are walking into, what they are living in and what their contribution to meeting their values are," said Melanie E. La Rocca, commissioner of the buildings department.

NYC sees drop in construction injuries
Daily News
November 25, 2019

The city saw a quarter fewer construction injuries during the first 10 months of this year even as the building boom continued. Construction injuries fell from 672 between January and October 2018 to 507 during the same 10 months of this year, a drop of nearly 25%. At the same time, the city issued about the same number of permits for major construction projects. The Department of Buildings gave 16,322 such permits during the 10-month period in 2018 and 16,291 from January to October this year. Construction fatalities also stayed flat. There were 11 fatalities from January to October 2018 and 10 during the same time frame this year. The city noted the decrease in injuries comes as the Department of Buildings launched a new safety compliance unit, which is in the process of inspecting about 6,000 sites. The unit has 38 inspectors and will get as many as 53.

6 Charged in 2018 NYC Wall Collapse That Killed Construction Worker
NBC 4 New York
November 21, 2019

Construction worker Luis Sanchez Almonte was killed in a wall collapse while working in Brooklyn September 2018. On Thursday, six people were charged in connection to the incident. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez says the death was preventable. He thinks that six people involved put profits ahead of safety. Almonte died at just 47 years old – smothered by a huge retaining wall at a Sunset Park construction site on a soggy day. Gonzalez has blamed his death on greed. "This conduct is not just unacceptable and dangerous, it is criminal," he said while announcing the indictment of six people. All six were arrested and hauled into court. They have ties to WAC Group, the construction company that was working on a massive excavation and foundation project on 39th Street. The defendants include owner Jimmy Liu. "New York City will not tolerate contractors who put workers at risk for their own greed," Department of Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca said.

An Illegal Gas Line, a Deadly Explosion and Now Guilty Verdicts
New York Times
November 15, 2019

In a Manhattan neighborhood filled with shops, restaurants and luxury housing, Maria Hrynenko saw an opportunity to expand her family's real estate empire. But, prosecutors said, she cut corners to do so and the consequences proved deadly: In March 2015, a gas explosion leveled half of an East Village block, killing two young men at a sushi restaurant and injuring 13 others. After more than two months of testimony, a jury in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Friday found Ms. Hrynenko, a general contractor and an unlicensed plumber guilty of manslaughter and related offenses when they installed an illegal gas line, causing the explosion. They each face up to 15 years in prison on the top charge...Mr. Hrynenko, 31, was charged for his role in the scheme, but he died in 2017 while awaiting trial. A fifth person, Andrew Trombettas, a licensed plumber, pleaded guilty to lesser charges in January. Prosecutors said Mr. Trombettas sold the use of his credentials to Mr. Ioannidis, who had submitted work permits to the Department of Buildings and Con Edison.

Industry braced for ʻbig kahunaʼ
Real Estate Weekly
November 12, 2019

In her first major speech to members of New York's real estate community, Department of Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca signaled big changes to how the city works with the development community. And she vowed to help the industry as it tackles "the big kahuna" of local laws aimed at making New York one of the greenest cities on the planet. "We want the industry to be successful because your success is our success," said La Rocca. After months of acrimony between in the industry and city hall over everything from capping broker fees to overhauling rent regulations, La Rocca said she was committed to working with the industry to affect a "culture change." "A collective voice is incredibly important to my agency and knowing where we stand and where you all stand is important to our work," she said. "Our work will always be interconnected and my department cannot and should not take actions without knowing what the impacts are, so when we say we are committed to a relationship, it means from start to finish. It means we may not always agree, but we want to know what your concerns are and we want to know how we can be more helpful to the industry to get your jobs done so we can all move onto the next project."

City doing surprise lead inspections on older buildings
The Real Deal
November 13, 2019

Two city agencies are teaming up to perform surprise lead inspections on older buildings undergoing work. The Buildings and Health departments are showing up unannounced at sites with active construction permits, targeting pre-1978 buildings under renovation. Inspectors are looking for excessive dust. If lead is found in the dust, additional violations and a stop-work order are issued. So far this year the agencies have conducted 63 such inspections and issued 39 violations at 17 different buildings for dust and other problems, according to the Department of Buildings. Lead was found at four properties in Manhattan, three of which have since resolved the violations. A stop-work order remains active at the fourth, 582 Academy Street, for excessive dust in the building. Its manager, Barberry Rose Management, could not immediately be reached for comment.


Day of Action for immigration workers on safety training
Caribbean Life
October 31, 2019

The de Blasio administration on Monday announced a Day of Action for Nov. 7 to inform day laborers, including immigrant workers, in the construction industry about the upcoming Dec. 1 deadline for workers and supervisors to obtain site safety training as required under Local Law 196 of 2017. According to Jose Bayona, director of Community & Ethnic Media, New York City Mayor's Office, the Day of Action will direct city agencies, in partnership with day laborer organizations, to conduct outreach to day laborers, including immigrant workers... To meet the upcoming training requirements, Bayona said workers and supervisors can obtain safety training from any Department of Buildings (DOB)-approved course provider, or by taking OSHA-10 or OSHA-30 classes from an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certified training provider.

New online map gives more transparency to night construction work
October 26, 2019

Nighttime construction in the city can be maddening for New Yorkers, and the issue has been getting attention lately from city officials. Weeks after City Council introduced legislation that would limit how often such construction can be done, the Department of Buildings has released an online interactive map that helps residents look up details about night work and whether it is being legally done with an after-hours variance (AHV) permit. The map can be found at The new feature includes locations of all construction spots across the city with an AHV, which is required for work before 7 a.m. and after 6 p.m., or on the weekend. There are currently over 1,400 locations listed on the site. The new feature includes links to the DOB's public database, which has further details about permits, like the days and hours of the permitted work, the type of work, and the reason why after-hours work was allowed.

Multilingual campaign aiming to keep immigrant workers safe
Real Estate Weekly
October 24, 2019

Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca announced that multilingual notices about safety-training requirements must be posted at the exits of New York City's larger construction sites. The new mandate requires the signs to be posted in every language that is used by workers to communicate at each specific construction site, and is part of the agency's ongoing campaign to raise awareness about the upcoming deadlines for workers and supervisors to obtain site safety training as required under Local Law 196 of 2017. Commissioner La Rocca unveiled one of the new multilingual signs in Coney Island, Brooklyn, at the construction site for a new 11-story hospital building at NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island. Starting on December 1, workers at large, complex construction sites will be required to have at least 30 hours of site-safety training, and supervisors must have at least 62 hours of training. On September 1, 2020, workers will be required to have 40 hours of training.

DOB to require 30 hours of safety training for major construction sites in NYC
News 12 Brooklyn
October 15, 2019

The city's Buildings Department is taking steps toward safer construction sites. There have been eight fatalities at construction sites across the city this year alone, according to the Department of Buildings. To prevent that, the department is requiring safety training. But in less than two months, workers at all major construction sites across the city will be required to pass additional training. Workers at large construction sites are currently only required to have 10 hours of safety training. As of Dec. 1, they'll be required to have 30 hours. By September 2020, the workers will be required to have 40 hours...It is also now requiring new multilingual signs at all sites. The DOB says that prior to Local Law 196, which passed in 2017, there was no legally required training. This new training highlights things like using lifeline harnesses correctly, ensuring there's proper netting and railing up, keeping the site clear of debris and a slew of other things that will ultimately keep the men and women safe.

Campaña para advertir sobre los peligros de vivir en viviendas con modificaciones ilegales (add Spanish language tag)
NY1 Noticias
October 9, 2019

Los apartamentos con modificaciones ilegales son un asunto de vida o muerte. Por eso, este martes, personal del departamento de Edificios y Bomberos, entregaron panfletos afuera de la estación de trenes East Broadway en el Lower East Side, sobre los peligros de vivir en una de estas viviendas. "La idea es fantástica porque muchas personas no están conscientes del peligro que corren y es muy bueno que las autoridades los mantengan al tanto de que no deben correrse ningún chance", dijo una vecina. La activiad es parte de una campaña de dos semana para alertar a los neoyorquinos de esa área donde a finales de agosto se encontraron un total de 27 apartamentos divididos ilegalmente. Los últimos dos pisos de del edificio 165 de la calle Henry estaban divididos en dos, horizontalmente. 9 apartartamentos con techos de una altura promedio de 5 pies, tan pequeños que allí dentro había que caminar casi de rodillas.

OSHA 30 horas para evitar multas (add Spanish language tag)
Queens Latino
October 8, 2019

Los obreros de construcción que no hayan tomado la clase de seguridad de 30 horas de OSHA, comenzarán a ser multados desde el primero de diciembre de este año. Tambien serán multados los dueños de las empresas de construcción que los contraten. Los supervisores deberán cumplir 62 horas de entrenamiento o también serán multados...El Departamento de Edificios de Nueva York (DOB) puede multar al dueño del lugar y al responsable de los permisos con 5,000 dólares por cada obrero sin el certificado de OSHA.

DOI busts 2 contractors for trying to bribe city buildings inspector
New York Post
October 1, 2019

A pair of contractors working a job in Queens were busted for waving hundreds of dollars in cash under the nose of a city buildings inspector in a slimy bid to evade construction violations, officials announced Tuesday. Brooklyn residents Ismail Mohammad Hassan, 22, and Mohamed Ali Hassan, 50, were both slapped with a felony charge of bribery in the third degree Monday after they allegedly were caught red-handed, the city Department of Investigation said. The DOI launched its probe after an inspector with the Department of Buildings notified the agency he was offered $400 to sweep some violations under the rug at a construction site on Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood, Queens, on Monday. The DOI put the inspector under surveillance and had him return to the job site to speak with the suspects..."This investigation shows how quickly corruption can be stopped when city employees embrace their mandate to report wrongdoing to DOI," department Commissioner Margaret Garnett said in a statement..."I commend this DOB Inspector who stood up for integrity and for all New Yorkers," said Garnett.


Why Construction Noise Is Keeping You Up at 3 A.M.
New York Times
September 27, 2019

Building is booming in New York City. Construction spending reached a record $61.5 billion in 2018, according to the New York Building Congress, a trade group. And, according to the state comptroller's office, construction firms accounted for 10 percent of the city's economic output last year. But it is nearly impossible to get all of that work done on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., the normal construction hours in the city. The Department of Buildings issued around 67,000 new and renewed variance permits last year, more than double the 31,569 issued in 2012, records show. The permits are lucrative for the city, bringing in $21.8 million in fees for construction activity in Manhattan alone. But as overnight work increases, so do noise complaints. Last year, the Department of Buildings received 3,700 complaints prompted by projects operating with after-hours variance permits.

The technology that's remaking construction
City & State
September 25, 2019

Construction may be one of the last industries to begin incorporating technology into day-to-day operations, but now that construction's digital revolution is upon us, stakeholders in New York are looking at how they too can innovate in the field. At City & State's Rebuilding NY Summit on Tuesday, Leena Panchwagh, chief innovation officer at the New York City Department of Buildings, and Youssef Kalad, program director of NYCx at the Mayor's Office of the Chief Technology Officer, weighed in on what New York is doing to be at the forefront of innovation in construction and development. Much of Panchwagh's work at the DOB has been focused on internal innovation, as the department is in the process of a full digital transformation, putting its services online and moving away from paper. And while Kalad's work doesn't focus on the construction industry, he said there's a wealth of technologies that have the potential to make productivity and safety gains in construction and development.

Commish counts down to training deadline
Real Estate Weekly
September 20, 2019

Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca has announced the next phase of the agency's campaign to inform the construction industry about the upcoming December 1, 2019 deadline for workers and supervisors to obtain site safety training as required under Local Law 196 of 2017. The campaign features direct DOB outreach to workers on construction sites in all five boroughs, multilingual advertisements in 30 community newspapers, and 1,000 subway ads system-wide. Starting in December, workers at major construction sites will be required to have at least 30 hours of site-safety training, and supervisors must have at least 62 hours of training. The exact locations of the 8,000-plus construction sites where training is required can be seen in DOB's interactive map. "Safety training for everyone working on these site safety construction sites is a foundational building block in our shared mission to keep these sites safe for workers and the public," said Commissioner La Rocca.

Here's How NYC Is Trying To Shrink Buildings' Big Carbon Footprints
September 19 2019

This past spring, New York City enacted landmark legislation that seeks to dramatically reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of large buildings like the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center. The passage of the bill, which was the centerpiece of a package of proposals called the Climate Mobilization Act, was hailed as a bold and aggressive action that takes aim at the city's most iconic and polluting assets. New York's large and aging building stock has long been one of the city's worst environmental offenders. All told, buildings are responsible for contributing nearly 70 percent to the city's carbon emissions, through their high demands for heating, cooling and lighting and a tendency, especially among older structures, to be inefficient through either poor insulation or old windows. But they also represent the domain of one of the city's most politically powerful interest groups: landlords and the real estate industry, who objected to the plan due to costs and what they saw as unfair selection of buildings...A new agency called the Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance is currently being staffed within the city's Department of Buildings. Designed to be up and running by the beginning of 2020, the office will collect data, certify compliance as well as issue fines.

City moves to revoke license of contractor it blames for construction worker's death
The Real Deal
September 16, 2019

The city wants to take away the license of a contractor who it alleges was responsible for the death of a construction worker at a rental building in Turtle Bay earlier this year. The Department of Buildings announced on Monday it has sued to take away the special rigger license of contractor Wlodzimierz Tomczak, whose negligence the agency maintains caused the death of a construction worker on April 8 at 311 East 50th Street. The worker was repairing masonry on a scaffold at the 14-story rental building when a falling coping stone hit him in the head and killed him. Kenneth Rotner's Great Bay Building Company owns the property and was granted a DOB permit in 2018 for $48,000 worth of exterior repairs. The coping stone was being used as an anchor point for a set of C-hook devices that affixed the scaffold to the building, and investigators from the DOB are accusing Tomczak of failing to make sure that the C-hook and scaffold were installed and maintained properly.

Instan a trabajadores de construcción a que hagan el curso sobre seguridad en el trabajo (add Spanish language tag)
NY1 Noticias
September 13, 2019

En un obra en Brooklyn, cientos de trabajadores realizan labores peligrosos de construcción bajo enormes gruas, a grandes alturas y utilizando maquinaria pesada. Este mismo lugar fue el que visitó la comisionada del departamento de Edificios, Melanie La Rocca, para informar a los trabajadores que a partir del primero de diciembre no podrán trabajar si no obtienen el curso de seguridad de OSHA de 30 horas.

Construction bigs get licenses pulled over tragic job site death
Daily News
September 3, 2019

The city is yanking licenses from two companies involved in the June work-site death of a construction worker in Harlem, officials told the Daily News Tuesday. The city Buildings Department suspended the special rigger licenses of Wayne Bellet of Bellet Construction and Mohammad Bhutta of Zain Contracting, alleging the two companies failed to get the proper permits before erecting shoddy scaffolding at an Upper Manhattan apartment building. Carlos Olmedo Lala, 44, died after falling from the second level of the scaffolding June 22, according to a Building Department inspector's report. DOI is continuing to investigate the death at the St. Nicholas Ave. building. The family of Lala, who was from Ecuador, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. His death is the city's eighth construction fatality in 2019. Over the past four years, a total of 44 workers have died on job sites. The numbers have remained steady since 2016, when 12 workers died. In 2017 and 2018, 12 workers died each year as well, according to Buildings Department data. Aside from suspending their licenses, the Buildings Department issued 15 "aggravated" violations against Bellet and Bhutta, including tickets for lack of adequate supervision, no record of scaffold installation logs and no records of required inspections.


Condo owner busted for building 'Being John Malkovich'-like 4th 1/2 floor
New York Post
August 16, 2019

The real estate market in New York has never been this tight. A Lower East Side condo owner turned his small apartment into a mini-village — by converting it into an illegal duplex with 11 sub-units that had ceilings as low as 4 ¹/₂ feet high, officials said Friday. The illegal micro apartments at 165 Henry Street are so cramped that condo owner Xue Ping Ni even put up bubble wrap as protection to keep residents from hitting their heads on the many low-hanging pipes. The bizarre arrangement in Ni's apartment No. 601 — which was raided and shut down Wednesday night by the city Buildings Department — was compared to something out of a movie. "This is like the room out of the movie 'Being John Malkovich,'" said Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos — a nod to the "7th 1/2 floor" Manhattan office in the 1999 indie flick. "It was funny in fiction, but a horror story in real life." It wasn't clear how much rent Ni was charging for the tiny units. But the residents there were stacked like sardines, as the 11 windowless units were all carved out of the upper-areas of Ni's single 634-square-foot condo on the building's 4th floor.


Construction Training Serves Important 'Porpoise,' DOB's Hogan Says
Commercial Observer
May 9, 2019

Sharp-edged tools, falling debris and dizzying drop-offs are among the obvious hazards at big-city construction sites. But devious marine mammals can represent an even more pervasive danger, according to Timothy Hogan, the deputy commissioner of enforcement at the New York City Department of Buildings. worker training. City law requires that workers on construction sites attend training classes approved by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Hogan reminded the audience at Commercial Observer's first-ever Construction Safety Forum, held at the City University of New York's Graduate Center in Midtown yesterday. And these laborers are required to carry cards that prove they've spent time in the classroom. But when Hogan's inspectors visit work sites, they've often encountered workers with poorly counterfeited credentials—and the Department of Buildings is cracking down, he warned. As a shot across the bow, Hogan showed photos of some phony cards to demonstrate how easy they are for his inspectors to ferret out. In one case, a sentence on a fake card stated—not without irony—that the credential should not be used for "fraudulent porpoises."

Queens native picked to run Department of Buildings while construction booms citywide
May 7, 2019

A Queens woman has been appointed to run the city's Department of Buildings. Mayor Bill de Blasio named Melanie La Rocca as commissioner of the DOB, which regulates the city's real estate and construction industries and enforces the agency's laws to protect tenants from construction harassment. La Rocca, who grew up in Flushing and currently lives in Astoria, said she will intensify efforts to ensure the safety of construction workers. "As a lifelong New Yorker, I understand how the construction industry plays a key role in ensuring New Yorker City adapts to the changing needs of our business and local communities," La Rocca said. "I know first-hand what it takes to deliver a high-quality project in a fast-paced environment. And I understand the need to connect with all stakeholders, especially with members of the community."

Campaña con trabajadores de la construcción sobre importancia de la seguridad (add Spanish lang tag)
NY1 Noticias
May 7, 2019

El Departamento de Edificios de la ciudad lleva a cabo una campaña para recordarles a los trabajadores de la construcción de la necesidad de las medidas de seguridad en sus puestos de trabajo. La actividad es parte de la llamada Semana de la Seguridad en la Construcción. La campaña se da en el contexto de recientes accidentes de trabajo que han causado la muerte de varios trabajadores de la construcción, los últimos tres todos latinos.

SCA Executive Melanie La Rocca Chosen to Head Department of Buildings
Commercial Observer
May 6, 2019

Three months after New York City Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler left the sometimes troubled city agency, Mayor Bill de Blasio has tapped Melanie La Rocca, a vice president at the School Construction Authority, to head the Department of Buildings, Commercial Observer has learned. La Rocca will join the DOB after more than five years at the SCA, where she is currently the vice president of development and external affairs, according to the mayor's office.

CODE BREAKERS: Sciame fined after worker injured; Facade inspector suspended for false reports
Real Estate Weekly
May 2, 2019

The New York City Department of Buildings March 2019 enforcement bulletin, provides highlights of the agency's actions to sanction and deter bad actors in the construction industry through the enforcement of safety laws and codes of conduct for construction professionals. Today's bulletin includes summaries of DOB-imposed disciplinary actions, including penalties and license suspensions and revocations. The actions below represent a portion of DOB's overall work to enforce the City's building codes and safety laws, in addition to the thousands of inspections conducted and violations issued by the agency each month for illegal building and construction conditions.


Developer behind fatal facade collapse that killed 2-year-old to pay city $50K, but won't serve time
The Real Deal
April 26, 2019

The developer responsible for a 2015 facade collapse that killed a two-year-old girl and injured her grandmother has pleaded guilty to a pair of misdemeanor charges and will pay $50,000 to the city over the incident. Esplanade Venture Partnership pleaded guilty to criminally violating the city's administrative code by failing to maintain the exterior wall at 305 West End Avenue on the Upper West Side, according to the Department of Buildings. Two-year-old Greta Greene was sitting on a bench outside the residential building with her grandmother in May 2015 when bricks and terracotta fell from it, killing her and hurting her grandmother. The DOB had filed criminal charges against Esplanade in 2016 for failing to maintain the building despite receiving multiple warnings about problems with its facade. The firm was fined $25,000 for both of the charges, and its managing agent Alexander Scharf, who was also charged, has agreed to pay the city $5,000 in restitution.

City launches annual free no-penalty deck inspection program
Staten Island Advance
April 22, 2019

Monday marks the start of the ninth annual city Department of Buildings (DOB) No-Penalty Deck and Retaining Wall Inspection Program. The 45-day-long citywide initiative allows New Yorkers to call 311 to request a free, no-penalty visual inspection of their decks, porches and retaining walls, giving homeowners the opportunity to ensure that these structures are maintained in accordance with NYC Construction Codes. Following the inspection, DOB will notify homeowners of the inspector's findings and whether or not the conditions observed pose an immediate safety hazard or warrant repairs. If immediate safety hazards are found, DOB will withhold issuing violations for a limited time, giving homeowners the opportunity to make corrective repairs.


CODE BREAKERS: Owner fined $75,000 for running Airbnb; Zara, Uniqlo stores in illegal Soho spaces
Real Estate Weekly
March 29, 2019

The New York City Department of Buildings released its February 2019 enforcement bulletin, which provides highlights of the agency's actions to sanction and deter bad actors in the construction industry through the enforcement of safety laws and codes of conduct for construction professionals. Today's bulletin includes summaries of DOB-imposed disciplinary actions, including penalties and license suspensions and revocations.

DOB launches no-penalty elevator inspection program
Real Estate Weekly
March 11, 2019

The Department of Buildings announced that owners of private homes with both registered and unregistered elevators can request a DOB inspection of the device with no penalty for the next 90 days. The program comes after a woman was trapped in the elevator of a Manhattan townhouse, where she worked for three days while the owner was out of town. The woman was rescued when a delivery man contacted the owners when he couldn't gain access to the house.

New DOB maps shows all building violations, permits issued in past 12 months
The Real Deal
March 8, 2019

The Department of Buildings now has an interactive map that offers a quick glimpse at construction activity, accidents and violations in the city over the past 12 months. The map, unveiled on Friday, highlights every building that has had some interaction with the DOB in the past year. Such interactions include being issued construction permits, receiving violations and being inspected — for elevators, boilers, plumbing, facades, etc. — during that period. The map can be filtered for specific kinds of complaints received at each property, as well as for certain kinds of incidents.

The Building Inspector as Action Hero
New York Times
March 8, 2019

Suspended by ropes like the ones used by rock climbers, she slid past balcony ledges and window frames, careful not to lock eyes with dumbstruck residents. With a tiny mallet and a point-and-shoot camera, she cataloged cracks and blemishes on the building's facade, pausing at each floor to feel around for fatal flaws. If pedestrians bothered to watch, they might have applauded as she touched down near a neighboring nail salon. Without fanfare, she detached her gear, walked back inside the co-op and took the elevator to the roof for another drop — to canvass another section of the postwar building's dappled face. It's all in a day's work for a growing number of New York City's building facade inspectors. The recent building boom should keep inspectors busy. Between 2020 and 2025, some 1,500 additional buildings will be required to have inspections, said Jill Hrubecky, an executive engineer with the Department of Buildings. While some in the industry are pushing for the use of unmanned drones — heavily restricted, in most cases, in New York — this is one of the few fields where robots won't soon prevail. "Nothing is going to replace a hands-on inspection," she said.

Common Electrical Safety Problems (and How to Solve Them)
New York Times
March 8, 2019

Not all quick fixes are safe fixes — and that's especially true when it comes to outdated electrical wiring in old houses or apartments..."If you need more outlets you should call a qualified professional, rather than taking the easy way out," said Robert Diamond, head of the Electrical Development Unit at the New York City Department of Buildings. Depending on where you live, and the age of your home, a licensed electrician could charge as little as $100 to install an additional outlet — a small price for something that should make your home safer for years to come.


NYC's construction boom appears to have peaked
January 22, 2019

New York City's construction boom is showing signs of slowing. New construction around the city is still strong throughout the five boroughs, especially in Manhattan, but the number of new sites appeared to cool last year, according to data released by the buildings department. Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler unveiled the department's report on 2018 construction on Tuesday, and found that the city had issued 165,988 permits last year, the second highest on record. That represented a drop of 2,255 permits issued by the buildings department, compared with 2017, the first decline in permits since 2009, according to Chandler.

DOB commissioner to step down at the end of month
The Real Deal
January 4, 2019

Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler is stepping down at the end of this month. Chandler, 58, will retire February 1, he confirmed to The Real Deal on Friday. First Deputy Commissioner Thomas Fariello will take over as acting commissioner until the mayor appoints Chandler's replacement...As commissioner, Chandler headed an agency tasked with assuring 1.1 million buildings and more than 45,000 active construction sites abided by the city's building codes. While in office, he oversaw the agency's modernization efforts, which included digitizing construction filings and inspection records.



Inspector warns about dangers of illegal home conversions
News 12 Bronx
December 13, 2018

Inspector Warren Hall, with the city's Department of Buildings, is warning residents about the dangers of illegal home conversions. The Department of Buildings says violations for the dangerous practice of illegal home conversions have spiked over the last year in the borough. His job is to make sure that homes are being used how they were intended to be used - by law.


News 12 rides along with DOB for illegal conversion crackdown
News 12 Brooklyn
November 30, 2018

News 12 rode along with the Department of Buildings to see how the city is tackling illegal home conversions. Paula Vasan joined Building Inspector Chris Vasquez as he tracked complaints of illegal conversions. Day in and day out, Vasquez drives around the city making sure homes are being used for what city documents say they are intended for. For example, he says, a space can't have a bedroom if it is intended to be solely storage and boiler. It all boils down to safety. City officials say they see more and more illegal conversions, and that they can be fire hazards putting people at risk.

New York City Construction, in a Snapshot
New York Times
November 22, 2018

No matter how densely packed New York City is, it continues to grow, with buildings constantly being expanded or replaced by new ones. An exhaustive new Department of Buildings website paints a detailed picture of exactly what is currently being built, pinpointing every major construction permit on a map. It also allows visitors to retrieve detailed information on each of the projects, including the address; the square footage; the proposed number of new units; the estimated cost of construction; permit issue and expiration dates; and the name of the contractor in charge. There are even links to plumbing, electrical and other permits issued, as well as the building's certificate of occupancy and Department of Buildings violations, if any.

Two Construction Managers Face Criminal Charges in Crane Accident
Wall Street Journal
November 18, 2018

An orange mini-crane was lifting a glass wall-panel onto an East Harlem condominium project last June when its 14-foot-long jib dipped abruptly. A moment later, the entire crane somersaulted to the street below. Prosecutors with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office charged two construction company managers on Thursday with felony assault and reckless endangerment in connection with the accident, which left two ironworkers with disabling injuries. In announcing the charges, officials described a series of bungles that they said contributed to the accident: The worker operating the crane was untrained, the crane wasn't tethered down and its load exceeded the maximum capacity for the way it was used. In addition, Department of Buildings safety protocols hadn't been followed, including the requirement that contractors submit engineer plans for crane use, officials said. The two defendants' "callous disregard for safety rules, combined with a wildly overtaxed mini-crane nearly cost several workers their lives," said DOB Commissioner Rick Chandler.


Zombie house reported to DOB for illegal business
Staten Island Advance
September 25, 2018

As part of its crackdown on illegal home businesses, the city Buildings Department (DOB) has issued violations to a Port Richmond zombie house with an alleged illegal operation on the property. A one-family home -- marred with graffiti, boarded-up windows, broken steps and a "no trespassing sign" -- on Jewett Avenue was issued a violation in August by DOB for illegal construction material storage on the property.
The owner of the home is facing a hearing on Oct. 3 at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) for the violation, according to Andrew Rudansky, a DOB spokesman.

City calls on artists to add flair to drab construction fences in two-year pilot program
September 19, 2018

On September 12, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs announced a search for applicants for a new pilot program called City Canvas, Archpaper reports. The program was designed to beautify New York City's visual landscape by installing large-scale–and temporary–artwork on its endless construction fences and 270 miles of sidewalk sheds. Buildings Commissioner Rick D. Chandler said "If anyone can bring some love to the sidewalk sheds New Yorkers love to hate, it's our city's artists."

Buildings Department cracking down on illegal home businesses
Staten Island Advance
September 10, 2018

The city Buildings Department's (DOB) Sign and Padlock Unit has shuttered two businesses operating illegally from Staten Island residential properties, and has issued either violations or warning letters to six others. From the size of the space and zoning of the area, to the conversion of a basement into a warehouse, there are many reasons certain businesses that operate from a private residence are doing so illegally.


Lot-Line Window? Keep Your Fingers Crossed
New York Times
August 31, 2018

When Jason Biggs and Jenny Mollen bought their TriBeCa loft in 2013, they weren't concerned that the living room windows were on the side of the building that bordered the adjoining property. In fact, they were perfectly positioned to offer views of the Hudson River over the parking lot next door. Then the parking lot owners got bought out. Related Companies began construction on a 10-story luxury rental building on the site and, within a year, the couple's wide shot of the river became a close-up of a wall...The windows appear mostly in older buildings that were originally erected next to empty lots or lower structures, said Tom Fariello, first deputy commissioner for the New York City Department of Buildings. Some newer buildings will put them in and submit a document filed with the deed so that anyone, including future potential buyers, can know that if something is built next door, the windows will have to be blocked up.

A Real-Time Map Tracks the Building Frenzy That's Transforming New York
New York Times
August 21, 2018

Just walk down any street these days for a New York experience as authentic — and unavoidable — as gridlock and dollar pizza: construction. Now there is a handy way to keep track of it.The New York City buildings department has created an online construction map that tracks every major project across the five boroughs in real time — there were 7,425 of them as of Tuesday — making it easier to look up where all that hammering and banging is coming from, and to find out who exactly is responsible for disturbing the neighborhood peace. The new map gives an overview of the frenzy of construction that has transformed blocks and entire neighborhoods. The buildings department issued 168,233 construction permits in 2017, its most ever — up from 125,579 construction permits in 2007. The largest chunk of those permits, 73,489, was, not surprisingly, for buildings in Manhattan, followed by Brooklyn (42,830) and Queens (32,401). The permits cover both new projects and multiyear projects that require annual permit renewals.

The Underground Apartment Market
New York Times
August 17, 2018

Both buyers and developers, typically preoccupied with skyward apartments, are reconsidering the lowly basement. As prices continue to decline in the luxury market, developers are keen on maximizing every square foot, including below-grade space, while buyers seek out bargains in a supply-heavy market. Developers are digging deeper for taller ceilings, installing full length windows and using clever sleight of hand — in the market for a photo studio? — to make the space appealing. There are restrictions on what residents can do on the lower level, which is part of the reason the space trades for less. For sunlight, ventilation and other safety reasons, the city does not permit bedrooms in space that is completely below grade, said Tom Fariello, first deputy commissioner of the Department of Buildings. And plumbing is limited to half bathrooms, meaning no showers, to deter illegal basement rentals.

As costs rise, builders taking fresh look at timber
Real Estate Weekly
August 15, 2018

As costs and concerns tied to cement and steel construction continue to rise, some regulators, builders and environmentalists are taking a fresh look at an old material. Timber high-rises have been drawn up and executed around the world, from far-flung locales such as London, Paris and Vancouver to nearby Newark. Proponents praise these projects as healthier options for the planet at large as well as individual occupants... However, an ongoing review of the International Building Code policy on timber construction could pave the way for changes in New York and other lumber-leery metropolises. "We're always going to look to the past but we also want to allow innovation to happen," Tom Fariello, the DOB's first deputy commissioner said. "But the stakes are really high here. We're all close together. We live close together, we work close together, we ride the subway close together. We don't want anything going up that's going to jeopardize our safety."


DOB commissioner: Staten Island booming with development
Staten Island Advance
July 27, 2018

There are more new buildings going up on Staten Island than there are in Manhattan and the Bronx combined, said Rick D. Chandler, commissioner of the city Department of Buildings (DOB). "There is so much going on in Staten Island; there are so many new buildings going up. ...Staten Island is happening," he said on his visit to Staten Island this week. "There is opportunity happening on the North Shore. [Empire Outlets] and the New York Wheel are a catalyst [for development]. ...With a lot of single-family home development, Matrix [Global Logistics Park], the Staten Island Mall construction and Build it Back homes, it's [building on Staten Island] pretty incredible," added Chandler.

All the City's Sidewalk Sheds
New York Times
June 14, 2018

Sidewalk sheds, those temporary metal-and-wood structures that can sometimes feel creepy to walk under, are everywhere in New York City. They aren't pretty, but they do perform the important function of protecting pedestrians from crumbling building facades and other construction hazards above... A new Sidewalk Shed website maintained by the Department of Buildings is updated daily with information about every shed in the city. This week's chart offers a recent snapshot.

A Year Has Passed Since the Grenfell Tower Fire
NY Magazine
June 14, 2018

The obvious question: If dozens of Londoners can die in a single night from a combination of lax regulations and wishful thinking, do Americans face the same dangers? Not exactly the same ones, no. Grenfell Tower's aluminum panels, with their combustible polyethylene core, are prohibited in New York, and probably everywhere in the U.S. (It's hard to be certain about that because building codes vary from state to state and city to city.) New York's Department of Buildings keeps a list of specific products that have been approved for use. A building owner who wants to add some new technology to that list must hire an independent consultant to follow a protocol called NFPA 285, which describes in detail how to test whether a building will burn from the outside. "You have to get it tested by someone qualified," says Gus Sirakis, assistant commissioner for technical affairs at the Department of Buildings. "It's not just PR."

Inspectors ensure ride safety before Feast of St. Anthony
News 12 Bronx
June 13, 2018

City building inspectors worked to ensure ride safety ahead of the start of the annual Feast of St. Anthony on Wednesday. The Department of Buildings' elevator division inspects about 700 portable rides at city street fairs every year. The specialized unit is also responsible for checking about 200 permanent rides at places such as Luna Park in Brooklyn.

3 steps to make GIS part of a successful smart city
Smart Cities Dive
June 8, 2018

There's a revolution in civic innovation taking place in most major cities around the world. One by one, cities are realizing the need to provide easy access to open spatial data and interactive map apps for partner agencies and local governments... o, conveying complex information to people who may not have a deep or professional understanding of it can be easier with data-driven maps and animated graphics. One example of this strategy is a comprehensive report of New York City's elevators created by the Department of Buildings (DOB).

The challenge of zero net goals and Architecture 2030's new Zero Code
AIA Knowledge Net
June 8, 2018

Gina Bocra, Chief Sustainability Officer at the NYC Department of Buildings, writes that Zero Code, released in April, is Architecture 2030's proposal to guide jurisdictions to a different model building energy standard for new commercial, institutional, and mid- to high-rise residential buildings, one that is intended to achieve zero-net-carbon (ZNC) buildings. It's based on ASHRAE 90.1-2016, which leading jurisdictions will be adopting over the next year or two. If you also read that as many jurisdictions will not be adopting it anytime soon, you would be correct; despite federal law that requires states to maintain an energy code that is consistent with the national standard, many states are one or two cycles behind, and some are even farther. But, one beautiful aspect of the new Zero Code is that it could actually be based on any energy standard; it's not exclusive. A handy calculator has been created to assist the building team with predicting their renewable energy needs based on a number of codes, so maybe it's a matter of adjusting the math.

DOB Commissioner on Inspectors, Violations, and Appeals
June 4, 2018

Rick Chandler has been commissioner of the city's Department of Buildings (DOB) since 2014. He talked with Habitat recently about issues facing co-op and condo boards and their professionals

How inspectors ensure city amusement rides are safe
June 1, 2018

Each day from April to October as many as 10 city Department of Buildings elevator inspectors examine amusement park rides. Roughly 20 of the 44 elevator inspectors are qualified to clear rides for use.


Department of Buildings Conference Cites Risk Reduction as a 'Moral Imperative'
Chelsea Now
May 16, 2018

Twelve construction workers died in 2017, a fatality number that has remained the same for the last three years. "The 12 fatalities are unacceptable," said Timothy Hogan, NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) Deputy Commissioner, Enforcement. He was speaking to over 350 building professionals at the DOB's eighth annual Build Safe/Live Safe conference on May 10... Whether the topic was structural stability, gas work, excavation or classifying housing, the emphasis never veered from what could be done to keep the almost 160,000 workers at our city's construction sites from harm, not to mention the rest of us who walk under scaffolding and around big machinery every day.

An Exclusive Interview with DOB Commissioner Rick Chandler
May 15, 2018

Rick Chandler has been commissioner of the city's Department of Buildings (DOB) since 2014. He talked with Habitat recently about issues facing co-op and condo boards and their professionals.

DOB takes construction safety on the road
Real Estate Weekly
May 14, 2018

The Department of Buildings is taking construction safety on the road this week in an annual effort to keep New York and New Yorkers safe. Construction Safety Week serves to reinforce DOB efforts during an unprecedented construction boom, with record numbers of permits issued and workers employed in the building trades. For Construction Safety Week, DOB staff are fanning out across the five boroughs to raise awareness about new construction safety regulations signed into law by Mayor de Blasio in 2017.

DOB to hike penalties for violating stop-work orders
The Real Deal
May 11, 2018

The city will soon bump up fines for violating stop-work orders on construction sites, adding another $1,000 to penalties imposed for first-time offenses. Starting June 18, the Department of Buildings will impose penalties of $6,000 for initial offenses and then $12,000 for every subsequent violation. Currently, the agency charges $5,000 for the former and $10,000 for the latter.

Comisionado de DOB cara a cara con trabajadores (add Spanish lang tag)
May 10, 2018

"Deberíamos estar más indignados", dijo el comisionado del Departamento de Edificios.

La seguridad en obras llega a jornaleros e indocumentados en NYC (add Spanish lang tag)
El Diario
May 10, 2018

"Le va a parecer algo cursi lo que le voy a decir pero lo que queremos es que la gente vaya a trabajar, lo haga y al final de la jornada vuelva a su casa a disfrutar de su hogar y su familia". Esta dinámica diaria para muchos trabajadores es algo que el comisionado del Departamento de Edificios (DOB en sus siglas en inglés), Rick Chandler, quiere que lo sea sin excepciones en la construcción, ya se sea empleado especializado de una constructora, miembro de sindicato o jornalero indocumentado como el ecuatoriano Edgar Pazmiño quien no volvió a ver a su familia cuando dejó su casa para ir a trabajar el pasado 13 de marzo.

7 On Your Side Investigates: Bronx tenants without cooking gas for nearly a year
May 7, 2018

7 On Your Side Investigates found out a mistake by Con Edison had caused an confusion among the building owner, the hired contractors, and gas workers, which led to an unnecessary delay. Workers for Con Edison had been refusing to turn the gas on due to a partial vacate order on the property from the ceiling collapse. The New York City Department of Buildings said that order should not have kept Con Edison from doing its job.


NYC On the Lookout for Boom Trucks Being Used Improperly
April 19, 2018

Inspectors from the Department of Buildings are on the lookout for improper and illegal use of knuckle boom trucks. These trucks are popular at job sites because they can respond quickly and have a boom that can lift up to 100 feet. However, when used improperly these trucks can present real danger.

Human Remains Found in Routine DOB Search
April 16, 2018

A pair of Buildings Department inspectors discovered cremated remains in a Harlem building.

Curved Escalators, Penthouse Elevators, Giant Wheels, and Other Sweet Ways New Yorkers Get Up and Down
April 13, 2018

If you thought elevators were sad little boxes where strangers go to avoid eye contact with each other, think again. Ferris Wheels, parachute jump rides, dumbwaiters and giant freight elevators are all included in New York City's survey of vertical transportation options. And, as you'd expect, the city isn't short on ways to move up and down. There are 62,000 passenger elevators in the city, according to the Department of Buildings' new interactive project, Elevator Report 2017. The runner-up, Los Angeles, only has 25,000. Here are a few of our favorite examples of New York City's elevator supremacy—past, present and future.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About NYC's Elevators
April 12, 2018

New York City's elevators make a staggering estimated 35 million passenger trips each day. That's one of the standout statistics in a comprehensive new Elevator Report 2017 put out by the city's Department of Buildings. This first ever elevator report covers all devices under the DOB's jurisdiction that went up and down in the year 2017. That list includes passenger elevators, freight elevators, escalators, dumbwaiters, and wheelchair lifts among others.

New DOB Map Shows Sidewalk Sheds in NYC Stretch Almost 270 Miles
AM New York
April 11, 2018

The Department of Buildings released an interactive map Wednesday that shows all active permits for sidewalk sheds across the five boroughs. Often confused with scaffolding, the sheds are required for any construction work or building renovation project involving facades so that pedestrians can walk underneath protected from debris. The map allows New Yorkers to see the age, borough, community board, permits and other details for every sidewalk shed in the city, according to the DOB.

New Tool Tracks Scaffolding in NYC
April 10, 2018

A new tool released by the NYC Department of Buildings is available to New Yorkers trying to figure out how long so-called zombie scaffolding in the city.

7 On Your Side Investigates joins DOB on surprise crane inspections
April 4, 2018

High winds are not uncommon in New York City and across the Tri-State Area and come with a warning to construction crews to make sure huge cranes are properly secured. The Department of Buildings made surprise inspections Wednesday to check if construction companies were in compliance, and 7 On Your Side Investigates Jim Hoffer was along for the ride.


DOB Won't Collect Personal Information on Undocumented Construction Workers
The Real Deal
March 29, 2018

The Department of Buildings will not collect personal information from undocumented construction workers despite a new law that will require officials to keep track of safety training completed by laborers. The City Council approved a construction safety bill in September, which requires workers to complete at least 40 hours of safety training by 2020. DOB Commissioner Rick Chandler said on Wednesday that the city will use ID numbers rather than personal information to keep track of workers who have gone through the necessary training, Crain's reported.

Tenant-safety is DOB top priority
NY Daily News
March 26, 2018

In the last two years, DOB and the city/state Tenant Harassment Task Force, of which we are a member, conducted more than 1,800 tenant-safety inspections and issued more than 1,300 violations. Task Force investigations have led to unprecedented penalties for bad-actor landlords, including jail time. DOB also worked closely with members of the City Council to pass 12 pieces of legislation to protect tenants and target bad actors. We are proud of our work to protect tenants.


Travel Advisory Issued as Snow Expected to Slam NYC this Weekend
PIX 11
February 16, 2018

NYC Emergency officials have issued a hazardous travel advisory for Saturday evening through Sunday morning due to snow that is expected to slam the area. DOB has issued a weather advisory reminding property owners, contractors and crane operators to take precautionary measures and secure their construction sites, buildings, and equipment during this weekend's winter weather. If sites are not secured, the Department will take enforcement action - issuing violations and stop-work orders, where necessary. DOB is reminding all construction contractors and property owners to secure their work sites and buildings in advance of the inclement weather.

How Safe is the City's Scaffolding?
PIX 11
February 12, 2018

Spend five minutes in New York and you will end up walking under some of the nearly 300 miles of scaffolding in the city. PIX 11 investigated how safe all of it is, and why it never seems to go away.


DOB: Collapsed SoHo Shed a Result of Cutting Corners, Could've Been Prevented
January 30, 2018

Poor design, poor construction, and a rubber-stamp approval by an engineer who self-certifies his own work: It was a perfect storm of incompetence, which is what Eyewitness News Investigates has discovered happened to a scaffolding shed that blew down last fall in Manhattan... We've now learned that the builder, Rock Group, constructed an inferior shed that lacked the required structural support to withstand winds. The DOB also found that the engineer, Daniel Odigie, submitted a poor shed design, and an agency spokesman said Odigie is now barred from filing any future shed permits with the city, forever.

How a Team of New York City Inspectors Helped Puerto Rico After Maria
The New York Times
January 14, 2018

The Department of Buildings sent a 14-member team to inspect damage to homes and government buildings after Hurricane Maria slammed into the island in September. Inspectors assessed nearly 5,100 structures, helping local officials understand the magnitude of the destruction.

Tips to Prevent Ice, Snow from Dangerously Falling Onto a Street
January 9, 2018

A chunk of ice fell from a building facade on Charlton Street in SoHo around 5 p.m. Tuesday, crushing part of a car parked on the street below. No one was hurt, and city firefighters cleared all remaining ice from the building. But with the city warming up in the wake of Thursday's snow storm, the city building department has advised New Yorkers to do their part to clear their properties so ice or snow does not fall into the street and potentially injure anyone or damage any other property.



Spotlight on Construction
City & State New York
December 20, 2017

In New York state, construction is king. From massive infrastructure projects, such as the replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge with the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, to the constantly evolving urban landscape of New York City, the state has one of the most active, storied and experienced building industries in the country. To better understand a few of these issues and where they stand as state lawmakers gear up for another legislative session, we spoke with Rick Chandler, commissioner of the New York City Department of Buildings.


Construction Permits and a New York Building Boom
The New York Times
November 30, 2017

New York City has introduced a new website that gives the public a peek at Department of Buildings data across the boroughs. Among the insights it offers is a rundown of construction permits issued between 2000 and 2016. The types of building permits and where they were issued tell the story of recent growth in the city.

Check Out DOB's Flashy Analysis of 20 Years of Construction
The Real Deal
November 16, 2017
The Department of Buildings on Wednesday unveiled a comprehensive analysis of construction volume in the city dating back nearly 20 years. The "NYC Construction Dashboard" highlights the volume of permits — for new buildings, renovations, minor alterations and demolitions — issued during the third quarter of 2017. Through a series of interactive maps and charts, the dashboard compares the year's latest data with that of previous quarters, dating back to 2000. The DOB will update the charts quarterly, tracking both newly issued permits and those that have been renewed.


NYT: Our First Responders in Puerto Rico
The New York Times
September 28, 2017

Our city is home to 700,000 Puerto Ricans. And since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico last week, killing at least 10 people and leaving the area on the verge of a humanitarian crisis, New York has ramped up its relief efforts... There are now more than 140 city personnel on the ground in Puerto Rico. Among them: New York Task Force One, our urban search and rescue team; workers from the city's Buildings Department who have expertise in inspections; members of our Police and Fire Departments who specialize in structural collapses and water rescues; and members of both departments' Hispanic societies.


Alert Building Inspectors Avert Disaster in Queens
PIX 11
August 31, 2017

Half a dozen construction workers were within seconds of disaster when the sharp eyes of two building inspectors noticed the top of the Queens building was about to collapse. Building inspectors Joseph Martucci and Johnny Mendez were examining gas lines in a house across the street when their eyes shifted to the house being renovated. They quickly spotted movement that could trap a worker. He and Mendez dashed to the site and shouted for the other workers to get out of the way.

Buildings Department Investigates Illegal Home Conversions
August 31, 2017
Illegal home conversions are a key issue in several city council races among the five boroughs. The New York City Department of Buildings has thousands of open complaints, which is why each week, several marshals investigate the complaints with one goal in mind: keeping New Yorkers safe.


City Cracks Down on Oversized SoHo Retailers
New York Post
May 20, 2017

The city has cracked down on oversized Soho shops that have operated for years despite zoning laws prohibiting the mammoth retailers. The city Department of Buildings slapped five stores — Zara, Uniqlo, Hollister, Topshop and American Eagle — with violations for exceeding the 10,000-square-foot limit in the area. Residents have long complained that the stores are bad neighbors with excessively bright lighting, noisy nighttime deliveries and special events that draw excessive crowds.

DOB Cracks Down on Alleged Abusers of Speedy Permit Privileges
The Real Deal
May 5, 2017

In the past month, the DOB has cracked down on several alleged "bad actors" who violated city construction codes and zoning resolutions by giving professionals a choice: Either forfeit their privileges or prepare to fight for them in court.

New York Has 280 Miles of Scaffolding, and a Map to Navigate It
The New York Times
May 2, 2017

The big blue dot on the map is not a subway stop, historical site or destination restaurant. Instead, it is another New York City landmark: scaffolding. The dot marks a wood-and-steel frame covering the front of a long-unfinished project on a brownstone-lined block in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn... The Buildings Department has taken stock of scaffolding and created an online system to better track the structures at a time when there are more of them than ever as older buildings need work and a construction boom produces more towers. In a sweep last year, building inspectors checked every piece of scaffolding and while most needed to remain for safety, about 150 were ordered dismantled because work had been finished.



DOB to Streamline Construction App Process
The Commercial Observer
April 20, 2015

On April 20, 2015 the Commercial Observer reported on the Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick D. Chandler announcing the Get Back To Building Program, which is designed to get delayed jobs back on track and construction workers back to work.


A Conversation with Rick Chandler, New York City's Buildings Dept. Chief
New York Times
March 24, 2015

On March 24, 2015 the New York Times reported on an interview that was held with Commissioner Rick D. Chandler. The Commissioner discussed his interest in returning to lead the agency where he began his career in construction. He outlines goals he has for increasing efficiency and customer service at the Department including expanding online filing of jobs.



City Buildings Commish Aims to Step Up Agency's Act
Crain's New York Business
December 9, 2014

On December 9, 2014, Crain's New York Business reported Rick Chandler, the new head of the Department of Buildings, promises to fill gaps in the agency's problem-plagued electronic-filing process, do inspections during off-hours for a fee and add needed staff.


DOB Commissioner, Real Estate Leaders Push Greener Buildings
The Commercial Observer
September 23, 2014

On September 23, 2014 the Commercial Observer reported on Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick D. Chandler delivering the keynote speech at the Urban Green Council Conference. During his speech, the Commissioner discussed the Mayor de Blasio's plan to cut the city's emissions by 80 percent by 2050



As Solomon of the Rockaways, Deciding Which Homes Can't be Saved
New York Times
November 20, 2012

On November 20, 2012, the New York Times reported that in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy Department engineers, architects and inspectors worked tirelessly to assess buildings damaged by Hurricane Sandy in the City's hardest hit areas. For the piece, the Times did a ride-along with Queens Field Operations Chief John Murphy to get a firsthand look at the damage in the Rockaway Beach area.

As Crane Hung in the Sky, a Drama Unfolded to Prevent a Catastrophe Below
New York Times
November 7, 2012

On November 7, 2012, the New York Times did an in-depth story on the crane that collapsed on West 57th Street during Hurricane Sandy and the work the Department and the construction site's experts did to develop a plan to secure the crane.


Engineers Assess New York City's Dangling Crane
CBS National News
October 30, 2012

On October 30, 2012, CBS National News interviewed the Department's two engineers, Michael Alacha and Timothy Lynch, who inspected the damaged crane on West 57th Street during the night of Hurricane Sandy. In the piece, Alacha and Lynch discuss how they pushed through severe weather and high winds to examine the crane and what they saw.

Faster than a Speeding Bullet
Crain's New York Business
October 8, 2012

On October 8, 2012, Crain's New York Business profiled the NYC Development Hub, the City's new state-of-the-art plan exam review center for the facility's one year anniversary. Since opening in October 2011, the Development Hub has approved 339 new building and major construction projects, generating $1.3 billion in estimated economic activity for the City. With the use of digital plans, these projects were approved up to 3 times faster than paper-based plans.


Amid Collapsing Walls, a Bit of Luck for 3 Families
New York Times
July 9, 2012

On July 9, 2012, the New York Times reported that in the midst of a partial building collapse at 241 Carroll Street in Brooklyn on July 2, Timothy Lynch, the Executive Director of the Department's Forensic Engineering Unit, worked to make sure tenants were safe and help salvage their beloved belongings from the collapsing building.


Building' Up Brooklyn's Economy
New York Post
May 14, 2012

On May 14, 2012, the New York Post reported that new building permits in Brooklyn increased by 62% in the first four months of 2012 as compared with the same time period in 2011. Majority of the increase was the result of more than 350 new housing units underway in neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Permits Climb as Developers Up Their Bets
Wall Street Journal
May 5, 2012

On May 5, 2012, the Wall Street Journal reported that Manhattan is starting to shake "Its construction doldrums" as result of the country's economic crisis, after seeing a 169% spike in new building permits in the first four months of 2012 as compared with the same time period in 2011.


DOB Unveils New Construction Safety Program
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
April 24, 2012

On April 24, 2012, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that the Department unveiled a new program at its 2012 Build Safe/Live Safe conference to increase safety, 3D Site Safety Plans. The new program will allow Department inspectors to take a virtual, step-by-step tour of how a new building or major renovation will be constructed, visualize its complexities and challenges and review critical safety measures.

The Real Deal also picked up the story.


NYC Sees Biggest Building Permit Rise Since Crash
Crain's New York Business
March 6, 2012

On March 6, 2012, Crain's New York Business reported that construction permits were up 14% in the first two months of 2012 from the same time period last year and demolition permits, a sign of developments coming down the pipeline, were up 36.7% during the same time frame.

The Real Deal and the Huffington Post also picked up the story.


Al's Heating Service
February 8, 2012

On February 8, 2012, Fox5 produced a story on Al Lakas, an unlicensed contractor who has been cited for performing illegal plumbing work in New York City. Investigators from the Department's Internal Audits and Discipline Unit issued two criminal court summonses to Mr. Lakas for illegal work in 2009 and 2011.

Simplifying the Signage
Wall Street Journal
February 6, 2012

On February 6, 2012, the Wall Street Journal wrote about the Department's new Construction Information Panel Pilot Program, which encourages contractors and building owners to consolidate permit postings and contractor signage into one informational panel, making it easier for New Yorkers to learn about an ongoing construction project.



Coming Soon to the Sidewalks: A New Look for Scaffolding
New York Times
November 30, 2011

On December 7, 2011, Mayor Bloomberg and Buildings Commissioner LiMandri unveiled the first installation of the urbanSHED International Design Competition winning design, Urban Umbrella, at 100 Broadway in Lower Manhattan. Designed by Young-Hwan Choi and Andrés Cortés, R.A. and Sarrah Khan, P.E. of the Agencie Group, Urban Umbrella is a much needed improvement to the City's landscape. The new design, the first major overhaul of the sidewalk shed in more than 50 years opens up the sidewalk, is made almost completely of recycled materials and uses LED lighting panels with a lifespan of 11 years.

The Urban Umbrella installation announcement was also picked up by the New York Post, DNAinfo, amNew York, the Village Voice, NBC4, Ch. 11, WNYC and Curbed.

Bronx Students Learn Elevator, Escalator Safety
November 14, 2011

The Department's Elevators Unit kicked-off the agency's 8th annual National Elevator Escalator Safety Week by teaching a class on elevator and escalator safety to over 200 students at PS 9 in the Bronx. During the class, students learned tips like remember to tie your shoe laces, don't lean on elevator doors and the Department's safety slogan"Ring, Relax, Wait" which reminds children to stay clam during the event of an emergency and wait for help to arrive.

NYC Official Pledges Crackdown on Illegally Converted Apartments
Daily News
November 10, 2011

On November 10, 2011, Department volunteers distributed flyers at a subway station in Woodside, Queens to educate New Yorkers about the dangers living in illegal apartments can pose. During the month of November, volunteers distributed over 10,000 flyers in 11 different languages at subway stations across the City's five boroughs.


Bloomberg Predicts New Buildings Department Initiative Will Completely Digitize Permits Process
October 12, 2011

NY1 reported that Mayor Bloomberg and Building Commissioner LiMandri have opened a new state-of-the-art review center called the NYC Development Hub to help streamline and accelerate the plan exam review process. At the new development center located in Lower Manhattan, plans are digitally submitted and reviewed by multiple City agencies at once in a virtual environment.

The NYC Development Hub announcement was also picked up by Crain's New York Business, DNAinfo, the Real Deal and WNYC.


City Cracks Down on Illegal Apartments
September 25, 2011

CBS2 reported that the Department has been going undercover posing as potential tenants to find and crackdown on illegally converted apartments advertised on Craigslist and similar website. The Department added the new enforcement tool to its arsenal in the spring of 2010 to help it target illegal apartments and those who create them.

City Taps New Construction-Streamlining Czar
Crain's New York Business
September 1, 2011

Commissioner Robert LiMandri appointed architect Fred S. Mosher, Jr. to the Department's newly created Deputy Commissioner of Building Development position to focus on streamlining the City's construction approval process. In the position, Deputy Commissioner Mosher will oversee the Department's entire plan-exam review and permit issuing processes.

The announcement of Mosher's appointment was also picked up by the Real Deal and Brooklyn Daily Eagle.


Construction Death Plunge
New York Post
August 1, 2011

Construction-related accidents in New York City continued to decline in the first half of 2011, falling to 56 from 94 in the first half of 2010. Injuries also decreased for the same time period from 96 in 2010 to 59 in 2011. The Department of Buildings attributed the continued decline to increased safety awareness.


Winning Scaffold Design Provides Lift Above, Movement Below
July 26, 2011

Commissioner LiMandri unveiled a prototype of the urbanSHED International Design Competition winner, Urban Umbrella, to a group of construction and real estate stakeholders at an art studio in Brooklyn. Designed by Young-Hwan Choi and Andrés Cortés, R.A. and Sarrah Khan, P.E. of the Agencie Group, the sleek new Urban Umbrella design is made almost entirely of recycled materials and opens up and brings light to the sidewalk.

The unveiling of the urbanSHED winning design prototype was also picked up by amNew York and Architects Newspaper.

Beating the Heat
July 21, 2011

One way to beat the City's summer heat is to prepare in advance and coat your home or building's roof white as part of the Department of Buildings' NYC °Cool Roofs Program. The Program encourages building owners to paint their roofs with a white reflective sealant that repeals the sun's rays, reducing the amount of energy needed to cool a building, a building's electric costs as well as the City's carbon footprint. During its inaugural season in 2010, the program helped to coat over 1 million square-feet of rooftop space in the City.


Sign-Up for Free Deck and Porch Inspections
Queens Gazette
July 20, 2011

In June 2011, the Department launched its annual No-Penalty Deck and Porch Inspection Program, encouraging home owners to inspect these structures before using them in the summer and take advantage of the Department's free inspection program by calling 311 if they have any concerns about their structures.

Solar Panels Still Rare, Despite Glow of $7 Power Bills
New York Times
June 11, 2011

In its weekly "Appraisal" column, the New York Times reported that there is a growing trend of solar panel installations throughout New York City. Buildings Commissioner LiMandri discussed the uptick with Times reporter Diane Cardwell.

Coney Island Rides Get Clean Bill of Health
News 12 Brooklyn
June 28, 2011

DOB Inspectors provided a look into how the City monitors amusement park rides and ensures that owners and operators are taking steps to maintain them safely. Inspectors noted that rides are generally safe and parents and children should follow safety precautions to minimize risk.

DOB Molds the Next Generation of Architects and Engineers
Downtown Express
June 22, 2011

A visit to the Department's Manhattan headquarters as part of the Junior Architects and Engineers program was featured in the June 22 issue of Downtown Express. Approximately 30 students toured the facility, met with Senior DOB officials, reviewed building plans for the new high-rise residential tower at 8 Spruce Street and then toured completed parts of the building.


Department of Buildings' Scaffold Safety Team Featured
April 15, 2011

NBC News reporter Andrew Siff joined Buildings Inspector Joseph Cobian for a behind-the-scenes look at ongoing renovations at the Jacob Javits Center. Cobian, who is part of the Department's Scaffold Safety Team, highlighted aspects of the site's elaborate scaffolding equipment and the Department's role in ensuring work is performed safely.


DOB Teaches Kids About Architects & Engineers
March 1, 2011

NY1 reported that Commissioner Robert Limandri and Queens Borough Commissioner Ira Gluckman kicked-off the Department's new educational program for elementary students, Junior Architects and Engineers, by teaching a class to fifth graders at PS 31 on Staten Island about what it means to be an architect or engineer. The new program aims to give elementary students in New York City a better understanding of the construction industry and encourage students to start thinking about careers in the construction field. If you are interested in having the Department visit your school or your child's school, send an email to


Quick Response (QR) Codes to be Added to All NYC Construction Permits
February 22, 2011

Commissioner LiMandri and Deputy Mayor Goldsmith appeared on NY1' "Inside City Hall" program to discuss the City's new Quick Response (QR) Codes program. The piece highlights how the Department is using technology and placing QR codes on all NYC construction permits to allow New Yorkers to scan the codes with their smartphones and gain instant access to information about construction sites and buildings.

The QR Codes announcement, which Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Goldsmith and Commissioner LiMandri unveiled on Tuesday, February 22, 2011, was also picked up by Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, the New York Observer, the Real Deal, WCBS, FOX5, WNYC, and DNAinfo.


The New York Times
January 30, 2011

The New York Times featured a profile of Commissioner LiMandri in the Sunday Real Estate section. The Q&A highlighted important figures from the 2010 Annual Report, along with the Department's accomplishments since his appointment in 2008.

The Real Deal, The Brownstoner and the New York Observer also picked up the story.

Rental Red Flags: 10 Signs You Don't Want That Apartment
January 30, 2011

CBS MoneyWatch.comfeatured Commissioner LiMandri's 10 tips for renters on the homepage, which were issued following the Department's city-wide undercover investigation into illegal conversions in apartments posted on Craigslist.



Cambridge artist's winning design unveiled in New York City
The Boston Globe
December 10, 2010

The Boston Globe covered the unveiling of the second urbancanvas design installation, which went up at the Hunter College School of Social Work on December 10th. The artwork was created by Boston-based designer Jen Magathan. Urbancanvas is beautifying the City by installing public art on temporary protective structures at construction sites.


DOB Officials Share How to Spot an Illegal Apartment.
September 28, 2010

Following an undercover investigation into illegal apartments advertised on Craigslist, the Department issued tips for renters that were featured on NY1's "New York One for You" segment.

City Says Investigation Uncovers Illegal Apartments
New York Times: CityRoom Blog
September 23, 2010

Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner LiMandri announced the results of a 5-month long undercover operation to expose illegal conditions in apartments for rent throughout New York City at a September 23 press conference.

Canvassing for Votes with NYC Construction Fence Finalists
The Architects Newspaper
September 20, 2010

With more than 100 design submissions, the urbancanvas design competition announced eight finalists and encouraged the public to select winning designs to be installed on construction sites across the City.


Great Neck Man Charged with Bribery Attempt
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
August 26, 2010

A tip from a Department of Buildings inspector led to the arrest of a Great Neck businessman for trying to bribe the inspector to overlook electrical violations in a multi-unit residential property in Brooklyn. Since 2003, DOI has arrested 76 individuals in investigations originating from tips from Buildings Department personnel.

Island's Chief Engineer Receives Proclamation from Molinaro
The Staten Island Advance
August 8, 2010

Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro honored Borough Engineer Sai-Yung Wat by declaring "Sai-Yung Wat Day" at a Borough Hall Proclamation ceremony. The proclamation was in recognition of Mr. Wat's individual excellence award at the Department's first-ever Commissioner's Awards for Excellence ceremony in June. The Department also honored six other Staten Island residents at the ceremony: Eyal Amos, Andrew Bruschi, Paul D'Alessio, Gary Grandstaff, Sam Samaan and Gloria Janis.


Queens Families Move to Solar Energy to Power their Homes
NBC News
July 10, 2010

On July 10, 2010 NBC News reporter Andrew Siff joined Buildings Commissioner LiMandri at the home of a Queens family who installed solar panels on their roof after receiving DOB permits and approvals. The solar panels have lowered the family's monthly electric bills to under $10.00 a month and have inspired others in the community to install solar panels to improve energy efficiency in the area.

City Design Competition Seeks to Beautify Construction Sites
July 19, 2010

DNAinfo featured a story on the urbancanvas Design Competition, which will give professional artists the opportunity to create a set of printed art designs for temporary protective structures at construction sites throughout the New York City.


NYC Launches urbancanvas Design Competition
New York Construction
June 24, 2010.

New York Construction News published a story on the urbancanvas Design Competition, a contest that allows professional artists to create designs that will eventually be displayed on temporary protective structures throughout New York City as a way to beautify its streetscapes.

More on urbancanvas:

Department of Buildings Volunteers to Build Habitat Homes in Brooklyn
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
June 24, 2010

On June 24, 2010, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri and 20 Department employees volunteered for Habitat for Humanity-New York City to build homes for 16 families in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Solar Panel Tax Abatements Available

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
June 11, 2010

On June 11, 2010, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri announced that the City is seeking solar panel tax abatement applications from Brooklyn building owners to encourage the use of sustainable technology.

Video Shows Potentially Unsafe Working Conditions at Construction Site
NBC News
June 9, 2010

On June 9, 2010, NBC News reported that Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri highlighted the importance of safety measures at construction sites after viewing a video of a worker on a scaffold without a harness in midtown Manhattan.


City Leaders Launch NYC °Cool Roofs Program
May 11, 2010

NY1 broadcasted LIVE from the launch of the NYC °Cool Roofs program, collaboration between NYC Service and the NYC Buildings Department to coat 1 million square feet of rooftops around the City with a reflective white coating.

More on Cool Roofs:


Construction Safety Week-Watch Your Step
WNYC Radio
April 26, 2010

On April 26, 2010, WNYC Radio reported that the Department of Buildings in partnership with other City agencies hosted several events that educated the community, property owners, and members of the construction industry during the sixth annual Construction Safety Week.

Buildings Department Makes Push for Safety Retaining Walls
Staten Island Advance
April 18, 2010

On April 18, 2010, the Staten Island Advance reported that a Department of Buildings inspector educated residents on how to recognize the signs that a retaining wall is in need of repair. The efforts are part of the Department's initiative to offer penalty free, no charge inspections that will help ensure the proper maintenance of retaining walls.


Developers Jump on Program for Stalled Projects
Crain's New York Business
March 25, 2010

On March 25, 2010, Crain's New York Business reported that the Department of Building's Stalled Sites program, which aims to facilitate work at construction sites that are not being properly maintained because construction has been stalled.

More on Stalled Sites:

  • "DOB: Activate Long Idle Work Sites" The Queen' Gazette, April 28, 2010
  • "Buildings Department Volunteers with Habitat for Humanity" ABC News, June 18, 2010 ABC's 5:00 news broadcast featured a segment on the Buildings Department and Habitat and Humanity Buildings Commissioner LiMandri joined 20 volunteers from DOB to build Habitat for Humanity homes for 16 hard working families in Brooklyn.


City's New 'Umbrella' Sidewalk Scaffold Design Revealed
January 21. 2010
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Department of Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri reveal the winner of the urbanSHED design competition, sponsored by the Department of Buildings, the American Institute of Architects, the Alliance for Downtown New York and several others. The goal of the new designs is to improve the appearance of sidewalk sheds throughout New York City's construction sites.

More on UrbanSHED:

Fed Up with Scaffolding? New Type Unveiled at MetroTech
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
January 21, 2010

On January 21, 2010, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri unveiled a new design for sidewalk sheds as part of the UrbanSHED program, an International design competition launched by the City of New York.

New Seminars for Backyard Bar Owners
New York Post
January 12, 2010

On January 12, 2010, the New York Post reported that the Department of Buildings and the Small Business Administration worked with Community Board 1 to create a seminar that will educate backyard garden owners about rules and regulations pertaining to their outdoor spaces.

City plumber Anthony Thompson risks it all as he heads off for reserves duty as G.I. in Afghanistan
Daily News
January 4, 2010

On January 4, 2010, the Daily News reported that Department plumbing inspector, Anthony Thompson, was profiled in the Daily News for his work helping the military build plumbing systems at U.S. bases and in Afghan villages.

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