Design Professional Requirements: Signs

Applicability of Code and Zoning

The following is a list of key zoning, Code and other regulations that may be relevant to the design of the project; the list does not cover ALL applicable regulations.


The sign display, or sign copy, of a sign project can be filed for review under the current Code, i.e. the 2014 NYC Building Code (BC Appendix H), or under the Prior Codes such as the 1968 Code, 1938 Code or earlier Codes; reference 1968 AC 27-498 through 27-508.  Please note that many of the Prior Codes (Title 26) have been repealed.

The sign structure, could be filed for review under the current Code, i.e. the 2014 NYC Building Code or under the Prior Codes such as the 1968 Code, 1938 Code or earlier Codes, depending on the age of the existing supporting structure or associated building.  For example, the 2014 Building Code must be used for some sidewalk projections/encroachments, roofs, etc., and certain kinds of structural work. Additionally, renovation work must comply with the current NYC Electrical Code, Energy Conservation Code and other applicable local laws; reference 2014 Administrative Code (AC) §28-101.4.3 and Building Code (BC) 1601.2.


Project Element

Applicable Code and Regulations

Current Code*

Prior Codes



Sign Regulations

BC 105.7 and Appendix H

AC §27-498 through §27-508

Encroachments into the Public Right-of-way

2014 BC Chapter 32

Fire Separation and Divisions (Penetrations of Assemblies)

BC Chapter 7

AC §27-339


BC Appendix H

AC §27-232

Roof Signs (FDNY Rooftop Access and Roof Coverings)

FC 504 and BC Chapter 15

AC §27-337

Outdoor Sign Requirements

BC Appendix H

AC §27-498 through §27-508

Sign Structures

BC Chapter 16

AC §27-500 through §27-506

Exterior Walls

BC Chapter 14

AC §27-331 through §27-338 (Article 4)

Construction Materials

BC Chapters 19 - 26

Title 27/Subchapter 10

Rooftop Sign Support Structures

BC Chapter 15

AC §27-331 through §27-338 (Article 4)

Soils and Foundation
(For Sign Structures)

BC Chapter 18

Title 27/Subchapter 11

Special and Progress Inspections

2014 BC Chapter 17

NYCECC – Energy Code Compliance

2014 ECC 101.4.3 and 1 RCNY 5000-01

*Note: New applications for buildings erected under the 2008 Code must comply with the 2014 Code, as required by AC §28-101.4 & 102.4.3.*


Rules of the City of New York — Title 1/Chapter 49
Chapter 49 of Title 1 of the Rules of the City of New York establishes criteria for regulating outdoor signs under the Zoning Resolution of the City of New York. 

  • The rule focuses on advertising signs, the requirements for registration of Outdoor Advertising Companies (OAC), enforcement and penalty procedures for failure to comply, as well as sign application requirements.
  • The rule requires statements indicating location in relation to public parks and arterial highways, as well as the type of sign proposed: advertising, accessory to a business, or non-commercial.
  • For signs that are indicated as accessory signs, documentation is to be submitted to verify that the proposed sign advertises the business operating on the same zoning lot which the sign is erected on. This shall include statements signed by the property owner indicating the parties of ownership, lease or creditor interest in the sign and sign structure.

To the extent a sign is a non-conforming sign, it must further be identified as non-conforming advertising or non-conforming non-advertising. A sign identified as “non-conforming advertising” or “non-conforming non-advertising” shall be submitted to the Department for confirmation of its non-conforming status.

Other Regulation(s) for Reference
TPPN #5/00 For the use of flexible fabric sign structures

When required by the project scope of work, the renovation must comply with the rules, regulations, laws and Codes of other City agencies, such as the NYC Fire Department (FDNY) for rooftop access, NYC Transportation (DOT), NYC Landmarks Commission (LPC), NYC Transit (MTA), and others.

Guidelines for Submission of Sign Project Plans

Prior to preparing the design documents and construction drawings, the Registered Design Professional or Licensed Sign Hanger should perform a pre-design review that analyzes all of the existing building elements, systems and other components affected by the proposed scope of work, to verify the sign project will be Code- and zoning-compliant. Based upon the complexity and scale of the project, the information provided on the drawings must clearly demonstrate all of the work required for completion of the project per 2014 AC Article 104 or 2014 BC 107.2.

The Department’s guidelines outlined in the following section provide an organized approach for the preparation of construction documents; this will facilitate the plan review process. Drawings shall clearly indicate existing and proposed conditions and any area affected by the scope of work.

Complete Submission of Construction Documents

Construction documents should represent complete work, including all involved disciplines such as architectural, structural, plumbing, electrical, etc. There must be close coordination between all disciplines to ensure Code compliance; reference AC 28-104.7 and BC 107.2 and 1 RCNY 49-41 for information on submittal of and required construction documents. A complete submission of drawings should include:

Construction Documents.  Drawings necessary to convey essential information such as floor layouts, elevations, schedules and details. The entire scope of work must be clearly outlined on the drawings submitted. The applicable Zoning Resolution (ZR) and Building Codes sections, text or notes should be stated on the drawings as required to demonstrate compliance. A scale should be included on the drawings; a graphic scale is recommended.

  • Title Sheet.  Should clearly describe the project location, including the adjacent streets, properties, zoning district location, all adjacent zoning districts (or a detail of the current and relevant Zoning District map), and include an accompanying a graphical scale. A written statement describing the entire project scope should be included. Notes on building occupancy classification, zoning analysis, structural system and/or separate structural support system, and zoning use group must be provided.
  • Drawing Index. A list that clearly identifies all drawings involved in the project drawing set; include drawing sheet numbers and drawing titles
  • Site/Plot Plan.  A plan indicating the block and lot, zoning lot and exact location and size of the proposed sign and/or sign structure, as well as the location, size and surface area of all other signs on the zoning lot. Include proof that all existing signs were previously issued permits.
  • Roof and Setback Roof Plans.  Show existing and proposed conditions as required; clearly identify sign location(s) on roof. Coordinate signs and structures with all trades/disciplines to ensure that the proposed scope of work is complete and shown on all submitted discipline drawings.
  • Elevations.  Fully-dimensioned drawings showing both the sign and its supporting structure, and/or of sign mounted on building. Also showing sign copy with fully dimensioned lettering, borders, and other images as defined in Sign per ZR 12-10, and showing all existing, removed and proposed window, door, louver, exterior fire escape and other building wall exterior projections and openings. Dimensions must include height from curb to top of the sign structure as well as any projections above the roof.
  • Sections.  Fully-dimensioned drawings required for projects that involve signs mounted on buildings, or for separate ground or roof structures. Also include cross sections of structural support or connections, cross sections of attachments to the building, cross sections of sign projection or other associated sidewalk encroachments to demonstrate compliance with the Building Code and NYC Department of Transportation regulations.
  • Detail Drawings. A detailed description and/or drawing of the proposed sign, including its size and additional information about its mounting to the building or other structure and as outlined in BC Appendix H.
  • NYC Energy Conservation Code (ECC). If the project scope includes one of the following, then demonstrate NYC ECC
    • Penetration of building’s thermal envelope and/or effect on building’s insulation
    • Lighting controls and/or lighting power

If applicable, additional elements required on drawings include:

  • A statement whether the proposed sign is to be advertising, or non-advertising, which is then either accessory to a business, or non-commercial
  • Façade and parapet walls with details, if the sign is mounted to such structural elements
  • Light and air calculations if the required building windows are impacted by a proposed sign
  • For signs located within view and in proximity to Public Parks (ZR 12-10) and Arterial Highways as listed in ZR Appendix H, particular attention should be made to ZR 32-64 through ZR 32-69 and ZR 42-53 through ZR 42-58, as well as the requirements of 1 RCNY 49-41.

Submission of Construction Documents

1. Drawings. The Sign project drawings should reflect a clear scope of work and include all affected systems. Examples of this are as follows:

Designator -
Sheet Number:
Sheet Description:
T-001.00 Title Sheet, Site/Plot Plan, Drawing Index, General Notes, Flood Zone and FEMA Map, required Special/Progress Inspections list, and Legends
SG-001.00 Proposed Roof and Setback Plan (if applicable), Proposed Elevations, and Sign Sections
SG-002.00 Illustration of Sign Copy and Sign Details
A-101.00 Architectural Plans and Details (if applicable)
E-101.00 Electrical Plans and Details (if applicable)
FO-101.00 Proposed Foundation Plans and Details (if applicable)
S-101.00 Structural Plans and Details (if applicable)
EN-101.00 Energy Code Analysis Notes (if applicable)

Drawing Legend to include: Symbols, abbreviations, notes and definitions.

Recommended Drawing Designators
T: Title/Coversheet: Recommended designation for drawing cover page
SG: Sign: Mandatory designation for drawings when work is filed separately for a sign permit
A: Architectural: Mandatory designation for drawings showing architectural work
E: Electrical: Mandatory designation for drawings showing electrical work
FO: Foundation: Mandatory designation for drawings whenever foundation work is filed
S: Structural: Mandatory designation for drawings showing structural work
EN: Energy Analysis: Mandatory designation if an Energy Analysis is required

2. Required Documents. Based on the building or sign location and designation, and the project scope of work, the following submissions may have to accompany the drawings at intake:

  • To substantiate non-conforming use, documentation to support legal establishment and continuous use is required
  • Where an accessory sign project is within view and in proximity to an Arterial or park of ½ acre or more, documents required pursuant to RCNY 49-41
  • OER authorization – Coordination with ZR little erequirements
  • FDNY – Rooftop access coordination, reference FC 504
  • Tenant/Occupant Protection Plan, only if applicable
  • Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) approval
  • NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) approval
  • NYC Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) approval
  • NYC Public Design Commission (PDC) approval

3. Post Approval Amendments.  Any changes to approved scope of work that are significant and substantive will require submission of revised documents and/or plans as a post-approval amendment (PAA).  Approval of an amendment must be obtained before the work is completed. Changes that are not substantive do not require a PAA; however these changes must be shown on plans and included in the ‘As Built’ submission at the end of the project (§28-104.3).

Substantive changes that meet the following criteria should be submitted for review as a PAA to amend the approved plans:

  • Expand scope of work to include additional modifications to the sign copy (message), surface area as defined in ZR 12-10), illumination, and/or its supporting structure, including changes to how such supporting structure is attached to a building or structure
  • A modification to the sign mounting height, projection, orientation, and/or location
  • Changes to the scope of work that require additional Special or Progress Inspection(s)
  • Changes to the type of sign being installed. For example, changing of a non-illuminated sign to an illuminated sign, or non-advertising to advertising, or any change to the type of sign illumination

4. As-Built Submission. All changes must be submitted in an ‘as-built’ drawing at the end of the project.

Special Inspections

As per Chapter 17 of the Building Code, sign projects may require certain Special and Progress Inspections to be performed during and at the end of construction as outlined in the table below.  Prior to approval, the Applicant of Record is required to identify all required Special and Progress Inspections (BC 1704.1).  Prior to DOB permit issuance, the Owner must typically engage a registered Special Inspection Agency (SIA) who will take responsibility for the Special and Progress Inspections. The Applicant of Record may perform these inspections if they are also an SIA.

Based on the scope of work, a sign project may be required to comply with the following Special and Progress Inspection requirements:

Structural Steel

May include steel welding, High Strength Bolting and Steel Details (BC 1704.3).

Concrete – Cast-In-Place

Required where the total concrete placement on a given project is more than 50 cubic yards or other conditions (BC 1704.4).

Wall Panels, Curtain Walls and Veneers

Required for exterior architectural wall panels and the anchoring of veneers designed for installation on buildings above a height of 40 feet. Special Inspection of masonry veneer on such structures shall be in accordance with Section 1704.5 (BC 1704.10).

Sprayed fire-resistant materials

Special Inspections  for  sprayed fire-resistant materials applied to roof and wall assemblies, and to structural members, shall be in accordance with Sections 1704.11.1 through 1704.11.7.

Structural Stability – Existing Buildings

Any modification of existing structural systems or elements, such as columns, girders, beams, bearing walls, etc. where the stability or integrity of the structural system is impacted, in accordance with Sections 1704.20.6 through 1704.20.10.

Excavations – Sheeting, Shoring and Bracing

Methods employed to protect the sides of excavations shall be subject to Special Inspections in accordance with Sections 1704.20.6 through 1704.20.10.

Fire-resistant-rated construction and joists, and associated penetrations

Special Inspections for penetrations of fire-resistant elements and assemblies, and related firestops in accordance with BC Sections 1704.27.1 and 1704.27.2. Progress inspection for fire resistance rated construction per BC 110.3.4.


Load bearing masonry, glass unit masonry and masonry veneer shall be inspected and verified in accordance with the requirements of Sections 1704.5.1 through 1704.5.3, depending on the structural occupancy category of the building or structure.

Footings and Foundation

An inspection after excavations for footings is complete and any required reinforcing steel and required forms are in place per BC 110.3.1.

Subgrade Conditions

Existing subsurface conditions such as soil, compaction, borings, test pits, etc. in order to better evaluate the supporting structure’s footing and foundation needs as per BC 1704.7.

Post Installed Anchors

Installation of post-installed mechanical anchors, adhesive anchors, and screw anchors shall comply with BC Table 1704.32, BC section 1704.32 and Buildings Bulletin (BB) 2014-018 and BB 2014-019.

Fire-Resistance Rated Construction

Fire-resistance-rated partitions, walls, floors, ceilings, shafts, and shutters as per BC 110.3.4.

Final Inspection

A final inspection is required prior to the issuance of a letter of completion, per AC 28- and BC 110.5.

Energy Code Compliance Inspections

  • Penetrations through thermal envelope: must be sealed to minimize air leakage, and prevent thermal bridging, as per NYCECC R402.4.1.2 and C402.5.
  • Exterior lighting power: density must be within allowances per NYCECC C405.5 or be equipped with a control device.

Project Sign-off and Completion Requirements

Once the project is completed, the Owner or the Owner’s authorized representative must ensure that the following are done prior to project sign-off:  completed reports for all the required Special Inspections are submitted by Special Inspection Agencies; all required DOB inspections are performed; and if required, a DOB Final Inspection is performed.

Upon project completion, sign projects may obtain a Letter of Completion. Based on the scope of work, a project may be signed-off and closed-out as indicated below:

Signs: Advertising and Non-advertising, Illuminated and Non-illuminated

  • This project may have multiple work permits (sign copy, structure, electrical) – must obtain a sign-off for each permit for the completed work.
  • Submit all required Special & Progress Inspection reports from SIAs; all reports to be signed off by SIAs
  • Obtain DOB Electrical Inspection in field or at shop in order to receive Electrical Tag from the Department
  • After completion of work for the entire project, a Final Inspection may be performed by the Applicant of Record or his/her SIA designee, or performed by the DOB Construction Inspection Unit
  • The DOB Inspection Units may raise objections for the contractor to resolve
  • If the completed project has changes, the Applicant of Record must submit As Built Drawings prior to project sign-off.
  • Following the successful completion of the Final Inspection by the Department, including the resolution of objections raised by the DOB-Inspection Units and submittal of As Built Drawings, a Letter of Completion shall be issued by the Department.

Design Professional Links

Helpful Links