By Madelin Mulé
September 30th, 2021
When performing a restoration project, it is typical to encounter setbacks. It is important to be aware of changes with the Department of Buildings (DOB) requirements, Building Codes, Local Laws and amendments to the Rules of the City of New York. The DOB releases “Service Updates” throughout the year that typically provide a detailed description of the recent change, the effective date, and helpful links to access more information on the change. These changes are generally easy to stay on top of, thereby avoiding any inconveniences while preparing for or executing a project.
When thinking about these code updates, it is easy to gloss over the ways in which they can affect the individual parties involved on a project (i.e. Owners, Contractors, and Architects/Engineers) as well as the project as a whole. In general, these changes may shift responsibilities from one party to the other or add on additional responsibilities that that were not previously required.
As the Architect/Engineer, your scope of work may change to include additional responsibilities bestowed on the Contractor. You may need to develop an amended scope of work to include these responsibilities at the midpoint or towards the end of your design. The Contractor may have to hire an additional sub-contractor or take further action to obtain a permit which will increase the overall cost. The Owner may be required to take further action to receive the DOB’s approval of the project, which may delay the start date. Finally, failure to comply with these new changes may result in a violation and/or penalty fee.
An example of an update that shifted responsibility within a project team is the November 2020 updated titled “New Tenant Protection Plan Requirements and Updated TPP1 and PW2 Forms.” Prior to this change, the Architect/Engineer was responsible for generating the Tennant Protection Plan (TPP). This change shifted the responsibility onto the Contractor who now must retain a registered design professional to prepare the TPP. Subsequently, this would increase the Contractor’s cost to complete the project, as an additional sub-consultant is required. An example of a change that added a new responsibility would be the May 2021 update, that is titled, “Sidewalk Shed Removal and Earthwork Notifications.” This requires the sidewalk shed permit holder (typically the Contractor) to notify the DOB within 2 days of the complete removal of the sidewalk shed. Failure to do so may result in a violation issued to the permit holder.
The first step to avoid missing the Department of Buildings Service Updates is to stay informed. The Department of Buildings posts all updates on the NYC.gov website at the following link: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/buildingstwo/dob/service-updates.page. This page lists out all updates that are released throughout the year with the option to view the updates released in previous years. Be sure to review the brief summary that is listed below each update, in order to determine if one particular update pertains to your project. You can register for the DOB “Buildings News Updates” and receive emails regarding these changes as well.