Ask an Architect: Do I Need a Permit for This?

February 23, 2023

When working on small scale renovations, it is not always clear when a permit is required. Here are some of the most common permit-related inquiries we have seen.

Our kids have finally moved out! We’re planning to move a wall in their bedroom to make ours bigger. Does this need a permit?
Yes. The City of New York requires that a permit be filed when any wall larger than 45 square feet or 50% of a wall, (whichever is greater) is being removed either permanently or temporarily. Consideration should also be taken in regard to the Multiple Dwelling Law and requirements for minimum room sizes, as well as light and air. If any plumbing or electrical fixtures are being relocated as a result, these relocations would require permits in their respective work types. (RCNY 101-14)

Everyone always joked that our powder room is just a closet with a toilet, so we’re planning to expand it into the actual closet to make more room. What permits do I need?
First and foremost, before making any plans, if applicable, verify with your alteration agreements that your building permits expanding “wet areas.” “Wet areas” are defined as locations where water is present and used, such as a kitchen or a bathroom. If two or less plumbing fixtures are being relocated, no plumbing permit is required. (BC §28-105.4.4) Refer to question 1 regarding relocating the wall.

It’s definitely time to upgrade the look of my bathroom. Surprisingly, the toilet, sink, and bathtub are fine, but the floor and wall tiles need to be replaced. Do I need a permit?
As long as the work does not involve cutting away walls or replacing fixtures, no permit is required. (BC §28-105.4.2)

Now that the building next door finished their façade repairs, I am noticing now that it’s about time I replace this old dirty window.  Do I need a permit?

There are many things to consider when replacing a window.  Let’s call these the “four L’s”: landmark, lot line, lintel, and light.

  • If the building is recognized as a landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission or within a historic district, a landmark permit is required on top of any additional permits.
  • If the window is located on the lot line or is fire-rated for any other reason, a DOB permit is required.
  • If the window lintel is being replaced, a permit is required.
  • If the amount of light and air that is required for the space is not affected based on the operable area of the new window, no permit is required. If the size of the window is being increased to add more light or air, a permit is required.

Regardless of whether or not your window work requires a permit, any new window still requires compliance with the 2020 New York City Energy Conservation Code which may have an impact on the type of window being installed.

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