Navigating Certificates of Occupancy, Temporary Certificates and Letters of No Objection

Building and renovating in New York is no piece of cake as you probably already know. There’s a lot more to the whole process than just applying for a permit. In order to perform any construction that will change the use of a building you’ll first need one of the following three documents from your borough’s DOB: a Certificate of Occupancy, a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy or a Letter of No Objection.


If you are working on a project that involves changing a structure’s use, occupancy, or egress (means of exit), you must obtain a Certificate of Occupancy. This will be on record at the DOB for all buildings built after 1938 and for some built before. For example, builders need a certificate of occupancy if they plan to convert an industrial building to a residential building, or a 2-family unit to a 3-family unit. The basic purpose of these certificates is to state what the structure will be used for and prove that the structure is suitable for everyday use.


If the structure you are working with is mostly converted to its new use, occupancy, or exit design, but there is minor construction still going on, you can apply for a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO). TCOs last for 90 days and can be renewed. Builders and homeonwers should be careful though, TCOs are renewable, but not forever. Some borough DOBs will only renew for a set number of times before they let a TCO expire. Once a TCO expires it is very hard to obtain a new one.

If you are purchasing a property, it is strongly advised that you do not buy while the structure is under a TCO. If a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy expires, it’s also almost impossible to get things like mortgages refinanced and insurance. Make sure your seller does all that’s needed to get a permanent Certificate of Occupancy before you buy.

In New York, if you are working on a property built BEFORE 1938, and there is no Certificate of Occupancy on record for the building you’ll need to apply for a Letter of No Objection instead. A Letter of No Objection basically states that the DOB has no objection to you changing the use, occupancy, or egress of a building. Once you have this letter and your construction is complete, then you can apply for a Certificate of Occupancy and the Letter of Objection becomes null and void.


Agencies like the liquor authority and consumer affairs, and some banks usually require Letters of No Objection on older properties.

You can research construction records yourself online with the DOB’s Building Information Services, or you can use a permit expediting service like S & M to do the legwork for you. Builders, Engineers and Contractors might be more interested in hiring a permit expeditor but homeowners can also save themselves a lot of time and trouble by using an expediter.

Need help applying for COs, TCOs, and Letters of No Objection? Call us today at 718-833-2333.

New York’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan and What it Means for Building Permits

Buildings in New York account for 75 percent of NYC’s carbon emissions. To respond to this huge carbon footprint Michael Bloomberg’s administration launched the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan in 2009. These new laws are the most ambitious set of energy efficient codes in the nation and will touch all parts of the construction industry in New York.

While great for the environment, this plan might not be so great for architects and engineers navigating the new maze of complex codes and years worth of updates that address everything from cranes to smoking rules on the job site.

These new laws mandate that energy code now must apply to ALL construction projects. Part of the new code requires all builders to provide annual energy efficiency benchmarks to the DOB that will be made available to the public.


This means a lot of new paper work and environmentally friendly permit applications for you, the architect and engineer. And you probably know what we’re talking about since 2011 Benchmarking stats were due just a few months ago in December.


If you found yourself overwhelmed last year with the added planning and paper pushing due to the Greener Greater Buildings Plan, you should consider working with an expeditor like S & M Expediting. Our experts offer guidance and advice on how to comply to with green building standards that include things like converting boilers to No 2 oil and obtaining plan approval for solar system installation in New York City.

If you’d like to learn more, call us today at 718-833-2333.

Service Changes at the Department of Buildings for 2012

New York’s Department of Buildings (DOB) has issued some new service changes. Keep reading for details. If you have any questions about the changes, call us at 718-833-2333 and we’ll guide you though them step-by-step.

  • Design standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) have recently been updated. Beginning March 15, 2012, new buildings and major alterations may be required to meet these new minimum requirements. Click here for complete details.
  • Beginning February 14, 2012, applicants or property owners must submit a new L2 form when requesting an override, reduction or waiver of civil penalties for Work Without a Permit or Stop Work Order violation. See the L2 instructions for more on the new form and submission requirements. Click here for complete details.
  • Permits to work after hours – After-hours Variances (AHV) — are required to perform crane and derrick work and general construction between 6pm and 7am on weekdays or any time on weekends. Click here for more details.