Wondering what to do with that unfinished basement? Convert it!

If you have an unfinished basement in your one- or two- family home, you may be wondering what you could do with the available space. Perhaps a basement conversion / renovation has crossed your mind, but how would you even get started? As with any other project that require compliance with the  department of buildings , S&M Expediting can guide you through it. If you’re on the fence about basement conversion, below is an overview of the process to turn your basement into a compliant, occupiable space.

The first step to basement conversion to make sure your basement qualifies as a basement under NYC building codes. Although basements and cellars are interchangeable terms for many people, for the DOB, they are not. Basements are considered by the Department of Buildings as a floor with more than half of its height above curb level.  If you have a basement, you can file to convert the space to a habitable unit.  Floors with less than half of its height above curb level are considered cellars, and in most cases cannot be converted. With pre-approval from the DOB, a secondary kitchen may be located in the cellar, however, use of a cellar for sleeping, eating, or general occupancy is illegal.

After confirming that you have what the Department of Buildings considers a basement, you can address the requirements set by the DOB and the Housing Maintenance Code to convert it. Some of those requirements are that the basement has access to running water, appropriate heating, and meet the minimum room size. The basement unit must also have its own entry and exit, be water- and damp-proofed, be able to accommodate a toilet, tub, and sink, and every room must have at least one window.

When the conditions set by the DOB are met, and you get their approval, your basement can now be legally occupied/rented. Occupancy is legal within a one- or two-family dwelling only by members of the family or families that currently occupy the dwelling. In a one-family dwelling, the basement can be rented if it complies with the DOB’s requirements.

Now, it gets a litter trickier when you start with a two-family dwelling. If you are converting the basement of a two-family dwelling for the purpose of renting it out, you would be changing the status of the building from a private dwelling to a multiple (three-family or more) dwelling. To do that, you would need to ensure the entire building is in compliance with the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law. Once compliant in that aspect, renting out the basement of an originally two-family dwelling is legal.

If you’ve decided that you want to go through with basement conversion, trust in S&M Expediting to see your project through from start to finish. They can help you draw up plans with an architect, and navigate through the permit process, from obtaining your Certificate of Occupancy to filing for all other related construction permits. Most importantly, they will help you do it correctly. Call S&M Expediting to start your basement conversion today.

Construction Permits for Your House or Apartment

When Do You Need a Construction Permit for Your Apartment or House?

You need a construction permit when you construct, alter or change the use of the building or structure of the building. There are a lot of different types of permits that encompass construction, boiler, elevator and plumbing. To learn more about what type of permit you need continue reading below.

General Process of Obtaining a Permit

-Hire a licensed professional to file plans for building/construction changes and applications with the building department. A Licensed Professional can be either a Registered Architect or a Professional Engineer according to the City of New York.

-Once the plans have been filed with the Licensed Professional, a contractor may be hired and they must apply for a work permit.

-Once the contractor completes work you must arrange for one of two things. Either arrange to have the required Department inspections or complete trade self-certification.

-Once this process is complete the Department will let you know whether you need a New or an Amended Certificate of Occupancy.

While this process can seem relatively quick and easy it makes sense to have help when putting all of your ducks in order. What do you need first and what do you need from your licensed professional in order to begin work? The plans and permits must be filed prior to work beginning on the construction site. Consider enlisting the help of S&M Expediting when organizing all of your paperwork and plans for the filings.

What Type of Permit Do I Need?

There are a lot of different types of permits that encompass construction, boiler, elevator and plumbing. Of those types of permits the primary permit applications are: New Building, the construction of new structures, (NB) and Alterations Type-1, 2 and 3. The Alterations permits vary in the following way:

Alteration Type 1 (ALT1): is a major alteration that will change the use, egress or occupancy of the structure.

Alteration Type 2 (ALT2): includes multiple types of work that does not affect the use, egress or occupancy of the building structure.

Alteration Type 3 (ALT3): One specific type of minor work that does not affect the use, egress or occupancy of the building structure.

Are there instances when I will not need a permit?

There are some construction-related projects that are considered minor work and do not require a permit. However, there are some catches to the process when a permit is not required. For example, when you are installing kitchen cabinets into your home that does not necessarily require a permit, but the contractor completing the work must have a specific license in order to bypass the permit application.

How long does approval take?

The amount of time it takes to approve a plan directly relates to the number of objections a project reviewer might see in the plans and how easy it may be to resolve those objections.

Contact S&M Expediting for more information about whether your project requires a permit or not. They can also explain more about the different licenses that may come in handy to help you along with your permit process and how long you as a homeowner can expect the permit process to take.

When it comes to energy conservation, NYC shows the nation how it’s done


Energy conservation awareness is one of the most important concepts in every aspect of modern living.  When it comes to major cities and construction, so-called “green” issues aren’t at the fringe – they’re right at center stage.

Energy efficiency isn’t just a nice idea that makes you feel good.  It’s a core business principal.  Energy efficiency saves huge costs in the long run, as well as protecting the environment, and buyers are looking carefully at energy costs before they commit.  They know that the cost of energy only goes up and up.

Savvy developers embrace new requirements, because they know that the market demands it.

New buildings in New York City – both commercial and residential – and renovations will soon be among the most energy-efficient in the nation, thanks to new energy conservation codes that went into effect on October 3rd.

These new codes, the most stringent in the country, enact energy-efficiency standards aimed at reducing all city emissions 80% by 2050.

The improvements to the New York City Energy Conservation Code (NYCECC) mean that right now, new commercial buildings will be almost 9% more efficient, and residential building will be up to 32% more efficient – impressive!

New York City is leading the nation in energy efficiency.  With the revised codes in place, NYC will join the exclusive club of only six states in the country that meet the most up-to-date federally certified commercial and residential energy requirements.

Since 1980, energy code improvements have resulted in a dramatic drop in energy usage, and this revised code continues the trend.

A major part of the new codes is concentrated on what’s called the “building envelope” – basically, insulation.  Proper insulation creates a well-sealed building, keeping indoor air at a comfortable temperature no matter what it’s like outside.  By requiring better insulation and testing for an air-tight environment, the costs of heating or cooling plummet.  Also, new regulations require the same degree of insulation when it comes to air conditioning and heating units that cut through walls and often are overlooked sources of energy loss.

Another aspect of the code requires more energy-efficient lighting.  Luckily, lighting technology improvements offer options that generate more light using less energy.

New low-rise residential buildings will need to be solar-ready, so they can easily accommodate rooftop solar panels – a big perk for buyers.

These changes in energy-efficiency codes will translate directly into big savings for both builders and owners.  Not to mention the reduction in carbon pollution and wasted energy.

Of course, code improvements present challenges as well as opportunities.  The timeframe from adoption to enforcement means that building industry professionals will need to bring their best game.

Luckily, there are resources to help.  Urban Green’s Conquer the Code and the new GPRO Homes can help architects, engineers, builders and other professionals get familiar with latest requirements.  These tools can provide the detailed information necessary to design higher-performing, code-compliant buildings.  Industry trade organizations will also be providing training and education to help builders comply.

How much benefit to the environment will result from these new requirements?  Looking only at new construction, not renovations, over the next three years, the estimated carbon savings translates to about 70,000 metric tons.  That’s equal to removing approximately 15,000 vehicles from NYC roads!

When designing the new codes, a great deal of attention was paid to the real estate’s industry need for codes that don’t impose undue hardships in cost.  Using data to concretely prove the cost-effectiveness of these provisions, the new codes result in greatest possible energy efficiency while still being affordable and achievable.

Can you do well by doing good?  In NYC, that’s the aim.

New York City’s DOB NOW

DOB NOW formerly known as Inspection Ready has been around since last December. At S&M Expediting we understand that it can be difficult to navigate the system and we are here to help you with your inspections and any permits assistance you may need. To get started we have provided a little information about DOB NOW. Please give us a call if you would like help with construction regulations.

Getting anything done in New York City is a hassle and a half – especially if you work in construction. Whether you’re a billionaire real estate developer or just a local firm trying to compete, it’s frustrating to try to navigate the labyrinth of inspections, permits and assorted regulations required. Actually building a new high-rise can seem easier than dealing with all the paperwork involved.

The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) feels your pain – or at least, the people who work there do – and have been working behind the scenes to improve and simplify the inspection and permit process.

DOB NOW – the online portal for all your construction regulations needs. DOB NOW makes it easy to submit applications, make payments, set up appointments for inspections, check the status of applications or inspections, pull permits and make renewals. All online, in one place.

DOB NOW – the easier way to conduct construction business in the digital age – is rolling out gradually throughout the next year. DOB NOW will have four separate but integrated sections:

  • DOB NOW: Inspections
    This is the new version of Inspection Ready.
  • DOB NOW: Build
    For job filings, permits, and Letters of Completion for the following:

    • Plumbing, Sprinkler and Standpipe filings (FAQ and Resources)
    • Sidewalk Shed, Supported Scaffold, Fence and Sign filings (FAQ and Resources)
    • Place of Assembly and Temporary Place of Assembly filings (FAQ and Resources)
  • DOB NOW: Safety
    For compliance filings – Facade, Boiler, and Elevator
  • DOB NOW: Licensing
    For exam filing, issuance and renewals for Gas Work Qualifications, Journeyman Registrations and Welder Licenses

DOB NOW: Inspections is fully operational DOB NOW: Build has limited availability!*

With DOB NOW: Inspections and DOB NOW: Build ready to serve you, you should find the process of getting through all the inspections and permits to be much easier than ever before. *DOB NOW: Build is only available for electrical and plumbing at writing.

DOB NOW: Inspections is a dedicated portal for all online scheduling and tracking. Schedule all your inspection appointments, and track inspections and notifications. Even the inspections themselves will be improved, since this new service standardizes inspector’s electronic checklists. That means faster and more efficient inspections. You can even certify certain objections electronically, avoiding the need for costly re-inspections.

You will need to register for an account before you can request inspections. All licensed professionals and owners must use DOB NOW: Inspections to request development inspections in the following areas:

  • Electrical
  • Signs
  • Fire Suppression
  • Boilers
  • Construction
  • Cranes & Derricks
  • Elevators
  • BPP
  • Oil Burning Equipment
  • Sustainability
  • Plumbing
  • High Rise Initiative

Inspection requests are no longer be accepted in person, by phone or by the Department’s old online request portals on the website. All requests must be made in DOB NOW: Inspections.

To register for DOB NOW: Inspections

It’s quick and easy to register! Just go the DOB NOW: Inspections website, click on the link to register, and click on “New Users: Register for an Account.” That’s it! (By the way, owners must use the email address that is listed in Section 26 of their PW1 filings to register for DOB NOW: Inspections.)

Need help? We’ve got you covered!

The staff at S&M expediting can answer your DOB NOW questions. Just call or email your questions.

What Is A Letter of No Objection and When Is One Required?

Letter of No Objection in NYC

In the City of New York, in order for a building to be legally occupied the building must first have a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). The CO must state a building’s legal use and type of permitted occupancy. New buildings must have a CO.   Older, pre-existing buildings may not have a CO if built prior to 1938. Those older building may file for a Letter of No Objection or Verification letter which is issued by the Dept. Of buildings to establish legal use of the building or a particular space in the building.

Why would i need an LNO?

If you are selling a property that pre-dates the CO requirement, the potential buyer will ask for one as proof of current use.  If you are opening a business in a building without a CO, and your business requires a license from another government agency, you will have to file for an LNO.

A Letter of No Objection (LNO)

An LNO is fairly easy to obtain and on average takes approximately 3-4 weeks. A LNO can be issued if the proposed and actual use of the space/building in question are the same use group and occupancy group as dictated by the city zoning regulations and building code.  If either the use or occupancy group changes, a new certificate of occupancy must be applied for.

The types of agencies interested in Letters of No Objections are the liquor authority, banks and consumer affairs. The liquor board requires proof of use as an eating and drinking establishment in a building prior to awarding a license.

What is required to acquire a LNO? Some requirements to receive an LNO include but are not limited to the following:

Buildings with a Certificate of Occupancy

  1. Copy of most recent CO
  2. Copy of Property Profile and list of Job filings (proof of work)

Buildings without a Certificate of Occupancy

  1. Copy of Property Profile and list of Job filings
  2. Block & Lot Folder Plans

Buildings with Child Related Special Occupancy

  1. Copy of most recent CO
  2. Copy of Property Profile and list of Job filings
  3. Block & Lot Folder Plans
  4. Hours/Dates of Operation, number of children (over and under age of 2)
  5. Layout Drawing with exits, accessory locations, etc.

Need help applying for Certificates of Occupancy (COs), TCOs, and Letters of No Objection (C of O Waiver)? Call us today at 718-833-2333.