Basement Conversions: What permits do I need?

Basement Conversions in NYC

Converting your basement in New York takes a bit of planning. You cannot simply start renting out your space without making the legal changes required for all basement rental units.

First off, all livable basement spaces need proper emergency escape and rescue openings known as egress requirements. In New York, any habitable space and all sleeping rooms in basements must have a second means of egress with a minimum open area of 5.7 square feet and a minimum height of 24 inches and width of 20 inches. Second egress cannot be more than 44 inches from the floor. This means all windows will be big enough and easily accessible for someone to crawl out of.

If second egress does not exist in the basement you are trying to convert, you are looking at a construction job that will require planning and multiple permits. Other New York City requirements for basement rental spaces include having a toilet, tub and sink as well as it’s own entry and exit.

Your first step in converting your basement to a rental unit, or just to a usable space, is to draw up a plan with an architect and engineer. At S & M we help people with all aspects of drafting, planning and plan approval through the DOB. We can even recommend the right architect for the job.

Once your plan receives approval, your permit expediter can get started on obtaining the right permits for your basement construction project. Plumbing permits, egress permits, and general construction permits are all documents you will need for a basement conversion.

If you happen to own a basement with a rental unit already and you discover it is an illegal basement conversion and the DOB is charging you with a violation, S & M Expediting can also help you with violation removal and reduce your penalty with the DOB.

S & M Expediting to Offer 25% Discount for Hurricane Sandy Construction Filings

The Department of Buildings is waiving all application and permit fees relating to Hurricane Sandy construction—BUT all service professionals are still required to file applications and permits through the DOB like normal.

To help in the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, S & M Expediting is offering a 25% discount to those affected by Sandy and who can provide documented proof of their need.

Contractors, engineers, architects and plumbers registered with the DOB’s Hurricane Sandy Rapid Repairs program—launched this past week—are urged to contact us for more information regarding our Hurricane Sandy permit expediting discounts on permits such as plumbing Emergency Work Notice permits and other filings related to the storm.

DOB Fees Waived for Hurricane Sandy; Filing Still Required

Hurricane Sandy DOB Fees waived in NYC

This past week, Mayor Bloomberg and the Department of Buildings waived all permit and application fees for Hurricane Sandy–related repair work. Specifically, the fee waiver applies to buildings with significant structural damage in need of demolition, altercation, and restoration permits.

Structures requiring electrical and plumbing systems repairs are also included in the fee waiver. The waiver is in effect until further notice. To expedite the repair process even further, the DOB will be assessing properties with red, yellow, and green placards based on severity of damage and access restrictions.

Contractors: Get Registered for Hurricane Sandy Rapid Repairs Program

NYC Contractors can Register Here

If you are a New York State licensed and insured contractor and you want to register to partner with the city on their Hurricane Sandy Rapid Repairs program follow this link.

Once you are registered, you’ll be entered into the Rapid Repair system as a contractor available to perform assessments and repairs on red, green and yellow placard properties; or properties affected by Sandy without any placards whose owners have also registered for the program.

According to Bloomberg’s announcement, “contractors will be given responsibility   for an area hard hit by Sandy.” This approach will allow for streamlined FEMA payments to contractors, sub-contractors, carpenters, plumbers, etc.

Homeowners can apply at one of the city’s restoration centers, which can be found at or by calling 311. A FEMA ID is required for the program, and those are available at

Do I Need a Permit for Signs in New York?

Permit for Signs in NYC

We get a lot of phone calls about how to properly follow sign regulations in New York City. Many businesses aren’t sure what to do when they are in the market for a new sign in the city and with the hodgepodge of different types of signage through New York City and it’s many neighborhoods it can seem like there are no rules at all.

But, of course, there are some regulations set by New York’s Department of Buildings (DOB) that you need to be aware of when upgrading current signage, starting a new business in NYC, or if you are interested in offering space to advertisers.

There are two types of signs: business signs and advertising signs. Business signs identify your business while advertising signs promote goods and services elsewhere and are only permitted in certain zoning districts. All advertising signs must comply with the Zoning Resolution of your district and failure to do so can result in hefty penalties that start at $5000 per violation.

The DOB must approve storefront signs greater than six square feet in total area, while most sign design plans must be prepared by a state licensed architect or engineer and a sign permit must be issued.

S & M Expediting helps businesses of all sizes meet the many aspects of signage regulations (height, size, illumination, etc.) required by each district’s zoning resolutions by providing access to architects and engineers and applying for all permits on your behalf.