Tag Archives: building code

Converting Basements Legally in New York City

In a city where space goes for a premium, people are willing to live just about anywhere—even underground. According to the New York Times, as of 2002, there were about 45,000 basement units housing 110,000 people—an estimate the Times admitted was probably conservative.  More Info

What Counts as a Story?

According to New York City’s Building Code, a story is the portion of a building between the “upper surface” of one floor all the way up to the upper surface of the floor above it (or, for the top story, from the upper surface of the floor to the top of ceiling joists or roof rafters).

That being said, it’s not always so simple figuring out what counts as a story and what doesn’t. More Info

Temporary Walls

New York City apartments’ rents have skyrocketed over the past few decades—a staggering 75% in the past 15 years.  Unless you’re a Wall Street banker, you’re going to need to get creative if you want to live in the Big Apple and afford the rent.  Many people who choose to get roommates to split the rent aren’t keen about sacrificing their privacy, though, and ask about creating extra rooms with temporary walls.  Here’s what you need to know about creating “new” rooms with temporary walls. More Info

What Rooms Count as Habitable Spaces?

Many renovations involve creating new rooms or altering the dimensions of existing rooms.  In order to be approved by the Department of Buildings, however, rooms must meet certain criteria in order to be labeled “habitable.”  You can’t, for instance, build a 60 square foot room with no windows and call it a bedroom and expect plans to be approved.  The following room types are considered habitable and must follow habitable room guidelines (see here): More Info

Air Rights, Zoning Laws, and the Skyscraper

Despite Manhattan’s incredible population density, much less of the borough’s skyline is dominated by high-rise buildings than one might expect.  Instead, short, stubby, often pre-war buildings sit side-by-side to massive, sleek skyscrapers in a mottled, uneven patchwork throughout the island.   Considering space goes for such a premium in the borough, one might ask why—wouldn’t it make sense to build as upward as possible? More Info

Signs That Your Apartment May Be Illegal

Illegal apartments are extremely common in New York City, especially in the outer boroughs.   Although rents are often a good deal relative to NYC’s sky-high rents elsewhere, illegal apartments frequently have hazardous conditions that violate basic life safety standards set by the Department of Buildings.   More Info