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This forum contains 176 topics and 808 replies, and was last updated by Jim Hill, RA, LEED AP Jim Hill, RA, LEED AP 1 week, 6 days ago.

Brownstoner July 31, 2013 at 10:53 am

We've Updated Our Spam Protection

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*One is a plugin that should filter out most of the attempts by spammers to register in the first place.

*Two, Forum users now have the ability to mark spam when they see it. If enough users mark a post as spam, it will automatically disappear.

Very sorry for all the spam lately. We hope this puts a lid on it.

Building Code August 7, 2014 at 2:41 pm

What can you do with M2-1 zoning?

We are looking at a property currently built as a single family building on an M2-1 zoned area, 25×100 lot. It’s currently built pretty small and not in good shape.

We’d want to probably knock it down and build bigger- what can we potentially do with this size lot in this type of zoning? How many square feet can we build?

Building Code July 22, 2014 at 1:40 pm

AC nightmare next door

The owners of the brownstone next to ours that is split into 8 small rentals, plan to install 8 independent AC units in their backyard. We will likely have to endure loud noise and excessive heat while the units operate.
Does anyone know if it is code compliant to install these units on a 20′-wide backyard, less than 10′ from the property line?
Has anyone experienced this problem and if so, how can we and our neighbors fight it?

Building Code July 19, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Is this a legal apartment????

I live in a brownstone in Brooklyn.

The set up is that there are 3 units on the top to floor of a 2 family building. (DOB classification is B3-2 family dwelling.) Each floor has one bathroom in the hallway that is shared by tenants on each floor (The bathroom has no sink.)The building has two open boiler violations and is NOT designated (or restricted) as an SRO.

There is no Certificate of Occupancy on the building. As previously mentioned, it’s classified as. B3-2 family dwelling on the DOB website. On the HPD website, it is designated as having 9 “B” units (as opposed to “a”)

Am I renting a legal apartment? If not, how do I get out of my lease??

Building Code July 15, 2014 at 11:56 am

New Home: Legally registered as 3-family but I'm using as single family

Hi there,

I purchased my new home which is registered as a 3-family but no official C of O on record. I have no intentions of using it as a 3-family. I will be doing extensive renovations but not just yet (will be several months before I start). I just received a permit notice for my oil tank (which, I will be replacing some day to natural gas) from the fire department stating that it is valid until the end of the year. My questions are:
1) Do I need to continue to renew this permit given I’m occupying as “single family”? 2) If I don’t, will I get a violation on record?
3) Does it make sense to register my home as a single family now or when I start my renovations? My understanding is that it is more cost effective if I make the change when I renovate.

Any insights will be greatly appreciated!


Building Code July 8, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Brooklyn Townhouse C of O

Husband and I want to put an offer in for a townhouse in Bed Stuy but we’re a bit confused and our lawyer is traveling this week so hoping someone has some advice for us.

The broker listing says the property is a legal two family but it’s currently used as a single family. The DOB classification is B3-Two Family but the disclaimer is that that’s the tax classification, may not be the legal use. When the current owners purchased it in 2004, they did extensive renovations to the interior. I don’t know if they added in bathrooms or kitchens or if they just gutted parts of it and replaced the finishes, flooring etc. I believe it was an SRO back then and a mess but I honestly don’t know.

We can’t find permits for any work done since they owned the house and there is currently no C of O for the property causing us to assume the work they did wasn’t legal, there wasn’t an inspection done at the end and therefore no C of O was issued. Am I right to assume this or am I missing something here?

We’re considering purchasing the property to rent out the upstairs unit and use the parlor floor and garden level as an owners duplex and in the future maybe make changes that will require permits. We don’t want to have to pay or deal with the current owner’s mistakes down the line.

Building Code June 13, 2014 at 2:04 pm

Another no C of O post

Hello! I’m in contract to purchase a Victorian house in Queens. It has no C of O as it was built in approx 1905, title search did not turn up a CO, DOB has no CO on file. The house is designated as a 1-family house (A1) by the tax department. I would like to convert it to a 2-family house. There was a kitchen on the 2nd floor and when I went to DOB I found alteration paperwork from 1936 that states this house is a 2-family house. Do I have enough grounds for filing a Letter of No Objection? It seems to me that LNO would be a more time-efficient route to start using the house as a 2-faily. Will I be able to legally rent the 2nd floor without obtaining a new C of O? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

Building Code May 11, 2014 at 10:24 pm

is a permit required for a roof replacement?

Hi All,

First time poster here. is anyone familiar with the codes to confirm whether or not you need a permit to do a tear down of the roof asphalt and put a new layer? I did some research myself and it seems like a permit is not required for a simple strip and replace repair as long as the wooden structure underneath is not modified.

Building Code May 5, 2014 at 7:40 pm

Minimum kitchen

Hi all. Newbie here. I wish I knew about this board months ago. Long story short: I have a legal two family home. One kitchen. Filing with DOB I have two choices. File as a one family, approval I am told could take months as the Brooklyn DOB is very slow. Or two install a kitchen on the top flooring get the permit to finish work this week. I chose to install the kitchen. I want a minimal kitchen just to pass inspection, likely as self certify by the architect? What is the bare minimum?

Building Code May 1, 2014 at 7:45 am

Internal Fire Exit

Hi everyone,

On the top floor of our 3-story brownstone, we have a “fire exit” through a glass “escape window” on the roof. It is located in a chase at the top of the stairs from the parlor floor to the top floor – the traditional set up.

I need to get a new ladder because the existing ladder is too short for my liking. Does anyone know if there are any required specs (height and weight bearing capacity, installation requirements, etc.) and where such a ladder can be purchased?

I found a couple of seemingly decent extension ladders at Home Depot that could be set up permanently there – for example: 8.5′ ladder (carries 225 lbs), a 10.5′ ladder (carries 225 lbs) and a 12.5′ ladder (carries 300 lbs). Is there any chance that these could work?

Many thanks, in advance, for your support!

Building Code March 29, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Confused: Cellar or Basement?

My husband inherited this low-stoop townhouse in Brooklyn from his grandfather few years ago. Recently We’ve been thinking about renovating what we call the “garden level” apartment. However, our architect told us since this is a pre-1938 building, there’s no C of O for it, except an I-card which can be used as substitute. But according to this I-card which was issued in 1911, the garden apartment is labeled as “cellar” and what we call “cellar” a “subcellar”. The space in question has a big window above grade on the front and fully to the grade on the back with full size windows and doors to the backyard.

I know you need to have at least 50% of the space height above curb level in order to qualify as a basement. But in our case, although it seems the space is more below than above, we feel it might be a borderline basement because the front walkway is so pitched. My questions are:

1-How accurate are those old I-card assessment on this space? If it says “cellar”, should I even bother to hire a land surveyor to find out the exact elevation?

2-Should we apply for a C of O from DOB or this I-card is sufficient?

3-If it IS a cellar, does that mean the kitchen and bathroom his grandfather added to this space for convenience after he got sick and handicapped in the 80′s all illegal and need to be removed? (obviously no permits filed in those days). BTW, this cellar IS categorized as “living space” according to the I-card. Ceiling height is 7′.

Thank you for your advise.

Building Code March 19, 2014 at 11:45 am

city chaning the c of o for no apparent reason?

we are closing on a 2 family in bushwick and the attorneys told us that the seller received a notice from the city that the building classification will be changing to a commercial property in july.
the seller said that this will actually save us $ on taxes but it sounds strange and neither attorney has encountered this before and they are unable to answer our questions as to how what, why etc….?
has anyone ever come across this before?

Building Code March 4, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Do I need a second exit on the ground floor of a duplex?

We occupy the duplex of our 3 family brownstone (ground & parlor floor). Parlor floor has front door exit to street and back door exit to backyard. Currently ground floor also has two ways in and out, same as parlor. We’re thinking about eliminating the back door on the ground floor to accommodate a a new bathroom which means our duplex will now have three different ways in and out. Is there anything illegal about getting rid of the backyard exit on the ground floor?

Building Code February 28, 2014 at 9:58 am

Common Hallway When Combining Two Units in a Brownstone

We live in a four unit brownstone. Unit 1 is a ground floor + basement duplex. Unit 2 is a parlor floor + second floor duplex. Unit 3 is the third floor. Unit 4 is the fourth floor.

If unit 3 and 4 were combined into one apartment, would the renovation be allowed to take over and enclose the common hallway on the third floor and the common staircase up to the fourth floor? Unit 1 has no access to the main part of the building. Unit 2 has their own exist out the back into the garden.

Where can I research building codes to find out if incorporating the common hall and stairs would be permitted?

Building Code February 27, 2014 at 11:33 am

Certificate of Occupancy

Hi All, i’m interested in a townhouse in Brooklyn that i saw. The house is listed as a “2 family setup as a 3″. The seller said they have the Certificate of Occupancy as a legal 2 family but the layout of the home was built such that it is a 3 family. On the DOB website the building class is “D0″ which is a three unit walkup and it states that there is no C of O on file. This difference in the DOB building class vs the C of O boggles me. If i were to purchase the house and use it as a three unit home would i run into any issues here?

Building Code February 24, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Will my taxes go up? Cellar allowed as "rec room" ?

Hello Brownstoner,

We are thinking about reconfiguring the occupancy of a brownstone we are in contract on.
This will be a gut reno, and the property is currently a 3 family. Ideally we would like to take the two middle floors and rent out the very top floor, and the ground floor.

Additionally, I have been reading up on turning the cellar space into a “rec room”.
I have seen this done before and the results are fantastic. The Cellar is currently 7 feet tall so if we did have to dig, I would imagine it wouldn’t be that deep and we could probably get away with not messing with any underpinning. Take a look at the pic. Im being told that the reason for leaving the “ledge” is because they didn’t underpin?

So, bottom line is, its a 3 family now, and will remain a 3 family.
1. Will this trigger sprinklers?
2. If it requires a CO change because of a reconfiguring the occupancy, will our taxes increase?

I saw Jims post on 1-2 families but i didn’t see anything about a 3.

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