Prior to occupying a Building that has been altered or newly built, an owner or tenant of the facility must obtain a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) from the New York City Department of Buildings. In order to promote a greater understanding of this issue, I would like to explain the process that an architect or expediter must go through in order to obtain this C of O.
A Certificate of Occupancy establishes the legal use and occupancy of a space. It generally lists the live loads of each floor, the zoning use group, the building code occupancy group, and the maximum number of people that may safely occupy the facility.
An amended or new Certificate of Occupancy is required when facilities are newly built. They are also required under some circumstances when they are renovated or altered.
There are several phases to this process:
A Certificate of Occupancy application is submitted to the Building Department which restates the approval, and the process is initiated. A number is assigned to the application and a series of inspections and sign offs are obtained.
In order to obtain a C of O, four sign offs are needed.
A construction inspection is arranged, and an inspector from the Building Department is shown the construction work completed and the approved plans. If the space is built according the approved plans, the inspector will sign off the space. If changes are noted, or deficiencies observed, an objection sheet will be issued. If plans need to be corrected to reflect the as built condition, a post approval amendment will need to be filed and approved. Either a re inspection or a visit to the inspector is needed to satisfy his objections. A meeting with the inspector is required at the Building Department to review the folder and Building violations in order to obtain the sign off.
Violations are the major cause of delay in obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy. The can be no outstanding violations of any kind against the Building containing the facility that a C of O is required. The major violations are usually failure to pay for yearly elevator and boiler violations.
A plumbing sign off is also needed. In order to obtain this, a licensed plumber must first sign off all the work done under the application. Plumbers must obtain all permits for their work. They can either have the Building Department inspect their work, or self certify their own work. If they have successfully fulfilled their obligation, the computer will show a “x” next to their work. The architect can then obtain a Certificate of Occupancy sign off form plumbing.
An electric sign off is required if electric work is done. A licensed electrician must first apply to the Bureau of Electrical Controls (BEC) for all the work. The electrician must have a rough and final inspection and request a C of O sign off. The architect must list the BEC application number on the Certificate of Occupancy application. They can be no open electrical applications or violations in the Building. Once the electrician has successfully obtained a final certificate form BEC, the architect can then visit the BEC and obtain the Certificate of Occupancy sign off.
An elevator sign off must be obtained. If their are no unpaid violations or outstanding violations, the architect will be successful in obtain the elevator sign off for the Certificate of Occupancy. It is very common for elevator violations to exist. The owner of the Building must pay for and resolve all outstanding violations
Once the four inspections listed above are obtained and recorded by the C of O Desk at the Building Department final steps are initiated.
The folder must be re microfilmed to record all changes to the job since it was approved.
A final Cost Affidavit must be completed and filed with the Building Department. The architect will have the fee examiner review and approved the final cost affidavit.
Finally, the Certificate of Occupancy is submitted for typing, proof read, and obtained.