Down By Law

Any home remodel in New York City that involves adjusting partitions or plumbing requires a work permit from the Department of Buildings (DOB).  Although the rules aren’t always observed, upstanding architects and contractors spend a great deal of time chasing these permits.

I worked with a couple who are remodeling their bathrooms and I’m shocked at how convoluted the DOB procedure is, even with a professional expediter to help us.  The application required specially formatted construction drawings and two sets of paperwork.  In addition to the architect’s fee and the expediter’s fee the owners paid a fee for the DOB filing and another for the work permit.  The most exasperating part was the time frame.  After rushing to submit an application we waited four weeks to hear back from the DOB, who had minor objections, and then another two weeks to hear back after submitting revisions.

The whole effort to get the permit, which took almost two months, felt less like a procedure to protect life and safety than a Medieval ritual to collect wealth for the king.  For small residential remodels like this one, there’s got to be a simpler, faster way for the city to regulate the work.

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