Construction Permits in New York City 101

If you are planning a remodel or renovation for your NYC home, then you need to know the legal requirements tied in to such things. Of course, this refers mainly to the permits required. As such, let’s cover the construction permits in New York City 101!

The things which don’t require a permit

The first thing that’s handy to know is what doesn’t require a permit at all. Namely, all such things fall under ‘minor alterations’ to your home. For example, if all you want to do is replace your flooring in a single room, then you wouldn’t require a permit. The only concern you’d have would be picking out the right carpet to put in if that’s your flooring preference.

Caption: Just putting in new appliances does not require a permit.

Alt tag: Installing appliances

The rough outline of the process of obtaining construction permits in New York City

The process of applying of planning your renovation or remodel should go something like this:

  • You hire a licensed Registered Architect or Professional Engineer who drafts the plans and files them with the relevant authorities.
  • You hire a contractor to carry out the work once you get approval for previously filed plans, who then applies for the permits necessary to do the work, aka construction permits in New York City.
  • The work is completed, and an inspection by the relevant authorities is organized.
  • The inspection is passed, and you acquire the necessary legal documents that prove everything was done right.

As you can see, you would most likely not even need to file for permits yourself. It is still smart to know enough about them, since you’d be paying for the fees!

The types of permits

Construction of new structures

The most straightforward of the construction permits in New York City is the simple building permit. This permit is also referred to as an ‘NB’ permit, or New Building Permit. It is required for any type of new construction work, and without it, your build would not be considered legal. Most of the time, you want to have your contractors apply for this type of permit. They have the know-how and all the setup required to do it quickly and without errors. Besides, it is entirely impossible to tackle such a project on your own anyway! So, you may as well make full use of the support the professionals you are paying provide you.


The first type of the alteration construction permits in New York City is the ALT1, or a ‘Major Alterations’ permit as it is sometimes known. This is the permit you want to apply for if you have some sort of really thorough remodel planned. The kind that, as the NYC Mini Storage experts advise, would require you to have all your belongings removed from the premises and placed safely inside a storage facility. Or, as the law states, the remodel would make ‘major alterations that will change the use, egress, or occupancy of a building’. Once again, you are better off letting your contractors file the application for this kind of permit. Trying any sort of DIY for this type of project is wholly unwise still.


ALT2 is the midway between really large remodels and the smaller stuff. It will typically not impact the use of your home quite as much as the previously discussed work would. However, it is still used for types of renovations that affect multiple areas in your home at the same time. For example, renovations such as converting your basement into a new room, while also having your bathroom touched up, and your roof refreshed. All really annoying to put up with, but you could conceivably live in your home while it’s ongoing without too much trouble. In other words, renovations that don’t make you think you should just look for your ideal home instead of making the investment.

Caption: Having a fancy new basement is always nice, especially in NYC.

Alt tag: A renovated basement


ALT3 is the final of the construction permits in New York City related to alterations. And it is meant for the most minor alterations. Legally, you would be required to apply for this permit if you are planning ‘one type of minor work, which does not affect the use, egress or occupancy of the building’ in any way. In other words, this is for everything that might require you to call in professionals. But it really only affects one part of your home and doesn’t change anything about it substantially. This is probably the only permit on our list which you might feel compelled to apply for on your own. After all, while difficult, it is theoretically possible to complete the renovations that fall under the scope of this permit on your own.

Caption: You definitely still want professional help for things such as roof repair!

Alt tag: Assessing roof damage 

Remember the fees

When you are planning out your budget, especially if you need to account for additional expenses such as self-storage facilities to provide safety to your valuable items, you cannot afford to forget about anything that requires you to spend more money. Fees, however, tend to slip most people’s minds until they are suddenly brought up. Now, the good thing is that fees are charged only for work that requires a Department of Buildings permit. Meaning only the really major alterations and building projects. The fees also differ between a new build and alterations. In both cases, it is related to the cost of the project. For alteration, there is a flat 95$ fee for under twenty five thousand dollars. With five dollars added for each one thousand after that. New building fees are passed on fifteen cents per square foot for one-to-three family residences. And twenty five for everything else.

The requirements of hiring professionals

As may have become amply clear after discussing construction permits in New York City, in order to ensure you are getting everything done properly, you really want to work with the right professionals. Picking out the right contractors is the difference between things going smoothly and getting potentially mired in a legal mess. And while the chances of this are low if all you want to do is install some wall LED lighting, the larger the project, the higher the risks. So, make sure anyone you are planning to work with is thoroughly vetted.

Final comment

With construction permits in New York City 101 under your belt, you will be able to follow the actions of your contractors and ensure that your project goes well. Once again, however, we would like to emphasize just how important it is to work with people you can trust! You shouldn’t have to stress over catching any mistakes on their part.

Post Author: Jennifer Sapp