Getting Started on the New Building. Owner – I Don’t Need that Now. DOB – Yes You Do if You Want a Permit.

By Austin Regan

Although some neighbors may disagree, new buildings do not just suddenly appear on the landscape. It takes years of planning, dozens of companies, and hundreds of people to get any substantial structure built. For the owner to have a smooth, profitable development project, they need to ensure that the correct consultants and contractors are engaged at the right moments in order to keep the planning and building process moving forward.

Obviously it is critical to have the players on board and working on the project at the proper time in the planning process in order to not delay the work of other consultants. The simplest way to do that is to hire every consultant and contractor needed on day one of the project. For reasons of cost management, this never occurs. It doesn’t make much sense to commit to a window manufacturer if the architect has not figured out what the windows will look like.

So, consultants and contractors are traditionally brought on to the project team as the project phase starts to involve their area of expertise. Because of DOB approval and permitting requirements, some of these players must be brought to the table much earlier than what the construction timeline calls for. Below are some examples.

Builders Pavement Plan – The New Building is just getting filed and it may be years before the project will need to pour the sidewalks that the BPP shows but a design must be produced and an application filed with DOB in order to be eligible for any permit under the NB.

Parks Department Street Tree Filing – All developments are required by zoning to plant street trees. The Parks Department requires a plan to be filed with them showing the location of proposed and existing street trees. Proof that the plan was filed and accepted (street tree receipt) must be submitted before NB approval.

Support of Excavation Plans – While the engineering work associated with SOE has traditionally been considered a contractor means and methods responsibility, the DOB will not grant NB approval unless these drawings are filed under the NB application. This means that engineering services for the SOE drawings may need to be retained by ownership since a contractor may not be in place in time to have those drawings prepared.

Temporary Standpipe & Alarm filing – Normally another contractor item, no permit will be issued on a high rise building unless the standpipe permit is in place. Since this application can take a few months to be approved by the DOB, most likely the Standpipe contractor has not even been chosen yet. The actual procuring of the permit, which can only be obtained by the standpipe contractor, will be occurring 6-12 months before it is actually needed.

Shed permit- a sidewalk shed is required to be in place once the building reaches 40 feet. Because the DOB computer requires proof that a shed permit has been pulled prior to issuing any NB permits, the sub-contractor for the shed needs to be on board early to file and get a permit for the shed many months before it will need to be installed.

Concrete supplier and sub-contractor – Even though it may take many months of digging before any thought of pouring concrete is entertained, the concrete sub-contractor must be chosen well before NB approval because the concrete supplier must be known. The supplier provides the TR-3 Concrete Mix form which can take over a month to produce. It is required to be submitted to the DOB prior to any NB permit being issued.

Some of the items mentioned above are occasionally waived as requirement for permit when applying for a foundation or excavation permit only but that is at the discretion of the DOB. There is no consistency as to their policies for the granting of these waivers. Sometimes the owners will chose to hire sub-contractors or consultants to obtain “place holder permits” or produce “dummy” sets of drawings in order to meet the DOB’s early requirements.

While this can be done, the correct players and accurate drawings must be on site when the related work commences. Changing out permit holders and replacing engineers of records and their drawings does not happen instantaneously. Performing the work without the correct documents or permit holders can lead to Stop Work Orders being issued.