‘I only want to know what I need for TCO’

By Austin Regan, R.A.

It is inevitable. At every Certificate of Occupancy kickoff meeting, someone interrupts the first 10 minutes of my presentation, saying, “I only want to know what I need for TCO.” The architect, owner, and contractor all have different areas of expertise and knowledge related to the development, but they all understand that the Department of Buildings will issue a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy prior to construction being completed. These professionals are busy. They want a short, precise road map that delivers them the precious document as painlessly as possible.

The question is always the same, and my answer is, too: Temporary C of O requires exactly what you need for Final C of O.

Commissioner Discretion

My statement is an oversimplification, as I will explain. No section of the Building Code outlines exact requirements for TCOs, which are issued at the sole discretion of the Borough Commissioner. Because of this, the precise requirements for obtaining a TCO vary from borough to borough. For example, every new building requires an approved Builder’s Pavement Plan (BPP). The permanent sidewalks are constructed per the BPP. In Brooklyn, the entire sidewalk does not need to be poured or the BPP inspected for TCO. In the Bronx and Staten Island, however, a TCO will not be issued unless the BPP is signed off or an escrow account is established.

The borough commissioners are individuals, with differing backgrounds and experiences. Each one wants to see certain milestones accomplished on a job before considering whether or not to issue a TCO. All want to ensure that, if a TCO is granted, the people living in and/or using the building will be safe. This is especially true for partial TCOs, where construction work will continue in parts of the building.

Standard TCO Requirements

Besides an emphasis on user safety, some standards for TCOs are typical for each borough, including the following:

  1. Division Signoffs. At least a temporary signoff is required from the Construction, Plumbing, and Elevator Divisions of DOB. (The 4th division signoff, Electrical, is only required for Final CO signoff.)
  2. Only in rare instances do open violations need to be resolved for TCO.
  3. Open Applications. Only certain applications need to be signed off for TCO.
  4. Fire Alarm. The status of the operation and signoff of the Fire Alarm system must be addressed.

In the following months, we will cover the specific requirements for securing each division signoff, as well as what to present to the Borough Commissioner for the initial TCO request. For those preparing make a TCO request in the near future, plan on finishing everything so as to make Metropolis’ and the rest of the team’s life less stressful.

By the end of the series, you should have a firm grasp on the critical items needed for TCO issuance and what each borough expects.