Blink, and It’s Time for a New Building Code

By Frank Fortino

How’s this for a fast pace. After a forty year break between the 1968 Building Code and the 2008 Code, the City’s on track to convert over to the newly minted 2014 Code. With the signing of LL141/13, the 2014 Code will supersede the 2008 Code on October 1, 2014. Yet, as we’ve learned with the last Code update, the changeover isn’t as simple as one would hope.

The issue in all Code upgrades are the exceptions – the cases where an applicant can file under the previous Code rather than the current Code. To make sense of the matter, the DOB has issued Buildings Bulletin 2014-006, which clarifies the protocol for new buildings, alterations, and demolition.

Let’s start with New Buildings. While there are many caveats here, the bottom line is that October 1, 2014 is a line in the sand. This means that submissions before this deadline can be subject to the 2008 Code. Same goes for Alt-1, Alt-2 and Alt-3 jobs.

To be clear – the submissions for these projects must meet the minimum requirements for completeness under the DOB’s Plan Examination Guidelines. The project must be close to finished, with all drawings, site plans, zoning details, floor plans, and structural details completed. While there is some room here, it should be obvious to the architects and engineers if the project is at this stage.

While the package must be completed, the DOB is not tying the outcome to open agency reviews and approvals. The project can file under the 2008 Code, with the outcome of reviews from Transit, DOT, FDNY or Board of Standards and Appeals still pending. Further, New Buildings seeking to file under the 2008 Code may do so even if the Fire Alarm or Mechanical Filings are submitted after the deadline.

However, and this is important – substantial increases in footprint or work scope will trigger a need to upgrade to the 2014 Code. So if you are racing the clock to get your application in, make sure that the plans are what you intend to go forward with.

The October 1 deadline applies to almost everything. For Chapter 33 provisions – both Full Demolitions and Partial Demolitions, anything before October 1 falls under the 2008 Code, and everything after triggers the 2014 Code. You can start to get the hang of how the timing works.

As of right now, the one exception to the deadline is the effective date for Additional Exit Stairways. The deadline for these cases is pushed out until June 30, 2015.

During the last conversion to the 2008 Code, we all experienced hiccups along the way. The early part of the process revealed more questions than answers, yet everything eventually started to gel as expected. With all of the talented minds and skilled workers in our industry, we can expect another successful transition.