DOB Streamlines Sign Hanging Process (in Certain Situations)

By Penny Laughlin

Effective April 7, 2017, the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) added a new section to the Rules of the City of New York (RCNY), which governs sign hanging. The amendment permits licensed sign hangers (Master Sign Hangers and Special Sign Hangers) to file applications for signs and related structural elements that comply with specific requirements. This change eliminates the need to hire registered design professionals or permit expediting services in NYC, in certain situations.

Licensed sign hangers

The new section defines a “licensed sign hanger” as either a Master Sign Hanger or a Special Sign Hanger. According to the Administrative Code of the City of New York:

  • Master Sign Hangers hoist, lower, hang, or attach signs, irrespective of weight, upon or on the outside of a building.
  • Special Sign Hangers have size and weight restrictions upon the signs that they hoist, lower, hang, or attach upon or on the outside of a building.

Speaking of restrictions . . .

Licensed sign hangers may only file permit applications to install signs and related structural elements if meeting all the following requirements:

  • Sign application must comply with applicable provisions of the New York City Building Code and Zoning Resolution.
  • The application is limited to wall-mounted, accessory signs. (Accessory signs are non-advertising and incidental to the principal use of a zoning lot.)
  • The sign’s display face area cannot exceed 150 s.f.
  • No portion of the sign may project more than 18 inches beyond the building face, regardless of setback.
  • All of the sign must be mounted below the level of the second-story ceiling.
  • The sign cannot exceed 300 pounds in total weight, including any related structural elements.
  • Signs must be mounted with mechanical anchors, installed according to the table below. A minimum of four anchors must be used, fastened 12 inches on center. In addition, the anchors must support five times the weight of the sign and any structural elements.
Anchors in Concrete and Masonry Walls
Anchor Diameter Embedment Depth
¼” 1” minimum
5/16” 1” minimum
3/8” 1 ¼” minimum
½” 1 ½” minimum
5/8” 2” minimum
¾” 2” minimum
Anchors in Wood Walls
Anchor Diameter Embedment Depth
¼” to ¾” inch 2” minimum

Design professionals still needed

In addition to projects that do not comply with the above requirements, registered design professionals must still file permit applications to install any of the following:

  • Rooftop-mounted signs
  • Signs projecting more than 18” or more across a street line
  • Marquees
  • Digital signs
  • Signs with structural work beyond a frame or support to provide rigidity

If you have any questions about this or other DOB matters, please call Metropolis Group at 212.233.6344 or by email at