City Council Passes New Building Codes
This one slipped past us completely – what it means to renovations and older buildings is yet to be seen.
BY FRANK LOMBARDI
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU
Posted Thursday, June 28th 2007, 4:00 AM
After four years of heavy lifting, the City Council finally voted yesterday to approve a modernized building code for the city.
The new code will affect the construction of homes, apartments, skyscrapers and other buildings throughout the city for decades to come.
Though it was a long time in the making, the highly technical legislation was readily approved by a vote of 47 to 0, with one abstention.
Once they aresigned into law by Mayor Bloomberg, the provisions will kick in starting July 2008. Builders will have the option of using either the existing code or the new one until July 2009, when the new code will become fully mandatory.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), who oversaw protracted negotiations over the bill with the mayor and his administration, said the new code “will make our city safer and greener.”
The building code is a compendium of technical rules and specifications that dictates a wide range of construction practices, materials and methods. It was last updated in 1968, when John Lindsay was mayor and American Neil Armstrong had yet to step on the moon.
Some of the new requirements are:
Fire sprinklers will be mandatory, not just for high-rise apartment buildings but also for any new residential buildings with three or more units. That includes attached two-family homes, as well as one-family and two-family homes that have more than three stories.
Hardwired and interconnected smoke alarms will be required in each bedroom and other locations in multilevel dwelling units.
New high-rise buildings will need separate on-site water supplies for emergencies, including earthquakes, that might cut off city water.
Spurred by 9/11, new safety features will be required in high-rise residential buildings, including an internal communication system, wider stairs, elevator lobbies with smoke partitions and impact-resistant walls around stair and elevator enclosures.
Other features of the new code are intended to increase safety at construction sites. And yet other provisions are intended to encourage builders to use environmentally friendly or “green” materials, equipment or designs.
Builders can receive rebates of their permit fees for abiding by those code specifications.
In other business, the Council agreed by a 48-to-0 vote to ease a requirement that bars, taverns and other premises have a billiard-hall license if they have two or more pool tables.
Critics had complained that the requirement was bureaucratically burdensome. Such premises will now be allowed to have up to three tables without having to obtain the special license.