If you’re part of a co-op and condo community, you’ve definitely had to deal with the New York City’s Building Codes. They’re a complex set of regulations, documents, amendments, local laws and more, regulating all sorts of things, from boiler maintenance to elevators to exterior walls.
On top of it all, there are several versions of the individual building codes—one in 1938, another in 1968 and a new construction code effective in 2008. Each one of these sets of codes has been amended any number of times. What may have been perfectly acceptable several decades ago may be illegal now and could lead to thousands of dollars in fines.
While the codes your building follows often depends on when it was constructed, in the event of a major renovation—you may be instructed to “bring it up to [current] code.”
A Little History
The formal codification of safety measures for New York City’s human occupancy and structural edifices dates back to the 17th century, when the first set of fire-prevention principles were established. In 1860, the city created a “superintendent of buildings” within the Fire Department, which then became a full-fledged Department of Buildings in 1936.
The 1936 codes were formulated to meet the growing number of skyscrapers and apartment houses, and the 1968 revisions were meant to address new technologies and building practices. Then less than four decades later, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed an order to study the possibilities of a new code in 2002.