Facilities Planning

When is a Building Permit Required?

Reference Guide #B.3
March 9, 1999

The Office of Facilities Planning reviews plans and specifications and issues building permits for capital construction projects undertaken by public school districts and BOCES. Frequently, the Office is asked if a particular type of project requires such review, approval and issuance of a building permit. This article defines which projects do, and which projects do not require a building permit. There is no question that relatively large new buildings, additions and reconstruction projects require a building permit. The question usually arises with regard to specific types of work and smaller kinds of facilities. The New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code which became effective in 1984 greatly affects the answer.

Department of State Regulations (19 NYCRR 444) which implement the Uniform Code state that "Building permits shall be required for any work (emphasis added) which must conform to the Uniform Code." Building permits are valid for construction projects started within two years of the date of issuance of the building permit. Projects started after the building permit has expired will require a new buiilding permit.

Since all capital construction must conform to applicable provisions of the Uniform Code, this seems to imply that any capital construction project, no matter how small, would require a building permit. However, because of various exceptions in 19 NYCRR 444.3, this is not the case.

There are exceptions in 19 NYCRR 444.3 for:

  • repairs which do not materially affect structural features;
  • small noncommercial structures, not used for habitable space;
  • certain alterations.

By applying these exceptions, the following list is derived of projects which do and do not require building permits. Where a building permit is required, the usual procedure for a typical capital construction project submission to the Office applies. In those cases which do not require a building permit, the Board of Education is responsible to assure conformance with the Uniform Code (Commissioner's regulations, Part 155.2(b) and (c)).

$10,000 SED threshold:

  1. Press boxes, in conformance with the criteria published in the School Executive's Bulletin, April 1990.
  2. Site lighting and outdoor electric, such as field lighting and scoreboards - including supports and electrical hookup.
  3. Concession stands - including such associated facilities as a ticket booth, or field storage, etc.
  4. Small types of projects which affect health and safety; i.e., exiting, fire/safety systems, mechanical systems, etc.

PROJECTS WHICH DO NOT REQUIRE A BUILDING PERMIT, except where specifically qualified:

  1. Site development - including earth moving; finished grading and planting; fencing; paving of roadways, parking and walkways. Irrigation projects shall be submitted. Site development which is in conjunction with a building project, and for which plans and specifications are submitted together with those for the building project, will be reviewed and a building permit issued for the whole project.
  2. Bleacher and grandstand projects which involve only the installation of pre-engineered, factory-built equipment.  Similar projects which involve onsite construction (meaning more than just the excavation of post holes and/or pouring of concrete bases) shall be submitted.
  3. Playground projects which involve only the installation of pre-engineered factory-built equipment. Playgrounds which involve on-site construction of various features and structures shall be submitted. (See School Executive's Bulletin, March 1987)
  4. Special structures, such as pre-engineered flag poles and towers which are less that 100 feet in height. Such structures more than 100 feet in height shall be submitted.
  5. Buildings or structures for such as storage or utility, which are "nonhabitable space" and are not "occupied space", both as defined by Section 606.3 of the Uniform Code, and which do not exceed a total net clear area of 350 square feet. Such buildings or structures shall have no mechanical systems; shall be located on-site in conformance with Section 303.3 of the Manual of Planning Standards and Section 770.2 of the Uniform Code; and shall have at least one door with appropriate exiting hardware which can be operated from within the space.

Although no building permit is necessary for this type of facility, it is necessary that a building number be assigned and that each such facility be inspected annually, pursuant to Section 155.4 of the Commissioner's Regulations. A Request for Approval of Use of a Facility must be submitted to the Office of Facilities Planning.

Any such building or structure which has any mechanical system (electric, heating or water) shall be submitted.  Likewise, the addition of a mechanical system where one does not exist, shall be submitted.

If there are any questions as to what work does, or does not require a building permit, call any Project Manager at the Office of Facilities Planning -- (518) 474-3906. Remember, whether or not a building permit is required, all capital construction must conform to the applicable provisions of the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code.


Return to Facilities Planning Home Page

Last Updated: December 18, 2012