Facilities Planning

When is a Building Permit Required?

Reference Guide #B.3
March 9, 1999 (rev. October 2, 2014)

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.

Department of State Regulations (19 NYCRR Chapter 32 Part 1203.3) which implement the Uniform Code state that "Building permits shall be required for work 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 building 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 Chapter 32 Part 1203.3, this is not the case.

There are exceptions in 19 NYCRR Chapter 32 Part 1203.3 for:

  • installation of fences which are not part of an enclosure surrounding a swimming pool;
  • construction of retaining walls unless such walls support a surcharge or impound Class I, II or IIIA liquids;
  • installation of partitions or movable cases less than 5′-9″ in height;
  • painting, wallpapering, tiling, carpeting, or other similar finish work;
  • installation of listed portable electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilation or cooling equipment or appliances;
  • replacement of any equipment provided the replacement does not alter the equipment's listing or render it inconsistent with the equipment's original specifications; and
  • repairs, provided that such repairs do not involve:
    • the removal or cutting away of a loadbearing wall, partition, or portion thereof, or of any structural beam or load bearing component;
    • the removal or change of any required means of egress, or the rearrangement of parts of a structure in a manner which affects egress;
    • the enlargement, alteration, replacement or relocation of any building system;
    • the removal from service of all or part of a fire protection system for any period of time.

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, Concession Stands, Toilet Facilities, Guard Booths, Ticket Booths, Storage/Utility Buildings larger than 200 square feet, and similar structures.
  2. Bleacher and grandstand projects which involve onsite construction (meaning the excavation of post holes and/or pouring of concrete bases).
  3. Pavilions, Bandstands, Membrane Structures, Greenhouses, and similar structures.
  4. Site lighting and outdoor electric, such as field lighting and scoreboards - including supports and electrical hookup.
  5. 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 projects which involve only the installation of pre-engineered, factory-built equipment.
  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.
  4. Special structures, such as pre-engineered flag poles and towers which are less than 100 feet in height.  Such structures more than 100 feet in height shall be submitted.
  5. Buildings or structures for storage or utility, which are not "habitable space" or "occupiable space", both as defined by Section 202 of the Uniform Code, and which do not exceed a total gross floor area of 200 square feet.  Such buildings or structures shall have no mechanical systems (electric, heating or water); shall be located on-site in conformance with the Manual of Planning Standards and 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 Form FP-AU must be submitted to the Office of Facilities Planning.  Any such building or structure which has any mechanical system(s) shall be submitted.  Likewise, the addition of any 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.



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Last Updated: November 25, 2014