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COVID-19 Hits NYC Construction

Navigating filing and construction in the midst of New York on PAUSE.

As New Yorkers safeguard themselves against Novel Coronavirus/COVID-19, all city institutions are tightening protocols in order to take extra precautions. The Department of Buildings is no exception, changing its normal filing procedures in order to limit traffic to DOB offices for customer and employee safety.

With these changes, as well as the shutdown of all non-essential projects that came at the end of March (with a whopping fine of $10,000 for disobeying), companies can expect a slowdown across the entire industry at least until the end of April. Even when the current city quarantine is eased, there are likely to be continuing delays in material delivery, manpower and funding as the rest of the country and world deal with the virus.

But that doesn’t mean all work has to stop. Projects deemed essential, like utilities, affordable housing and especially hospitals and healthcare facilities, will need to be top priority. The DOB is still operating, so it’s a good time to take a hard look and make sure designs, permits and documents are in order. Careful planning and communication now, while keeping delays in mind, will make it easier to get up and running again when things start getting back to normal.

Service Notice Summaries
To help you get a leg up, here’s a breakdown of the DOB notices issued so far, from most recent (as of April 2, 2020):

Civil Penalty Review Requests (L2) and Post Approval Amendment (PAA) Payments (Effective April 2)
L2 and PAA payments must now be submitted online only. Paper L2 (Requests for Overrides, Reductions or Waivers of Civil Penalties for Work Without a Permit) forms will no longer be accepted at the borough office.

Suspension of All Work on Nonessential Construction and Demolition Sites (Effective March 31)
Outlines what is considered essential construction, and how to make an essential construction request. All After Hours Variance (AHV) permits will be rescinded, Place of Assembly and Temporary Place of Assembly approvals are suspended.

Cranes Filings (Phase One) Launch in DOB NOW: Build Postponed Until Further Notice
Originally scheduled to launch March 30, 2020, Crane Filings will not be added to DOB NOW until further notice.

Litigation Papers, Subpoenas and FOIL Requests (Effective March 27)
Provides email guidelines for litigation papers, subpoenas and FOIL requests, to limit traffic to DOB. In addition, subpoena fees will be waived until further notice.

Appointments for Standard Plan Review BIS Job Filings (Effective March 24)
From March 24, there will be no in-person plan examination appointments for standard plan review BIS job filings until further notice. New and already-scheduled appointments will be conducted by phone, with any relevant documents uploaded to eFiling prior to the appointment.

Enforcement (Effective March 20)
Covers temporary procedures and contact information to resolve a DOB violation, arrange for re-inspections, request rescission of a Stop Work Order, request an inquiry, and rescind a Vacate Order.

Full Demolition and Site Safety Plans (Effective March 20)
Full demolition plans and Site Safety Plans must be submitted with a completed cover sheet by email, in one flattened PDF. If the file size is larger than 15 MB, paper plans may be mailed or dropped off in the designated box located at the Construction Safety Compliance – Plan Exam office.

Administrative Enforcements (AEU) and Licensing Units Updates (Effective March 18)
As of March 18, there will be NO in-person license application reviews. Certificates of Correction documents and license applications not on DOB NOW must be submitted by mail or by hand. However, the requirement to submit licensing renewal applications 30-60 days prior to the license expiration date has not been changed. So, keep on top of your deadlines!

Application Processing Update (Effective March 18)
For certain transactions usually done in person, drop-off and mail-in options are now available at every borough office. Topics covered include: Transactions with Payment, Transactions without Payment and Supersede Requests. NOTE: Info on L2s and Post Approval Amendments has since been changed (see update effective April 2).

Please remember that the sooner New Yorkers take action, the sooner we can get a better handle on the situation and get back to some semblance of normal. Keep calm and stay safe, and ensure others can do the same.

If you are beginning a project and need assistance on how to approach the filing process during these uncertain and ever-changing times, please email