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New Year, New Codes: Major Construction Code Updates for 2022

On October 7, 2021, the NYC Department of Buildings approved a major overhaul to the NYC Construction Code.

Due to go into effect starting in 2022, this includes 600 major updates and thousands of smaller code changes spread across the NYC Administrative, Plumbing, Building, Mechanical and Fuel Gas Codes.

Developed by a variety of technical committees and stakeholders, the amendments under Int 2261-2021 add up to the most comprehensive update of the city codes since 2014. Under Local Law 33 of 2017, New York City must develop revisions every three years to keep the city code up to date with relevant developments in the International Building Code (I-codes). The last revision cycle started in 2017, based on the 2015 IBC.


Some of the featured updates include:

  • New special inspections of parking garages and buildings under ongoing construction to ensure tenant safety.
  • Clarification on the construction documentation required to receive a new Certificate of Occupancy (CO).
  • Accelerated inspection timelines for elevators and similar lifts.
  • Allowed use of netting, low barriers, and chain link fencing around construction areas, rather than requiring only solid fencing, to avoid creating blind tunnels for pedestrians.
  • A lowered 7ft basement clearance requirement for two-family homes (from the previous 8ft) to increase two-family home standards and increase affordable housing opportunities.
  • Expansion of flood zone requirements for the 100-year/ 1%-annual-chance flood hazard area to all critical facilities (including fire, rescue, ambulance, police stations, and designated emergency shelters) located in the 500-year/0.2%-annual-chance flood zone.
  • New annual visual inspections of dry floodproofing systems and triennial full-scale deployment of dry floodproofing in the presence of a special inspection agency.
  • Guidelines supporting the use of alternative energy production processes, including hydrogen fuel cells.
  • Additional sustainable building material choices for certain projects, such as cross-laminated timber and structural composite lumber.

Trends and Effects

Some noticeable trends in these updates include expansions to sustainability and flood resilience, construction safety, and affordable housing, all of which have been priorities for the NYC DOB in the past few years.

Beyond the scope of New York City, the new inspection and maintenance laws around parking garages may be related to the June 2021 Florida condo collapse, which early investigations have tentatively linked to issues and signs of damage in the building’s below-ground parking garage. In any case, the increased attention to parking garages will likely gives some reassurance to tenants concerned with building safety in the wake of that incident.

Needless to say, new rules like additional mandated inspections and flood zone requirements will mean some additional hoops to jump through for building owners, contractors, and developers. However, in other areas, it appears the DOB has allowed for more flexibility to promote construction growth without compromising safety. It should be noted that the DOB also recently announced new review fees for NYC Energy Conservation Code compliance beginning November 8, which is in line with these other changes.

The full extent of the code changes will be rolled out and discussed over the coming months and years, but some of the changes will reportedly go into effect as soon as January 1, 2022. All NYC building owners, contractors, developers, architects, and engineers will need to be on the lookout for which changes will apply when.

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