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Thread: Construction applications and permits

  1. #1
    I'm killing bad guys krashnburn's Avatar
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    Construction applications and permits

    I have a character (let's call him Mr. X) building a club in NYC. I need him to have a problem during construction that slows him down a little--maybe 2-3 weeks. I'm thinking he's got a Fire and Building Code problem that needs to be fixed to get his Place of Assembly permit. I'm on the NYC Buildings website and I think I get what I can do, but I'm hoping someone with construction/design experience can verify these things for me. Thanks!

    1. Mr. X finds the appropriate property, has an architect draw up plans that comply with the Fire and Building Code requirements and that allows Mr. X to get a Certifcate of Occupancy. Now he can start work.
    2. Construction company comes in and does said work. Interior designers come in and do some of their own things.
    3. Before club can open, an inspector must come in and make sure the club is according to plans and there are no safety violations.
    4. Inspector finds problem and denies Mr. X his Place of Assembly permit (this permit comes at the end, after everything is done and the inspection made, right?).
    5. Now, who is to blame for said problems (for now, let's say some small partitions were put up and/or seating changed a bit that effected emergency egress)? Does the architect stay with the project the whole time, so he should have overseen deviations by the construction crew? Or what if these were free-standing partitiions put in by the interior designers--who should have been overseeing what they did (not sure if they would ever do something like this)?

    This whole bit is rather short in the book--maybe a paragraph or two. I just need Mr. X to be mad his plans are delayed (and be distracted by an afternoon at the NYC Buildings office) and have someone to blame. Then he can fix the issues and move on.
    Last edited by krashnburn; 01-11-2013 at 10:46 PM.

  2. #2
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    1. You don't get a certificate of occupancy until after construction is completed. The building permit is issued before construction, then the building inspector comes and verifies that what was built complies, and then issues the certificate.

    2. Yes. Interior designer should not be adding any partitions.

    3. What I just said for #1.

    4. Yes. It is called the occupancy permit. Assembly is a type of occupancy, one that has special rules. And yes, a club is considered to be assembly.

    5. The architect is responsible, as he has to approve any changes made from the drawings during the construction period. The contractor is also responsible, for having to report any changes. If the contractor made changes without informing anyone, then he is responsible. If the architect approved changes, then he is responsible. The architect should oversee any additional walls installed by the interior designer, as these affect egress and occupancy, etc. The contractor should not put up any partitions that the architect did not approve. Likewise, the Interior designer should not be issuing any directives to the contractor without going through the architect.

  3. #3
    I'm killing bad guys krashnburn's Avatar
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    Thank you!!!!!!!!!

  4. #4
    God of the Oceans
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    I agree with Sarpedon, but if the work was done according to the plans, and there was a problem that kept it from getting a CO, then the permit was issued in error, and the owner can take action against the inspections department.

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
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    He has an architect, a gc, etc., he's probably not at the permit office himself - they file the stuff, not him.

    Just btw, he could also have a liquor license problem, which seems just simpler to me, if you just want a random delay.

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    Or you could have one of the subcontractors be a thief who did not follow the plans.

  7. #7
    I'm killing bad guys krashnburn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cornflake View Post
    He has an architect, a gc, etc., he's probably not at the permit office himself - they file the stuff, not him.

    Just btw, he could also have a liquor license problem, which seems just simpler to me, if you just want a random delay.
    Very true, but I have him at the office because he has a..."persuasion" ability and he's trying to manipulate them into giving him the permit anyway.

    I have no idea what goes into getting a liqour license: what problems would arise and how would that be simpler?

    And thanks to everyone for responding!

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    Quote Originally Posted by cornflake View Post
    Just btw, he could also have a liquor license problem, which seems just simpler to me, if you just want a random delay.
    Liquor licenses can be Hellish. If you just want the owner to be slightly delayed, then leave it as a problem with egress that requires a minor change in something.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by krashnburn View Post
    I have no idea what goes into getting a liqour license: what problems would arise and how would that be simpler?
    Liquor licenses are usually issued by the city. Depending on the city (I don't know about one as big as NYC), there could be a limit on the number of licenses available. This is the case in the smaller cities I've lived in. You could always check the NYC city government for an application and see what kinds of hoops must be jumped through.

    Many restaurants will do a BYOB (bring your own bottle) to get around the requirement of the liquor license.


    Something else you might consider as a block is the getting of a business license--which allows the business to open in the first place. In many cities, this requires an application to the city council and the owner's appearance at a council meeting to be approved. Neighbors (residential and commercial) within XX yards/miles of your business have the right to show up and voice their approval or disapproval of your business being allowed in their neck of the woods. Without that, it doesn't matter how much work you've put into the building, you're not opening the doors.

    If something came up at a council meeting and approval of the business license was tabled to the next meeting--that could be the weeks that you want and require your character to be tending to it in person.
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  10. #10
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
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    It'd be simpler because there are a thousand things that can hold up, screw up, etc., a liquor license and while yeah, restaurants and such will do BYOB and charge a corking fee, I'd wager a nightclub will hold until they get the license in place.

    Just seemed simpler to have it be the one thing that can go nearly any direction.

  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW benluby's Avatar
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    A two to three week delay? Easiest would be a subcontractor who finished installing, we'll say, the sinks and toilets, as well as the wiring and drywall in the bathrooms WITHOUT getting the approval on the electrical and plumbing from code enforcement. They'd literally make him rip it out and re-do it.
    It could be as simple as the sub just needed a check, and scammed the owner into thinking it was up to code, got his money and ran.
    Inspector comes in for another part, notices it wasn't done properly, and orders it 'fixed'. Then, even if it takes two days to redo, you still have to wait on the code enforcement officer to get back around to you.

  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by benluby View Post
    A two to three week delay? Easiest would be a subcontractor who finished installing, we'll say, the sinks and toilets, as well as the wiring and drywall in the bathrooms WITHOUT getting the approval on the electrical and plumbing from code enforcement. They'd literally make him rip it out and re-do it.
    It could be as simple as the sub just needed a check, and scammed the owner into thinking it was up to code, got his money and ran.
    Inspector comes in for another part, notices it wasn't done properly, and orders it 'fixed'. Then, even if it takes two days to redo, you still have to wait on the code enforcement officer to get back around to you.
    Not in NYC - which I know because believe me, I was as surprised as you're about to be.

    If you do work that needs to be inspected and signed off on, you schedule an inspection. When the inspector doesn't show, as is apparently incredibly common, the contractor is then allowed to inspect it himself and sign off on his own work and that's totally valid.

  13. #13
    Couth barbarian calieber's Avatar
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    Getting a liquor license in NYC requires Community Board approval, a needlessly abstruse process which has been known to add extra time for no apparent reason; the business owner does have an opportunity to plead his or her case before the board.
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    Misbehaving and stuff Beachgirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by King Neptune View Post
    I agree with Sarpedon, but if the work was done according to the plans, and there was a problem that kept it from getting a CO, then the permit was issued in error, and the owner can take action against the inspections department.
    Except that cities generally have a certain immunity when it comes to permits being issued in error.

    Quote Originally Posted by krashnburn View Post
    Very true, but I have him at the office because he has a..."persuasion" ability and he's trying to manipulate them into giving him the permit anyway.
    Building departments are not as persuadable as you might think. Ive been the director of city planning, zoning & building departments for, well, too many years. And no one ever successfully bullied me into issuing a permit or letting a safety issue slide.



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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beachgirl View Post
    Except that cities generally have a certain immunity when it comes to permits being issued in error.
    It depends on the nature of the eror and who made it. Damages would be quite limited, and it is sometimes to evade regulations about which an error has been made. For example, if a plan were allowed that included X even though X had been banned for three years, then X might end up being allowed in that building. Even worse is when something is acceptable in one part of the code but forbidden in another section.

  16. #16
    I'm killing bad guys krashnburn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beachgirl View Post
    Building departments are not as persuadable as you might think. Ive been the director of city planning, zoning & building departments for, well, too many years. And no one ever successfully bullied me into issuing a permit or letting a safety issue slide.
    I'm sure! But this is an urban fantasy and he's not just a sweet talker--he has an actual power to screw with people's minds. In the long run, he can't do it for various reasons, but that's what I meant by persuasion.

    Thank you everyone! I know what I'm going to do.

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