The certificate of occupancy is a document certifying that the respective building has complied with all the applicable building codes and laws, such as building codes for decks. It is issued by either a building department or a local government agency. Its position implies that the building is in a livable condition or is ready enough to be occupied. In order to obtain it, one needs to follow certain procedures and fulfill certain requirements.
Generally, it may be required in three conditions. First, when the building is being newly constructed. Second, based on the change of use of the building, for example, if the building was originally being used for industrial purposes and is now to be used as a residence. In this case, it requires a certificate of occupancy to prove and legalize the change of use and make it official by the respective jurisdiction. The third condition is when there is a change of ownership of any kind of a building, be it a residential, commercial, or an industrial building.
How to Apply
The first thing to do when you are buying or building a house, is to visit the Buildings Department Customer Service Office of your borough office and check if the house already has a certificate of occupancy or check the status if it's pending. If it is not yet issued, then you need to work according to the requirements given to you by the office. An easy way of doing it is to visit the website: www.nyc.gov/bis, tick on your respective borough, and enter the address which needs to be verified. If the building or the house does not have a certificate then you could check all the building requirements that are necessary in order to obtain the certificate.
Finish the Pending Work
The second step would be to hire reliable contractors and finish up all the pending work of the house to comply with the building requirements. The construction plan for renovation or building a new house needs to be submitted by the contractors to get an approval from the Department of Buildings. This will be followed by an inspection from the department for which an appointment needs to be taken in advance.
If the work is unfinished and if you need to move into the new house and cannot wait until you receive the final certificate then you can request for a temporary certificate of occupancy that is valid for 90 days in New York City. This is also issued after an inspection that concludes that the basic safety requirements are in place for the house to be occupied.
After the inspection, if the authorized person from the department is convinced that the home construction or the home improvement project has complied with all the building codes, all the fees and dues are paid, and all the paperwork is legalized and submitted, the certificate of occupancy will be approved and issued.
Some of the most important points checked by the inspection authorities include exterior and interior paintings of the house, architecture, smoke alarms on all levels of the building, plumbing leaks such as leaky faucets, whether sewage systems are for sewage or ground water, handrails on the stairways, condition of the window panes, if it's broken or cracked, condition of the stove burners and heating systems in the house, cover plates on switches and electrical junction boxes, condition of the walkways or sidewalks, etc. Of course, these are just a few of the conditions. In order to obtain a certificate of occupancy there may be several other factors taken into account to ensure overall safety in the house.