New York City enforces ban on nonessential construction

April 8, 2020

The New York City Department of Buildings has introduced new contractor and developer protocols following New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent order that most construction in the city be halted to stem the spread of the coronavirus, according to Until further notice, the only types of work permitted to continue are emergency construction, work on essential facilities and projects that require only one on-site worker.

Emergency construction work includes projects that will help protect the health and safety of a building’s occupants, as well as restoration of heat, hot water or power. The DOB also is allowing work to continue on projects that would be unsafe if construction stopped. Essential facilities include roads, bridges and transit infrastructure; utilities; health care facilities; transitional housing and homeless shelters; and affordable housing.

The department has revoked all After Hours Variance permits, which authorize night and weekend work, and will only issue them for essential or emergency construction projects moving forward. Contractors violating the DOB’s new rules face fines of up to $10,000.

In a media statement, DOB Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca said the department is prepared to enforce its ban on nonessential construction.

“Anyone breaking these rules should expect stiff enforcement—we simply cannot afford to continue business as usual,” La Rocca said.

The DOB began enforcement inspections of the city’s 35,000-plus active construction sites during the week of March 30. As of April 2, the department had issued more than 100 violations and stop-work orders for noncompliance with Cuomo’s order. However, DOB Press Secretary Andrew Rudansky said the DOB overall has seen “overwhelming compliance.”

More than 99% of nonessential construction sites have shut down or are in the process of doing so. Where construction work is allowed to continue, contractors must practice social distancing in all areas, including elevators, meal areas and along paths of egress. Projects that have stopped construction also must adhere to DOB guidelines for a safe, secure project shutdown.


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