Barry Milliken, Architect

Nassau and Suffolk County Permits

After your project drawings are completed, they need to be submitted along with your survey to the correct building department. If your project is an addition, you also submit your Certificate of Occupancy and (if you are in a flood zone) your Flood Elevation Certificate. If your property lies within an incorporated village, you submit your plans to your Village Building Department. If not, you submit your plans to your Town Building Department.

The Building Department will review your plans for compliance with up to 5 types of laws:

1. The Town or Village zoning code. A zoning code divides a town or village into zoning districts, each with different restrictions on building type and size, area, height, setbacks from property lines and other requirements. Most zoning codes are published online (see individual links below) but often the district maps are not, so you need to call the building department to find out what district you lot is in. If your plans don’t comply with the code, you may be able to apply for a zoning variance and appear before the Zoning Board of Appeals.

2. The New York State Residential Building Code. This is a 600 page book specifying thousands of requirements covering the design of rooms, stairs, structural members, electrical and plumbing systems, energy conservation and many other aspects of construction.

3. The Suffolk County Health department requirements for septic systems. If you have a private septic system your project may require that it be expanded. Any new or expanded septic system plan must obtain a separate permit from the county.

4. The New York State Environmental Law. If your project is adjacent to wetlands or waterways a separate permit from the state is required.

5. If your Village has created an Architectural Review Board, you and your architect must make a presentation to them to show that the materials and exterior character of the house are aesthetically compatible with the surrounding houses.

If your project requires septic or wetland permits, I recommend hiring a permit expeditor to apply for all permits. If not, either the project owner or (more usually) the project contractor can apply for the building permit.