For many cosmetic renovations that do not require you to change the plumbing, electrical system, or structural layout of your NYC home, you may not require a DOB permit to complete that renovation. However, it’s a good idea to contact the DOB or a licensed contractor to inquire about the permit requirements of the specific renovation you are undertaking.
Painting your walls and doors or putting up wallpaper may not require you to obtain a DOB permit. You can also undertake these projects DIY though it’s recommended to use a professional installer for wallpaper, especially if you already have a wallpaper that needs to be stripped off before a new one can be installed.
Replacing plumbing fixtures, including toilets in the bathrooms, and sinks in both bathrooms and kitchens, do not require a permit as long as the replacement doesn’t require changing the plumbing structure of that space or changing the cold/hot shutoff valves. Permit requirement for relocating these fixtures, however, has to be determined on a case-by-case basis. The codes allow for relocation for up to ten feet within the same room/space, though there is a two-fixture limit.
Installing cabinets in the kitchen doesn’t require a permit. You can also add some built-ins to your apartment, like shelves, bookcases, and even wardrobes, to your NYC home without needing a permit.
Flooring & Tiling
You do not need a permit in NYC to tile or retile your bathroom or kitchen since it’s considered a cosmetic renovation. You can also resurface your floor or install a new wooden floor without a permit, though it’s recommended that you use a licensed contractor for the job.
Room Dividers (Not Flex Walls)
You can install room dividers like curtains or bookshelves to create a separation in your space without legally dividing the space into two rooms. These curtains are specially designed and may offer soundproofing as well (to an extent). Unlike flex walls, these room dividers do not require a DOB permit.
You can install a common window Air Conditioning Unit without a permit as long as it’s under three tons. However, you should hire a licensed contractor for installation. If installing an AC unit requires any changes in the existing electrical system or wiring, the contractor will need to apply for a permit.
Permit Exceptions For One- and Two-Family Dwellings
If you reside in a one- or two-family dwelling, you may be able to make the following changes/modifications without a permit.
- Erecting sheds that are under 120 square feet and less than seven-and-a-half feet in height.
- Building fences (under six feet).
- Building/installing a swimming pool no larger than 400 square feet. You will still need a permit for plumbing.
- Installing playground equipment on the premises.
Please note that even if you don’t need a permit, different condo and co-op buildings may or may not allow specific renovations or modifications to be done without approval. Always check with your management and board first if what you are doing could be questionable.