New building codes in New York City

For the construction industry, it’s officially time to say goodbye to the old New York codes. The 2008 New York City Codes went into effect across all five boroughs on July 1.

The first major modernization of the city’s building codes in nearly 40 years; the 2008 New York City Codes are based on the 2003 International Building, Plumbing, Mechanical, Fuel Gas, and Fire Codes. The codes can be purchased from the International Code Council at

“Any code that’s designed to protect the public safety in a way that developers, homeowners and others in the building process can understand is a breath of fresh air,” said Rick Bell, FAIA, Executive Director of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) New York Chapter.

Bell explained that adopting the new codes in New York City is important for several reasons, but especially because more firms in New York are practicing nationally, even globally. The new codes, he said, coordinate better with those used in other jurisdictions.

“Codes at home were so different from codes in every other city in the land,” Bell said. “Bringing the International Building Code to New York provides greater flexibility and comparability. It means that now, when architects move to work in New York from other areas, they’ll be trained and familiar with how to look up the code. That’s very important.”

“It’s interesting because one of the things I’m finding when I look at a lot of the reference standards is they’re all modern reference standards,” said Ernie Conrad, P.E., LEED, AP; Principal of Landmark Facilities Group and Board Liaison for professional members at Building Owners and Managers (BOMA) New York. “What a thought!”

Conrad explained the new codes reference modern standards that incorporate updated scientific data.

“The new codes reference a more recent edition of the AISC [American Institute of Steel Construction] Steel Construction Manual, enabling architects and engineers to use updated formulas and properties when designing in steel,” said Gary Higbee, AIA, Director of Industry Development for the Steel Institute of New York.

The 2008 New York City Codes also include updated materials acceptance criteria. As long as a particular material or equipment meets the necessary laboratory approvals–often already nationally attained–specifiers won’t have to resubmit it through New York’s materials acceptance program.

Higbee added, “This important feature and its associated changes will facilitate using new products and materials–something widely considered to result in construction savings and enhanced occupant safety.”

“It was a magic day when New York City officially started using the I-Codes,” said Conrad. “The city is getting safer; no question about it.”

To purchase your own copy of the 2008 New York City Codes, visit the International Code Council website at or call 1-800-786-4452.

The International Code Council, a membership association dedicated to building safety and fire prevention, develops the codes used to construct residential and commercial buildings, including homes and schools. Most U.S. cities, counties and states choose the International Codes, building safety codes developed by the International Code Council.

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