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NYC Building Code - Recreational Roof

Dan.Ruzeu

So an issue that has never come up before has been brought to my attention with respect to occupied roofs - ie recreational roofs.

As per BC 1509..8.1 any roof used for recreational purposes requires a 10' wire fence.  In other words a guard rail is not sufficient.  This item is in every BC since 1968, which would mean that just about every building I'm seeing out the window with an occupied roof should have a 10' fence around it - but this is just not the case.

1509.8.1 Fences on roofs used for recreational purposes. Rooftops used for recreational purposes shall be provided with wire fencing at least 10 feet (3048 mm) in height. Openings in the fence shall not permit the passage of a 4 - inch diameter (102 mm) sphere. Where ball games are played on rooftops the wire fencing shall be extended to provide an overhead closure.

 

Is 90% of the city non-compliant on this issue?

 
Apr 7, 15 4:50 pm
Define "recreational purpose."

Does occupied roof equal recreational purpose?
Apr 7, 15 5:33 pm  · 
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awaiting_deletion

To answer your last question the answer is yes but not 90% and not for the reasons you think.......see comment above.

Apr 7, 15 5:39 pm  · 
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Dan.Ruzeu

It would seem that yes- the city defines recreational purpose as any use other than mechanical/unoccupied.  

I'm really stumped on this one as the ONLY fenced roofs I see are usually on schools or buildings with ball related activities at the roof level.

Apr 8, 15 10:45 am  · 
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null pointer

That also brings some funny zoning-related issues when you count rec. decks as permitted obstructions on the roof....

Apr 8, 15 10:47 am  · 
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awaiting_deletion

The shores explanation is you are reading the code wrong and qualifying the spaces incorrectly. The DOB and FDNY are getting stringent on roof use but your understanding of recreational space and occupancy and use are in short not correct. Other than that hire an architect or a code consultant ;)

Apr 8, 15 11:14 am  · 
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You still haven't defined "recreational purpose." And the statement, "it would seem that yes," is not the same as "yes."

You're taking an ambiguous phrase and applying a specific meaning. Without a definition to establish that meaning, you can't make a claim that there is any code compliance nor non-compliance.

Where terms aren't defined in the code, "terms shall have ordinarily accepted meanings such as the context implies.

Dictionary definition of recreational is "done for enjoyment." (source)

Who am I (or a code official, or inspector, or government) to say whether or not people go out on their roof for enjoyment or some other purpose? 

Less philosophically, the occupancy classification may be one that includes recreation. From what I can see, A-3 is the only group that specifically states recreation in its description. However, the code would most likely not be interpreted this strictly ... especially if looking at the broad dictionary definition of recreational. 

Where is the issue coming from. You mentioned it has never come up before, but was recently brought to your attention. I work on projects in NYC here and there and it would be nice to know how this gets resolved. 

Apr 8, 15 12:58 pm  · 
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vado retro

unless you're building an outdoor court on the roof, you want 1509.8

Apr 8, 15 4:07 pm  · 
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Glenn1441

Caught this thread a bit late, I suppose, but I have a question. I rent in Williamsburg from a family who lives on the premises -- very large lot, and unusual considering that I live in what was once a two story, single family house located behind the main building, which occupies the street and in which my landlord lives. The building directly next door was recently purchased in the spring (2015) and renovated. Two DOB permits were posted to the building's facade during construction. Sure enough, those are the only two permits requested of and granted by the DOB. The building in question possesses a street level commercial space, with four two bedroom units, comprising two upper stories, above. However, the commercial space was extended, apparently years ago, further into the backyard area. This extension naturally has a roof and the roof is, I believe, tar with recently painted silver-reflective paint. Two weeks ago (early July 2015), I heard voices and looked over the separating wall between the two properties (via my landlord's brick 'balcony' that is legal and up-to-code) and saw that the entire roof above the commercial space has been railed off, to the edges, with what appears to be black, powder-coated steel guardrails and a staircase leading to the backyard, and ultimately, the backdoor entrance of the ground floor hallway. A deck was not built. The surface of the roof remains the same -- tar covered, painted with reflective silver paint. Checking the DOB Web site, I unsurprisingly discovered that a permit to construct this space was not requested or issued. The tenants, young twenty-somethings, have placed a large propane grill (yes, they are illegal in such a circumstance) on the roof, along with chairs and tables. Again, this roof is but inches -- not feet -- away from the retaining wall of my landlord's property. We filed a complaint with the DOB, naturally, and have informed the tenants, in the meantime, that propane grills are illegal in such instances, and until the investigation ensues, they cannot simply use the space as they want, without regard to neighboring buildings. All to no avail. We've called the building manager, who told us to call back when he had more information from the owner. No contact since. Our concern is ultimately this -- because a permit was not requested, my landlord was never given the opportunity to protest the creation of a recreational space that she feels interfere with the quality of life for her tenants in the rear. The rear portions of many of these buildings simply amplify noise, and already, tenant use of the rooftop space next door creates a level of noise that can be heard within our own apartment units and interferes with our legal right to use our apartments in relative peace and quiet. Do regulations exist that prohibit such rooftop spaces to be build as concerns neighboring properties? 

Jul 19, 15 8:07 pm  · 
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null pointer

I'll bill you a flat fee for the answer.

Jul 19, 15 9:05 pm  · 
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awaiting_deletion

hourly $200/hr

good luck.  this is a new world for the DOB, even they don't always know...check out the updated FDNY fire code for 2014 on this subject...

Jul 19, 15 10:04 pm  · 
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midlander

you seem to be taking a very indirect route to get some result here. Have you tried going over to the neighbors' apartment and asking them to quiet down? Maybe bring cookies or something.

If that doesn't work, call the police, make a noise complaint.

The use of building codes as prophylaxis against everyday nuisances is a fairly stupid and suburban approach to managing conflict. Deal with the people, not the by-laws.

Jul 19, 15 10:28 pm  · 
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awaiting_deletion

midlander this is NYC.  you need a lawyer to do your dry cleaning.

Jul 19, 15 10:31 pm  · 
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gruen

Oh wow. what's the problem? that someone is having fun bbq'ing on their roof? you live in NYC and are complaining about noise? I thought noise was part and parcel of living in NYC, at least every time I've been there. 

I agree, make friends w/these people and ask nice if they'll keep it down. 

Jul 20, 15 6:53 pm  · 
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Glenn1441

In response to comments posted by 'gruen' and others...

I am 51-years old and have lived in NYC continuously since 1982. Noise is indeed part of life in the big city. Traffic, automobile horns, music blaring from cars, sirens, etc. -- all become white noise.  But noise emanating from property located within less than a foot of your own building and property is another thing altogether, particularly when that noise interferes with one's legal right to use one's domicile in relative peace and quiet. The inference that it is I or my landlord and co-tenants who are being unrealistic or unreasonable -- or that perhaps we simply want to interfere with our neighbors 'fun' --  is utterly ridiculous and infantile. My landlord and her family live on the premises and have owned this property for 40-years. Naturally we have attempted to speak several times with the neighboring tenants, asking them to understand that after 10pm, their parties interfere with our needs -- such as sleep, etc. Our request is certainly reasonable. Depending on the tenant, we have met with mixed responses. Some understand completely and are willing to cooperate, while others turn their back on us as if their party or get-together supersedes 'good neighbor' conduct or city noise codes. We have also attempted a discussion with the building manager, to no avail, and in any case it became clear that he is clueless regarding city building, fire and noise codes, as well as tenant safety, etc. Indeed, our warnings about the illegality of the propane grill have gone unheeded. Propane grills are forbidden by law in NYC as they are a serious fire hazard. And our concerns extend beyond noise -- the roof in question is quite small, flat and coated with tar, and coves an extension of the ground floor commercial space not original to the building. Since a permit to alter that roof for recreational use was not sought -- and it is indeed necessary to have such a permit and post it publicly during construction or renovation -- we are very concerned about stress and load to that roof, as well as potential fire hazards and damage to the retaining wall between the properties. What happens next door in any potentially dangerous or disruptive scenario within NYC can indeed affect neighboring buildings. You only need read the papers to understand that, particularly when the issue is a fire. The DOB has accepted our complaint and the the status is currently active. The complaint was assigned a status of Priority B, which is comforting considering the breadth of the DOB's responsibilities in a city as large as NYC, and in this case, its largest borough. And since our conversations -- that's plural -- with the building manager and tenants have been unproductive, we have submitted a complaint with our local community board to be aired and discussed during its next meeting, less than a month away. The board is voluntary, but meetings are also attended by borough council members, and the board has a great deal of influence dealing with situations such as this. Nobody, regardless of where they live, wants to deal with the loud noise of neighboring parties, etc when they are trying to sleep, or to enjoy their own residence -- regardless of their age. And nobody is unreasonable or uncool because he or she is concerned for a possible fire hazard or building damage due to a rooftop construction that was built without the necessary permits. I am a reasonable person who is well aware of my tenant rights, and the rights of others, and I will pursue this matter via the appropriate agencies -- that's what makes me a New Yorker. 

Jul 26, 15 2:56 pm  · 
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germansent

I totally agree with you, as it is frustrating when some terds start cramping out the already tight space and causing unnecessary nuisance and hazards. I see the worst things going on in Williamsburg lately, and question the legality of many of the projects, permitted and not. I hope you were able to resolve your situation, any update?

Apr 13, 21 6:14 pm  · 
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null pointer

You are in Williamsburg.

If you want peace and quiet there are forty other neighborhoods where you want get it you'll pay lower rent, for more space, in 35 of those.

This fucking sense of entitlement is why I have no sympathy for you. I hear my neighbors bang once a week, through my wall - do I give a shit? nope. i find it amusing. it's part of living in a city.

 

Also, when was the last time you heard of a fire starting with a propane gas grill? If it happens once a year in a city of 4 million, we are already winning over suburbia.

 

You're being a NIMBY idiot, no matter how you paint it.

Jul 26, 15 3:22 pm  · 
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Glenn1441

Ad-homonym attacks are always revealing concerning the character and intellect of those who initiate them. Entitlement? Yes, I am entitled, and not because I've lived in NYC for 33-years, and not because I have contributed substantially to the art and culture of this city throughout the '80s and '90s. Laws and codes exist in NYC for a reason, and everyone is entitled to benefit from those laws, regardless of the neighborhood in which they live. And so I will continue to pursue what I am entitled to under the law. All the best to you. Truly.

Jul 26, 15 4:21 pm  · 
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null pointer

do my attacks sound like other attacks? are they homonyms?

Jul 26, 15 6:19 pm  · 
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that's what makes me a New Yorker

Nah, what makes a New Yorker is a 600 odd word paragraph written the same way it would be spoken - without taking a breath.

Jul 26, 15 7:07 pm  · 
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awaiting_deletion

btw propane tanks are illegal, you are to have an actual gas connection.

Jul 26, 15 7:55 pm  · 
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Apurimac

I get NB approvals in NYC every other week now and I've never seen 1508.1 enforced unless there's ball games going on on the roof.  Roof rec space has more to do with the Zoning Resolutions under Quality Housing than anything in the BCs in the eyes of your typical NYC plan examiner.

Yes propane tank grills are verboten in NYC, but honestly isn't it better just to extort free BBQ off the next door neighbors and be neighborly about it?  Glenn1441, you live in Williamsburg for Christ's sake.  Take that NIMBY bull to the UES or the West Village at least dude - it's not like they're pricier neighborhoods anymore.  Brooklynites love fucking around on their rooftops.  If you don't like that, get the fuck out of Brooklyn!  

Jul 31, 15 6:31 pm  · 
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null pointer

What Apurimac said.

Including the NB thang.

Jul 31, 15 6:42 pm  · 
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awaiting_deletion

glenn for $10k forensic review and $400 hr i will invent a new niche in nyc and you will be the first to pay for this kill joy. the commissioner will have to issue new memos and bulletins and the world will change. living in nyc will get even more ridiculous but I WILL be rich. thanks....seriously about to offer a continueing Education class for this in NYC I really could make this a business and those prices are real.....now do you really want to do this?

Jul 31, 15 10:30 pm  · 
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johnkupcha

Propane Gas Barbecues

Propane gas barbecues are generally not allowed in most residential building’s outdoor space as the NYC Fuel Gas Code states that it’s illegal to store a standard backyard propane barbecue on a balcony, roof deck, roof or yard. A “standard” propane barbecue uses 20-pound liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) containers, which cannot be stored on roofs. You may use a propane tank smaller than 16.4 ounces for a short time on a roof or balcony. For a one- or two-family home, a propane barbecue grill is permitted as long as no more than two 20 pound LPG tanks are stored and/or used.

Sep 29, 17 11:45 am  · 
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JLC-1

taste of charcoal bbq is better anyway

Sep 29, 17 12:20 pm  · 
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tintt

My neighbors burn leaves. Dopes.

Sep 30, 17 11:08 am  · 
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jairieramírez

If the Building was built prior 1968, and had an Alt-2,  they don't  need to include the terrace like an accesory space in the DOB , that's for new Buildings. With the 10' height fence is enought.

Jun 29, 19 10:51 pm  · 
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Most rules & regulations pivot on their defined terms. The NYC BC does not define "recreational purposes".  As such, it is open to interpretation.  In practice, roofs in the city with chain link fences contain ball fields or courts.  As such, it is reasonable to assume (until the code is further clarified) that "recreational purposes" in this context is sport, not general occupation, sunning, dining.... 

Apr 18, 21 6:27 pm  · 
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