11:30 PM 01/07/2013
I'm currently looking at house in Brooklyn that has an extension on it. I don't know if the extension is legal as the owners do not have any documentation on the extenstion other than a survey that was done when they bought the house. The extension was built before the current owners bought the house in the late 50's and there are currently no known violations on the property.. I have checked with the DOB and the file for the property appears to be missing. Has anyone had experience with older extensions and do you know if the DOB will recognize it as legal extension because of its age? Also, at what year is a property considered grandfathered in? Thank you in advance for your help.
Recently, the DOB has scrutinized what many people view as "existing" or "grandfathered" extensions. In our experience, unless you can show on a Sanborn map dated prior to 1938 that the extension already existed OR have sufficient documentation to prove that a work permit was obtained to legally build it in 1950, you will have a very hard time proving its legality. Surveys are of no help in this matter. Be careful of what a realtor may tell you about this. They do not always understand the DOB's perspective.
Do you believe that the extension violates current zoning laws? If not, you may just be able to file the necessary paperwork to legalize it, but it will be an uphill battle. Current building codes could require certain upgrades that you may not want to invest in, and most likely the extension does not meet them.
We've worked on a few projects like this and usually our clients are forced to demolish the extension and rebuild it to current codes.
Sorry to be a "downer", but I wouldn't want to sugar coat the issue.
11:44 PM 01/07/2013 | -1 Votes
arch_tect - to what extent is the DOB scrutinizing these extensions? Is it in cases where you're pulling permits for large scale renovations on the house (and the extension) where you run in to this?
I would assume that although the DOB has become stricter and more difficult to deal with in recent years, if OP or anybody else with an extension (or a deck, etc...) that has been there for years or decades can let sleeping dogs lie - unless you're bringing DOB in for inspections as part of a big project, or you have feuding neighbors who want to call 311 out of spite.
11:02 AM 01/08/2013 | 0 Votes
But you didn't explain what your plans for that extension are. If you don't mess with it, there's no reason to be concerned you'll have to remove it. Certainly you can do upkeep repairs to maintain it. As far as any additional electric or plumbing work, in my mind it'd be what you could get away with inside your building without permits (all to code of course).
11:03 AM 01/08/2013 | 1 Votes
as far as I can tell from my very un-scientific survey (mainly looking out my back window), pretty much every brownstone on my block seems to have one of these - in verying states of up keep. Was there ever a time when perhaps no permits were required for this type of work?
12:37 PM 01/08/2013 | 0 Votes
catboot, i don't think there's anything special about these add ons in Bed Stuy but basically virtually ALL reno work in Bed Stuy has been done with permits and a large amount of it still is. My entire house was renovated (elec, plumbing, etc) without permits (but it all met code). Also, most decks are without permits and the lion's share of them don't meet code.
2:37 PM 01/08/2013 | 0 Votes
Most of the "extensions" I've seen were built with the house originally. At least this has been the case in Bed Stuy and Harlem. Maybe it varies depending on the architectural style of the neighborhood.
8:07 PM 01/08/2013 | 0 Votes
Thank you all for your input! We're not planning to do anything major to the extension other than some updates to plumbing/electrical. I should have been more clear with my question and didn't see the exact tags when posting it. We are trying to find documents for the extension because it may come up during the bank inspection. I'm sure you all know that banks are more strict with their lending and we just want to be prepared.
I will be sure to check out Brooklyn Public Library or the Brooklyn Historical Society. Thanks again for your help.
7:30 PM 01/09/2013 | 0 Votes