Rooftop terraces are a popular feature in many condominium buildings throughout New York City. These versatile spaces provide residents with a place to relax and socialize, and are often rented out for private events. However, it is essential to understand the legal capacity limits of these rooftop terraces to ensure compliance with city codes and regulations. Determining the maximum occupancy of a rooftop terrace is a straightforward process. Each legal rooftop terrace must be included in the building’s Certificate of Occupancy. This document includes important details such as the purpose of the space, maximum occupancy limits, and load limits. To access your building’s Certificate of Occupancy, you can visit the Department of Buildings website and navigate to the Building Information System or use DOB NOW for certificates issued after February 2021.
Determining the maximum occupancy of a rooftop terrace involves several factors. City regulations take into account the surface area of the space and the occupant load factor specified in the building code. Safety is a key concern, so rooftop spaces often have lower capacities compared to indoor areas. The width of the stairs is also taken into account to facilitate a quick evacuation in case of an emergency.
If the limits stated in your building’s offering plans seem lower than what is allowed by the city code, the board may have made the decision to restrict activity and noise on the rooftop or avoid additional costs associated with meeting requirements. As noted by Bruce Cholst, a partner at Herrick in Manhattan, the board has the right to impose restrictions.
If your rooftop terrace does not currently have permission, there is a solution. Hiring an architect or engineer to create plans for the space and obtain necessary city approvals allows you to legalize the rooftop terrace. After construction is completed, your building can receive a new Certificate of Occupancy that includes the rooftop terrace.
Remember that staying informed about the legal capacity and compliance requirements of your rooftop terrace is crucial. By ensuring that your rooftop space meets all necessary regulations, you can provide a safe and enjoyable environment for both residents and guests.