High real estate prices and dense urban construction mean that residents of New York City often seek usable space in their homes and apartments wherever they can find it. Rooftops, including those in boroughs such as Brooklyn, offer space for constructing rooftop decks that add recreation area. However, city and neighborhood laws place restrictions on Brooklyn roof decks that property owners need to be aware of.
Permits and Zoning
Adding a roof deck to a building in Brooklyn may be as simple as constructing a wooden frame and floor that allows residents to set up patio furniture and enjoy outdoor space. However, even this relatively minor alteration requires a building permit from New York City's Department of Buildings. To get a permit you'll need to submit plans that show that your rooftop deck meets all applicable zoning laws. Building a deck in Brooklyn without a permit may subject you to fines and force you to remove the deck whether it's partially or fully completed.
Access and Obstructions
New York City's fire code is more than 600 pages long and includes a number of provisions that apply to all structures in the borough of Brooklyn. One important provision for Brooklyn property owners with rooftop decks involves firefighter access to the roof. Unless the building is more than 100 feet tall, it may not include fixed obstructions, such as billboards or air conditioners, that are not easily moved. This ensures that firefighters can use rooftops to perform rescue operations and extinguish fires in the building or others nearby.
The New York City Fire Code also states that Brooklyn residents can't install propane grills on rooftop decks of any kind. Likewise, it is a code violation to use any type of grill, including an electric or charcoal grill, on a rooftop deck in Brooklyn if there are any combustable materials within 10 feet. This includes combustible wood in the deck's surface and nearby combustable patio furniture. Mobile non-propane grills are permitted on a Brooklyn roof deck if they comply with this portion of the code.
All Brooklyn rooftops are subject to the regulations imposed by New York CIty. However, buildings in any of Brooklyn's special zoning districts are also subject to further regulation. This is true of buildings in Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue, Bay Ridge, Coney Island and Franklin Street neighborhoods. While not all special zoning districts in Brooklyn have policies that impact roof deck construction or use, these zones do have rules that go beyond citywide policies and require residents to check with local authorities before proceeding with rooftop projects.
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