Plan Review Process

A Building Permit Application Shall Be Examined to Ascertain Substantial Compliance with Code

Drawings must be filed digitally. The link is: https://buffalo.idtplans.com/secure/

Construction documents shall not be accepted as part of an application for a building permit unless such documents:

  • Are prepared by a New York State registered architect or licensed professional engineer where so required by the Education Law with a dollar value of $20,000 or more
  • Indicate with sufficient clarity and detail the nature and extent of the work proposed
  • Substantiate that the proposed work will comply with the Uniform Code and the State Energy Conservation Construction Code
  • Where applicable, include a site plan that shows any existing and proposed structures on the site, the location of the intended work, and the distances between the structures and the lot lines
  • The digital plans must include: One approved paper set shall be kept at the work site so to be available for use by the code enforcement official. To include:
    1. A description of the proposed work
    2. Assessed address 
    3. The occupancy classification of any affected building or structure
    4. Where applicable, a statement of special inspections prepared in accordance with the provisions of the Uniform Code, a copy of the property survey, and construction documents (drawings and/or specifications) that define the scope of the proposed work
    5. One approved paper set shall be kept at the work site so to be available for use by the code enforcement official. 

For more complex projects, the permit process as described will occur.

Step One - Registration and Application

After a digital filing, registration begins an application for a Building Permit; the property owner or his or her agent will work with a building inspector in the Permit Office to record basic information about the project. The inspector will determine which permits are required, how the proposed work should conform to the requirements of the City and State Codes, and whether any special approvals are required. 

A completely detailed plan will be reviewed and approved more quickly. If there is some question how Major Site Plan Review or other land use review will be approved, the digital plan filing may be only detailed enough to obtain land-use approvals. The building inspector at intake of the digital plans will assist. Routine construction or repair plans should be fully detailed so the reviews can proceed as quickly as possible.

The inspector and the owner/agent work on the digital Building Permit application. After checking that all prior required approvals have been approved, the inspector checks the digital plan submission to see if it is complete. Plans are required to be drawn by an architect or engineer licensed by the State of New York – a digital set and digital specifications and supporting documents as worked out in the Digital application. All information submitted for review must be identified with the correct assessed address. An original seal and signature of a NY.S -licensed architect or engineer is required on construction documents for all new buildings and additions, both regardless of cost; an original seal and signature is required for any repair, renovation, or alteration work upon any building or structure which involves changes affecting the structural safety and/ or public safety thereof, for most alterations, for all reconstruction work, and for most changes of use/occupancy. Construction documents for projects where costs exceed $20,000 must also bear the seal and signature of a NY-licensed design professional. All plans must comply with the Family of Building Codes of New York State. At this time - application - the non-refundable application and plan review fees are paid (first fee payment). 

The inspector at intake will detail the agencies which have review oversight on the project, and whose review approvals the owner or agent must seek.

Step Two - Obtaining Prior Required Approvals

This second step is carried out entirely by the project owner/agent; it is the owner/agent's sole responsibility to obtain all the approvals for their project that are required prior to application for the permit (Step Three). These prior required approvals are decided on by various offices related to and with oversight on the permit process; they have their own requirements for documentation, and in some cases, administrative fees as well. The owner or agent takes all the necessary steps to obtain all the prior approvals needed for their project, and the outside agencies communicate with the building permit office.

Step Three - Code Review

The construction documents will be simultaneously reviewed by the appropriate offices for code review in cycles. If at the beginning of the review process it is determined that the construction documents are of such quality that they do not adequately represent the parameters of or adequately illustrate the work involved in the project, the agent of record will be notified that the submission of construction documents has been rejected. The permit is suspended at this point, until a proper submission of construction documents is made. The digital review cycle is declined so plan review staff can call the applying design professional to discuss filing a new set of digital drawings.

The digital plan review process by Sewer, Electrical, Mechanical, Building Code and Fire Prevention is simultaneous. When the review cycle is complete, the designer will be notified by e-mail that the plans are approved, or revisions are required with specifics. 

Step Four - Permit Issuance

Permit Issuance: The Building Code Review Office will phone the agent of record when plans have been approved by all the appropriate Offices. The permit is not issued at this point and no work may begin. When all required Plan Review approvals are complete, the owner/agent (i n the case of work done by owner) or a city-licensed contractor can come in to room 301 to obtain the Building Permit. At this time the actual work cost is submitted if not already in, the permit/inspection/close-out fee is paid (second fee payment), and the permit is issued. With the permit posted so as to be visible from the street during the entire project, work may begin. When the permit is issued, the Client will prepare and forward a paper copy of the plans for the building inspector, and the digital copy will be stored by the City as permanent legal documents of record

Step Five - Inspections

Building Permit Inspections are required at various stages, depending on the nature of the project; typical inspections include:

  • After any accident or natural event which could have affected project
  • All Special Inspections called for by the project parameters and organized by the property owner or his agent
  • Building systems, including underground and rough-in; mechanical, electrical, plumbing
  • Concrete slab after pour
  • Concrete slab or under-floor formwork and rebar inspection
  • Energy Code compliance
  • Excavation inspection
  • Final inspection after all work authorized by the building permit has been completed (leading to a Certificate of Compliance or Certificate of Occupancy).
  • Fire resistant construction
  • Fire resistant penetrations
  • Foundation/footing after pour
  • Foundation/footing formwork and rebar inspection
  • Framing inspection
  • Insulation
  • Interior finishes
  • Lowest floor elevation confirmation (in flood plain districts)
  • M/E/P fixture installations
  • Proposed work which is a deviation from approved construction documents, or found work
  • Solid fuel burning appliances, chimney, flues, or gas vents
  • Work site prior to the issuance of a permit

The project agent is responsible for scheduling all inspections with the inspectors, including all Special Inspections, providing all Special Inspections reports to the field inspector, and collecting all closing documents at the end of the project and giving them to the field inspector. (See Closing Documents form)

Step Six - Closing Out Permit

After the final inspection is successfully passed, and all closing documents have been given to the field inspector, one of two documents can be issued to close the project: either a Certificate of Occupancy, or a Certificate of Compliance. These documents certify that the work has been satisfactorily completed and that the property is legally ready to be occupied as its Use/Occupancy.

Plan review contacts