NY State Appellate Court Hears Arguments in Case against NYC Department of Buildings for Circumventing Building Code & Safety Provisions

Concerns about Lego-Style Construction of High-Rises in New York

New York, NY – May 1, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division heard oral arguments on Thursday in the Mechanical Contractors V. NYCDOB, Case No. 13-10093, regarding controversy over whether the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) has the legal authority to ignore Building Code requirements when buildings are constructed modularly. This includes the largest Lego-style modular construction project in North America located at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards (now rebranded as Pacific Park), a 32-story, 363 unit residential building.

Mechanical Contractors Association (MCA) of New York, Inc. and Plumbing Foundation City of New York, Inc.
commenced litigation versus New York City’s Department of Buildings in 2013, charging that it ignored New York City plumbing and fire safety code requirements for developers who use modular construction. The lawsuit alleges that DOB violated the clear language of the code which requires that only licensed master plumbers and licensed master fire suppression contractors can perform plumbing, gas, and fire suppression work.

The DOB ruling allows gas work to be performed by unlicensed personnel not only in 10-story and greater residential and commercial buildings but also New York City hospitals and eldercare facilities.


In December 2011, DOB assured the licensed trades that off-site modular work would have to comply with the existing Building Code requiring that the work be performed by employees of licensed firms. Within a month of that meeting, Department of Buildings issued a draft bulletin requiring that a licensed plumber and fire suppression contractor attest that off-site plumbing, gas and sprinkler work comply with the code.

DOB later retracted the bulletin, and developers were permitted to move forward without being required to employ licensed master plumbers and licensed fire suppression contractors at the factory.

Licensed master plumbers are trained and qualified to ensure that the City’s gas piping and medical gas piping is properly welded, so that the public can be protected from gas leaks that lead to explosions. Similarly fire suppression systems must be installed by licensed fire suppression contractors. These licensed contractors install systems that automatically detect and then control, suppress, or extinguish fires quickly, helping prevent fatal accidents. Allowing unlicensed assembly line workers to install this important fire safety equipment without the supervision of licensed contractors could result in serious injury or fatalities.

The case is: Mechanical Contractors Association of New York, Inc. and The Plumbing Foundation City of New York Inc. (Petitioners) for a Judgment Pursuant to Article 78 of the CPLR – against –
New York City Department of Buildings in the Supreme Court of New York’s Appellate Division (First Department)

Index. No. 100993/13

Mechanical Contractors Association of New York & Plumbing Foundation City of New York
About Publisher / Author (for new publishers) The Mechanical Contractors Association of New York, Inc. (MCA) is an organization formed to foster the Mechanical and Sprinkler Contracting Industry in New York City and Long Island. MCA is designed to promote the welfare and development of the heating, piping, air conditioning and fire suppression industries.

Established in 1986, The Plumbing Foundation City of New York is a nonprofit association of licensed contracting firms, engineering associations, manufacturers and suppliers whose mission is to ensure the public health through the enactment and enforcement of safe plumbing codes.

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