DOBNow Required for Most Filings
As of July 1 the Department of Buildings has started the mandatory use of its DOBNow filing system for nearly all but Architectural, Foundation and SOE filings.
Under this new system, applicants are required to have separate independent filings for most work types. For example, where before it was possible to file a New Building application with Architectural, Structural, SOE, Fence, Mechanical and Plumbing work types, it is now necessary to file the NB with just Architectural and SOE work types (including the foundation plans but not the superstructure plans), and each of the remaining work types as stand-alone DOBNow applications which will be assigned to separate examiners. The same is true for Alteration Type 2 filings under which only the Architectural work types may be filed. It appears the Department is also moving towards a system where examiners will be subject matter experts (i.e. there will be specialized mechanical examiners and specialized structural examiners). The DOBNow filings are 100 percent electronic uploads which allow for examiners to be located in any of the 5 boroughs, without regard to where the work is taking place. A robust and effective communications system between applicants and examiners has not yet been established, which might make communications difficult at this time.
Frankly, we do not yet know the complete impact of the broader application of the DOBNow system and whether it will make things faster or slower, easier or harder. Unfortunately, the accelerated release of this change on the industry occurred without a great deal of input from filing representatives, leaving a lot of questions and issues unanswered. The industry as a whole is learning and reacting as more projects are filed through this system. In this context, we are recommending that our clients stick to the traditional formatting of application groups and approaches to filing even within the DOBNow system to the degree that it is possible. By limiting the changes being forced at one time, we hope to make the transition easier.
We realize that some of this may be unsettling. However, rest assured we will work closely with all our clients to get past this. Everyone in our industry is struggling with these changes and we will make every effort to make this as uncomplicated and painless as possible. We have developed a number of tools that we would be happy to share with our clients to assist with the transition. Our project managers will provide these on an as-needed basis. Should you have any questions regarding the new process, please do not hesitate to reach out.