When Dorothy found her new home in Rye, New York, she was told she’d never be able to renovate without costly upgrades that would surely be demanded by Rye’s building inspector. Her 1930s colonial-style home would take thousands to be up to today’s standards in building code, warned the advising attorney.
Moving from New York City with her husband and two small children, they were seeking a new home with more space for their growing family. The house they found sat on a corner lot with enough room for future additions and the potential for a finished basement. While it lacked a much-needed first-floor powder room, they took the home in a whirlwind, selling their NYC home and buying their new home on the same day, which also happened to be the day before school started.
And that’s where Dorothy found her second opinion-at school in Rye. While dropping off their kids in the morning, Dorothy met Kelly Solon of Murdock Solon Architects and explained her desire to have a first-floor powder room, as well as her fears of costly additional updates required to obtain the building permit. She was told, she explained, that she may even need to add an expensive water sprinkler system. NYC architect Solon quickly put Dorothy at ease, explaining her home was likely grandfathered in and how the building permitting process actually works.
“It’s amazing to hear all the misinformation people have about the permitting process,” said Solon, who is both a NYC residential and commercial architect. “Rye is full of beautiful older homes that do require updates to meet today’s standards of living, and the city is typically willing to work with you on making these updates possible.”
As a partner at Murdock Solon Architects and an architect for more than 15 years, Solon has had tremendous experience working with building departments in New York City and the surrounding area, including her hometown of Rye.
“It’s simply a process,” said Solon. “But, it does help to get to know your partners in the cities. I’ve become well-acquainted with the building department in Rye and enjoy working with them to make our projects successful.”
Building permits for architecture updates, including residential and commercial construction and remodeling are required to ensure a minimum standard of quality to create a safe environment and to provide future protection for the next homeowners, should owners sell their home. In Rye, building permits are required for a variety of architectural improvements, including adding a deck, finishing out a basement or attic, and installing a fireplace.
Some home projects may not require a building permit, including repairs to a current building structure in sound condition, adding a retaining wall, or interior decorating and modernization, according to RyeNY.gov.
After Dorothy connected with Solon, they walked through the house to find the ideal location for the new powder room, which ended up being off the kitchen in an unused space previously utilized as a small desk for a rotary phone.
With the plans in mind, Solon walked Dorothy through the entire permitting process. Obtaining a building permit generally takes two weeks for interior projects and up to five weeks for exterior projects, according to the RyeNY.gov.
Not needing very much room, the powder room was a simple addition of two walls, a small vessel sink, plumbing, and pocket doors with a total of about 42” x 60” of space. Within two weeks after getting officially started, Dorothy had a new powder room perfect for her guests and children.
“The only stressful part was just getting the bad information from the lawyer,” said Dorothy. “That’s why it was nice that Kelly was a local mom and knew all the local regulations. It was a wonderful experience.”