Public Operations Center
347 Old Niskayuna Road
Latham, NY 12110-2290

Welcome Zoning Board of Appeals Agenda
Approved Electrical Inspectors Sign Review Board Agenda
What is Zoning? 2016 Permit Fee Schedule
When do I need a Permit? Online Forms
The New New York State Energy Code Frequently Asked Questions
The New New York State Building Code How to Contact Us
What Else Is New? Colonie Home Page


Welcome to the Building Division, for Fire Services Division CLICK HERE

Welcome to the Town of Colonie Building Division's Website. We hope you find it useful and informative. If you would like futher information, please call (518) 783-2706 or (518)783-2712 for further information.

The Building Division office is open daily 8 AM - 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday. The Building Department office is located on the second floor of the Public Operations Building on the corner of Wade Road and Old Niskayuna Road.

Our primary responsibility is to assist people in the Town of Colonie in complying with the Land Use Law as it pertains to zoning and the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code. Both of these laws are complex and frequently confusing.

At the end of our web page are Frequently Asked Questions that will hopefully clear up some of the questions, concerns or ideas, please call me anytime during business hours.

What is Zoning?

Zoning is the vehicle by which municipalities regulate the use of land within its boundaries. We use the Land Use Law and zoning maps in reviewing applications we receive. The Land Use Law lists the uses that are permitted in various zoning districts set up by the Town Board. The zoning map outlines where the particular zoning districts are. Copies of the Land Use Law and the zoning map are available at the Town Clerk's Office in Town Hall. The Land Use Law (Chapter 190 of the Code of the Town of Colonie ) is available on a link from the Town's home page (not the Building Department home page). Before you start your project, let us know what you're doing and where you want to do it and we can let you know if you're in compliance with our Land Use Law. If you are not, we can let you know what your options are.

When Do I Need a Permit?

New York State law mandates when a permit is required. It's easier to tell you when you don't need a permit. Some of the Frequently Asked Questions address this issue. Repair work; other than structural, electrical, plumbing do not require a permit. For example, if you are replacing the shingles on your roof, but not the plywood or rafters, a permit is not required. The replacement of siding is the same. Replacement windows, as long as the sizes are the same, do not require a permit. Storage sheds, even prefabricated ones, require a building permit. A building and zoning permit is required for a change in tenant of a commercial space, even if no construction is being performed. A residential change of tenant does not require a building permit. PLEASE NOTE: Building permits and Certificates of Occupancy will only be issued between the hours of 8 and 4.

How Long Does it Take and What Do I Need to Submit?

Type of Structure  Approval Time 
Residential (small addition) 1-3 weeks 
Residential (accessory structure) Deck, Shed, Pool  1 week 
Residential (new construction)  2-4 weeks 
Commercial  Varies 

A residential building permit application (one copy) must be completed. Two copies of the building plans must be submitted for all projects. If the project involves work, an electrical inspection application needs to be filled out. For the Commercial, Residential, and miscellaneous fee schedules, see the permit fee schedules at the top of this page . An architect's wet stamp is required on the building plans for any home or if the project costs over $20,000. Also for residential construction an architect's stamp is required for all additions over 300 square feet and any 2-story addition.

The New NYS Energy Code

Effective December 28, 2010 the new Energy Code for New York State became effective. It applies to all projects, residential and commercial, new buildings and additions and some additions that affect the building envelope. There are numerous methods showing compliance with the energy code. One method is using software developed by the Department of Energy.

New Building Code

Effective December 28, 2010 the revised 2010 building code went into effect for all construction in New York State outside of New York City. It affects all construction including residential and mechanical. It also has a Property Maintenance Code that affects all property including commercial.

What Else is New?

Effective with the new Residential Code of New York State is a requirement to add smoke detectors to existing bedrooms and outside of all sleeping areas and on every floor level of the dwelling whenever a building permit is issued. All smoke detectors are to be interconnected and hard wired. One exception to this is if sheetrock has to be removed to accomplish this, then battery operated smoke detectors may be substituted.

The Residential Code of New York State and the Property Maintenance Code of New York State require new and existing buildings to have premise identification. Buildings are to have address numbers placed in a position to be plainly legible and visible from the street. Numbers are to be 4" high with a minimum stroke of ½”.

A carbon monoxide alarm is to be installed in all new dwelling units and also those dwelling units offered for sale. Carbon monoxide alarms are permitted to be hard wired or battery operated.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.  Can I run a home business from my property?

A.  The Land Use Law permits a "customary home occupation” as long as

  1. There are no outside employees.
  2. No more than 15% of the residence is utilized.
  3. No deliveries or additional traffic results.
  4. No exterior signage exists on the property.
  5. There is no external impact to the neighborhood.

A good rule of thumb; if your neighborhood is impacted by your home business, it is probably not OK.

Q. Do I need a building permit to install a wood stove or fireplace insert?

A. Yes.

Q. How long is a permit good for?

A. 12 months for a residential permit, 24 months for a commercial permit.

Q. Why do I need a commercial building and zoning permit for a change in tenant if I am not doing any construction?

A.  A building and zoning permit is required by the Town Land Use Law. We inspect the tenant space to verify that it is still in compliance wit the Land Use Law and the New York State Building Code and that no changes have been made that would interfere with safe exiting or become a fire hazard. We then issue a Certificate of Occupancy for the new tenant. Insurance carriers and bank are increasingly requiring Certificate of Occupancy for tenants.

Q.  Is a permit required to build a fence?

A. No. However if you are installing an inground pool or a pool less than 48" above grade, then an enclosure, normally a fence, is required by the Building Code.

Q.  How many garage sales can I have in one year?

A. Garage sales are intended to be a means for homeowners or renters to rid themselves of unneeded household items. The Land Use Law limits garage sales to no more than three per 12-month period. However, when a homeowner or renter imports items for sale, then it is a violation of our zoning law, since it is the same as running a business from a residence. Refer to the Land Use Law for additional regulations. New York State also regulated garage sales according to the number and amount of sales before sales tax has to be collected. Any questions regarding collecting of sales tax should be referred to the New York State Tax Department.

Q. What are the requirements to obtain a building permit for an accessory structure i.e. shed, deck or pool?

A.  You must fill out a building and zoning permit application. It must be accompanied by 2 sets of scaled drawings showing how the structure is to be built. Pools obviously are exempt from the requirement of scaled drawings. Sheds, if pre-built, can be accompanied by the manufacturer's literature illustrating the construction. We also need 2 plot plans of the property lines and the dwelling. If you do not have a plot plan or survey of your property we may be able to help you. If you or the previous homeowner has applied for a building permit within the last 30 years, we may have a plot plan or survey of your property in our files.

Q. Is a building permit required for a generator

A. The Town of Colonie Building Department does not require a building permit for the installation of a natural gas or propane back-up generator if the residence has existing natural gas or propane service. If the residence has no natural gas or propane service, a building permit is required.

In both cases, a third party electrical inspection is required by one of the certified agencies listed below.

Q. Do I need a permit for solar panels?

A. All solar panels both Residential and Commercial and roof mounted and ground mounted require a building permit as of May 16, 2016. All ground mounted solar panels require the submission of a site plan.

In any case, a third party electrical inspection is required by one of the certified agencies listed below prior to the issuance of a Certificate of Compliance.

Q. Who are the approved electrical inspectors?

Please click here for a list of approved electrical inspectors.


Note: All the information on our web page is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for legal or other professional advice. You should not rely on this information in buying real estate or hiring a contractor without first contacting an attorney.

Contact Us

Mail: Department of Building and Fire Services
        Public Operations Center
        347 Old Niskayuna Road
        Latham, NY 12110-2286

Phone: (518) 783-2706 or (518) 783-2712

Fax: (518) 783-2772



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