Builiding and Fire Services

Paul Shepard, Manager

Public Operations Center
347 Old Niskayuna Road
Latham, NY 12110-2286

(518) 783-2706 or (518) 783-2712
(518) 783-2772
Email Us

Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Welcome to the Building Division

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.

Welcome to the Fire Services

Welcome to the Town of Colonie Department of Building and Fire Services. The Fire Services Division performs various inspections related to New York State Building Code and enforces the Open Burning Policy for the Town of Colonie.

Go to:
- Smoke Detectors
- Carbon Monoxide Detectors
- Emergency Access System
- Emergency Operations Plan
- Mobile Fire Safety Bus
- Fire Services Fee Schedule
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Helpful Links

Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors are life-saving devices which should be installed in every home! The following are some frequently asked questions about smoke detectors:

  1. How many smoke detectors do I need in my home?
    A minimum of one (1) detector is needed on every level and one (1) in every bedroom.
  2. Where do I install smoke detectors in my home?
    You must refer to the manufacturer's instructions for proper installation.
  3. My smoke detector keeps going off and there's no smoke or fire. What's wrong?
    Cooking vapors and steam sometimes set off a smoke detector. Try moving the detector farther from the kitchen or bathroom. Replace the battery if the detector is chirping.
  4. Does my smoke detector require any care or maintenance?
    Refer to manufacturer's instrctions for proper care and maintenance.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors

What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, toxic gas produced as a by-product of combustion from items such as fuel burning appliances (i.e. non-electric furnaces, fireplaces, gas stoves, dryers, or water heaters, charcoal grills), automobiles, and gasoline powered tools (i.e. lawnmowers, snow blowers).
Carbon monoxide poisonings typically occur when appliances are improperly used or malfunctioning and there is a limited amount of fresh airflow to ventilate the gas build up. Regular maintenance and inspections of gas burning equipment in the home can minimize the potential for life threatening CO buildup or exposure to occur; however the potential always exists.
Where should CO detectors be installed?

There are many conditions that can cause a carbon monoxide detector to alarm. Most are preventable and few are actually life threatening. Common causes of preventable activations include: inadequate fresh air venting of the home, running gas powered equipment in the home or garage, charcoal grilling in the home or garage (including your automobile,) malfunctioning appliances or equipment in the home, a generator or kerosene heater running in a home, or a malfunctioning or overly sensitive alarm. Non-preventable or unpredicted causes may include, but not be limited to: cracked furnace heat exchanger, malfunctioning furnace, water heater, or other gas appliance, blocked chimney, vehicle left running in a garage, or a gas powered device placed near a fresh air vent to the home.
When a CO detector alarm activates…

  1. Stay calm!
  2. Assess health and wellbeing of anyone in the household. Flu-like symptoms such as headache, dizziness, fatigue or nausea are the most common early symptoms to CO exposure.
    • If there is illness, evacuate the premises immediately, go to a safe place, and have someone call 911. Be sure everyone (including pets) is out of the house and the doors are closed. (Closing the doors allows fire department personnel to monitor for the presence or levels of CO before ventilating.)
    • If no illness is present, likelihood of a serious exposure is diminished.
  3. If no illness is present, it is still important to have the source of the alarm activation investigated. You should dial 911 or contact Niagara Mohawk and advised them that your alarm has activated, but no one is ill. Do not open any windows or doors so that when monitoring personnel arrive, they will be able to quickly check your house, verify if there is a problem and locate the source. Very often the failure of an appliance is a gradual event. This failure may produce low levels of carbon monoxide. If gone unchecked, the failure may become worse and reach life-threatening levels.

Calling 911...
If you call 911 for a carbon monoxide alarm activation, be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your telephone number
  • Whether or not anyone is ill with the "flu-like" symptoms previously described
  • Whether or not the residence has been vacated
  • ...and be sure to follow any emergency instructions you may be given by the emergency dispatcher.

Based on the information you provide, appropriate emergency response personnel will be dispatched to your location; fire department personnel to monitor for CO gas and advise if a carbon monoxide problem exists, emergency medical personnel to treat any victims, and law enforcement personnel to assist with evacuation if needed.

Emergency Access Systems

The Town of Colonie has recognized the importance of providing the Town's Emergency Services rapid entry into locked buildings. An Emergency Access Systems law provides for the placement in secured, locked containers of keys to important areas within a structure and information that may be vital and necessary to the health, safety and welfare of the occupants and responding emergency crews. For detailed information about the requirements for keybox placement, please click here.

Emergency Operations Plan

Download the Emergency Operations Plan.

Mobile Fire Safety Bus
"Stay low below the smoke." "Stop, drop, and roll!" "Get out! Stay out!" "Test your smoke detector."

These are just a few of the many things people will hear when they visit the Town of Colonie Mobile Fire Safety Bus. This newly completed fire house travels to the schools and other community events throughout the Town.

The Safety Bus is a mobile fire safety education classroom that is being administered by the Town of Colonie's Department of Building and Fire Prevention. The "classroom" is a retired school bus vehicle donated by the South Colonie School District which has been refurbished to resemble a residential home complete with a living room and fireplace, a kitchen with a stove and microwave, and a bedroom that can be filled with simulated smoke. This will enable participants, children and adults alike, to learn about the various aspects of fire safety in a homelike atmosphere, thus enhancing the learning process.

This project has only been possible through the many generous donations received from local businesses and social groups (such as the PTA) throughout the community. Donations have been materials, labor, or money used to "bring this project to life." The house's construction is the result of the cooperative efforts of many, including workers from the Albany County Jail's Work Alternative Program.

We encourage everyone from preschoolers to senior citizens to take a few minutes and go through the Fire Safety Bus when you see it set up near you. You might be surprised at what you learn -- and maybe even save your life.


For Further Information About the Mobile Fire Safety Bus, Please Call 783-2712 or 783-2706

Fire Services Fee Schedule

Download the Fire Services Fee Schedule.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I dispose of household hazardous waste?
Please contact the Town of Colonie Landfill directly at 783-2826 or refer to the manufacturer's product label for disposal instructions.

Fire Prevention:

United States Fire Administration
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

Fire Prevention for Kids

Sparky's Homepage

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.

New Regulations and Requirements

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.

Building Board Agendas

For the Zoning Board of Appeals Agenda click here.

For the Sign Review Board Agenda click here.

Permit Fee Schedule

Download the latest Fee Schedule from our Document Center page.

Online Forms

To download the Building Department forms visit our Document Center page.

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.

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.
New York State law mandates when a permit is required. It's easier to tell you when you don't need a permit. 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.
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 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.

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

List of approved electrical inspectors:

Commonwealth Electrical Inspection Service Inc.
4 Westview Rd.
Troy, NY 12182
(518) 238 - 2229
Middle Department Inspection Agency
1741 Route 9
Clifton Park, NY 12065
(518) 273 - 0861
New York Atlantic-Inland, Inc. (Devin Pratt)
997 McLean Rd.
Cortland, NY 13045
(518) 857 - 6235
(607) 753 - 7118 (Office)
The Inspector, LLC
5390 State Route 11
Burke, NY 12917
(518) 481 - 5300
Dave Neer
Northeast Electrical Inspections
65 Albermarle Rd.
Scotia, NY 12302
(518) 852 - 0826