Abutting Building Definition

by | Last updated Feb 6, 2021 | NYC Zoning

Abutting buildings are buildings with walls touching or close enough to touching that they are considered abutting by building codes. Buildings with a seismic separation are still typically considered abutting.

Buildings that are touching or only have a seismic separation between them are considered abutting. According to the New York City Zoning code, any buildings within 6 inches of each other are considered abutting if they were built before February 2, 2011. Buildings can abut another building or can abut a property line. The rules apply to both situations.


NYC Zoning Code Abut, Abutting Definition:

““Abut” is to be in contact with or join at the edge or border. “Abutting” buildings are buildings that are in contact with one another on the same or another zoning lot, except as subject to separations required for seismic load as set forth in the New York City Building Code. A building may also abut a lot line. In addition, for buildings existing prior to February 2, 2011, such existing building shall be considered abutting if it is within six inches of a lot line or another building.”


Why does it matter if a building is abutting?

The Zoning and Building code has different regulations for different situations. There are certain codes that will apply to abutting buildings and that will apply to non abutting buildings. You would need to first understand this classification before knowing what code will apply.

Example of abutting building zoning code:

In certain Zoning Districts, yard requirements can be waived for abutting building. New York City requires side yards for some zoning districts for example R5 Zoning. If you have a building in an R5 Zoning District, it must have a side yard unless it is abutting another building. This means if the neighbor’s building is on the property line, you can build against your neighbors wall. If the neighbor is not abutting the property line, then you must provide a side yard that can be up to 8 feet depending on several factors. This is a major issue especially with narrow lots.

Abutting Regulations and Codes

As an architect, I study Building and Zoning Codes closely, but these are complicated and quite involved issues. In this article, we reviewed some of the basic concepts with regards to the NYC definition of abutting. This post does not assume to cover every possible issue or condition, but provide a general overview of the topic.


Thank you for reading our blog post on Abutting Walls and Abutting Buildings.

I hope this was helpful. If you would like to speak with an architect about a potential project you can contact us at Fontan Architecture directly.


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Jorge Fontan

Jorge Fontan

This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 20 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.