Bathroom Renovation Codes NYC

by | Last updated Jul 30, 2023 | Apartment Renovations, Multifamily Residential, Renovations

A bathroom in a multifamily building must comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act and be an accessible bathroom if the apartment is in an elevator building or on the ground floor of a walk up building. A bathroom renovation in NYC most likely will need to comply with accessibility requirements.  There are many codes and protocols for bathroom renovations in NYC in addition to accessibility.


NYC ADA bathroom Requirements

The following is based on New York City Rules for multifamily residential buildings that are subject to accessibility requirements for their residential units.

  • Type A Bathroom
  • Appendix P Bathroom
  • Prototype Bathroom
  • Non ADA Bathroom

Type A Bathroom

A Type A Bathroom is the highest level of Accessibility for People With Disabilities for Residential Units. The Type A bathroom requires a 5 foot turning radius as well as specific clearances for fixtures, doors, and accessories. If an apartment has a Type A Bathroom the other bathrooms do not have to be fully accessible, but they must still comply with certain minimum standards.

Appendix P Bathroom

Accessible bathrooms in residential units that are neither Type A or Prototype Bathrooms must comply with Appendix P of the NYC building Code. These Bathrooms are refereed to as Appendix P Bathrooms after the Code section. The primary difference between an Appendix P bathroom and a Type A bathroom is that a Type A requires a 5 foot turning radius and an Appendix P does not. The Appendix P bathroom is based on clearances for the fixtures, doors, and accessories. It does not have any minimum size for the bathroom as long as all the components are in compliance.

Prototype Bathroom 

In NYC a prototype bathroom is a bathroom that complies with pre-approved bathroom layouts in accordance with RCNY 1101-01. The prototypes only apply to residential units in buildings first occupied before March 13, 1991. For an apartment to comply with the prototype bathroom layouts it must strictly follow the dimensions as prescribed in the rule.

A prototype bathroom can be modified with one additional fixture if the toilet, lavatory, and sink all follow the prototype rules. An additional fixture can be somewhat outside the requirements but certain restrictions will still apply.

Non ADA accessible Bathrooms

Certain bathrooms will be grandfathered as non accessible bathrooms. If you are doing minor repairs on the bathroom you can keep the original layout but making any changes to the size, shape, or layout of the bathroom should trigger accessibility requirements. Non accessible bathrooms still have code requirements that apply to them although they may be less strict.

  • One and Two Family homes are not subject to accessibility requirements.
  • Secondary Bathrooms in an apartment with one Type A bathroom are not subject to full accessibility but must still comply with certain requirements.

Accessible Bathroom Design

The Type A bathroom will be the most accessible and largest bathroom. The next largest will be an Appendix P, and the prototype will be the smallest accessible bathroom.


Minimum Bathroom Size NYC

NYC Building Code Bathroom Size

New York City codes do not set a minimum bathroom size. The bathroom size will be affected by code requirements but there is no specific standard. ADA Accessibility, design, door location, fixture types, and many other factors will affect the actual bathroom size. Complying with codes is a balancing act, there is rarely one code that answers a question, but many different codes that must be in balance to create the final solution. Prototype Bathrooms do have specific sizes but they will not always apply and not all bathroom layouts will work as a prototype.

People often ask me what is the minimum bathroom size. Looking for a minimum bathroom size is looking for an easy answer to a complicated question. All bathrooms must be assessed on their individual merits.


Bathroom Codes NYC

In addition to accessibility, bathroom renovations in NYC must comply with plumbing codes, constructions codes, ventilation, fire rating, and many other codes.

Residential Bathroom Code Requirement

Bathrooms renovations are typically more complicated than people expect. Always work with licensed and insured professionals. All work on your apartment should be to code. Construction and Plumbing codes are there to protect you and the other occupants in your building.


Additional NYC DOB Bathroom Requirements

Bathroom Ventilation NYC

Bathrooms must have ventilation either from a window or mechanical ventilation. A bathroom does not require both but one or the other, although you can have both. The window must be a certain size in proportion to the size of the bathroom and must be an operable window in order to qualify for ventilation. Otherwise a mechanical exhaust fan that exhausts to the outside of the building will be necessary.

Fire Stopping for Bathrooms

All penetrations in the floor, ceiling, and fire rated walls (including walls dividing apartments) must have fire stopping around penetrations. Fire stopping is a material used to close openings to prevent the spread of fire. In my experience this is the most overlooked aspect of construction. The NYC DOB requires a “Special Inspection” for Fire stopping. If you find penetrations that were not previously fire stopped you are now responsible for the fire stopping. In most cases within apartment renovations we find that the previous fire stopping was either done poorly or not done at all.


Do I Need a Permit to Renovate My Bathroom in NYC?

Any significant change to a bathroom will require filling for permits with the NYC DOB this is typically done with an Alteration Type 2 (alt 2). If the work is in a Landmark Building you will also need to file with LPC. You will need a Registered Architect to file an Alteration Type 2 with the NYC DOB. As an the apartment renovation architect I file bathroom renovations as Directive 14 where the architect can perform the final inspection of the work themselves. You can see other posts we wrote on filing an Alteration Type 2 with the NYC DOB and filing apartment renovations in Landmark Buildings.


Bathroom Renovations in SRO Buildings

Changing the layout, configuration, or location of a bathroom in an SRO Building requires a Certificate Of No Harassment in order to get permits.


Bathroom Codes NYC

As an architect I study codes closely. NYC Codes and protocols are complicated and quite involved. In this article, we reviewed some of the basic issues with regards to Residential Bathroom Codes in NYC. This analysis does not assume to cover every possible issue or condition, but provide a general overview.


Thank you for reading our blog post on Bathroom Renovation Codes NYC.

I hope this was helpful. Please leave questions and comments below. If you would like to speak with an architect you can contact us directly.


Contact Fontan Architecture


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.