The Wet Over Dry Rule for NYC Renovations

by | Last updated Jun 26, 2023 | Apartment Renovations, Construction Practices, Renovations

When renovating an apartment, there are many rules and regulations to comply with. Everyone knows there are building, plumbing, and electrical codes to follow. There are also rules dictated by individual building management companies, Condos, and Co-Op Boards that will affect your renovation. The most notable is the Wet Over Dry Rule.


What is the Wet Over Dry Rule in NYC?

“Wet Over Dry” is a rule that some buildings impose that prohibits the creation of new wet areas, such as bathrooms or kitchens, where on the floor directly below, there is a dry area, such as a bedroom or living room. Wet Over Dry is not a building code but a rule that individual buildings choose to uphold.

I am Jorge Fontan, an architect in New York and owner of Fontan Architecture, a Manhattan-based architecture firm. At our office, we work on many different project types including Co-Op and Condo apartment renovations. In this post, I will discuss the “Wet Over dry” rule and its implications on apartment renovations.


Is Wet Over Dry a Building Code?

Wet over dry is not a building code. It is only a rule that some building boards and management companies impose. Not all buildings in New York have this rule, but many do. The Department of Buildings has no restriction on wet spaces over dry spaces in New York, provided the wet rooms have proper waterproofing and are otherwise code compliant.

Having a wet area over a dry area in a building is perfectly legal. The Wet Over Dry rule prevents you from adding any wet areas if directly below, the proposed wet area, there is a dry area. So if you plan on adding a bathroom to your apartment, but the bathroom would be above a bedroom below, you will not be able to do this in a building that imposes the Wet Over Dry Rule. Some buildings make exceptions for non-habitable spaces, such as wet areas over closets and hallways.

Since we are discussing a building rule, you should read your building’s Alteration Agreement before considering your apartment renovation. Some buildings are more flexible than others in their rules, but this one is quite strict in most cases. You can read another post we wrote to learn more about Alteration Agreements in NYC.


Examples of Wet Over Dry

  • Adding a Laundry Machine or laundry room over an existing dry space.
  • Enlarging or adding a bathroom over a dry area.
  • Enlarging a kitchen.


What Does Wet Over Dry Mean?

If you plan to add or expand a wet area, such as a bathroom, kitchen, or laundry, over an existing dry area, your building can raise objections to your renovation.

As an architect working on renovations in NYC, we always want to figure these rules out early in the process. Every building in New York is different, and they all have their own rules.


Manhattan Bathroom Renovation

Manhattan Bathroom Renovation


Apartment Renovation Rules in NYC

There are many different rules involved when renovating an apartment. It is always best to understand these rules early in the process. The building management and board typically review apartment renovations. You will need their approval before commencing work.


Thank you for reading our blog post on Wet Over Dry Rule In NYC.

I hope this was helpful. If you want to speak with an architect, contact us at Fontan Architecture 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.