By Anessa V. Cohen

Although five months have passed since “Superstorm Sandy,” many of those affected are still working their way back to repairing and rebuilding the damage left behind. Although we all want to get things fixed and repaired as fast as possible, we also must be cautious to not get so focused on getting the job done so fast that we skip important steps–making sure that the work is being carried out in a safe and sound manner and according to various building department codes and procedures.

The Town of Hempstead Building Department has put out some helpful instructions on their website ( I would like to point out a few of the items that they listed since not everyone realizes that they should be coordinating their repairs and renovations with the building department in their jurisdiction (this includes the Town of Hempstead as well as the Village of Cedarhurst and the Village of Lawrence, to name a few).

Although the individual building departments are allowing a lot of time to get required permits and file other paperwork related to storm damage, all storm-related repairs still must be checked to see if additional inspections or permits are needed to legalize all the work being done. The following are some of the examples offered by the Town of Hempstead Building Department:

What should I do if my heating system was damaged by the storm?

You must hire a Town of Hempstead licensed plumber to repair and/or replace the equipment. Please note that it is the plumber’s responsibility to file a plumbing permit with the town on your behalf. All plumbing fees have been waived for storm-related permits until June 1, 2013.

What should I do if my electrical system was damaged by the storm?

You must hire a Town of Hempstead licensed electrician to repair and/or replace the equipment. Upon completion of the work, the electrician is required to provide you with an electrical inspection certificate that you will need for your records.

How do I know what kind of permits I may require?

Consider bringing photos of your damage to preliminary meetings you might have with the Plan Examiner to research the existing records of the Building Department and help you determine what permits are required.

Typically most homes that have sustained water damage in excess of two feet of depth on the first-floor level will require an architect or engineer to certify the safety of the structure of the dwelling. If you have sustained more than two feet of water damage, you are not required to have a preliminary meeting with a Plan Examiner provided that you obtain a report from your architect or engineer indicating the scope of work and structural safety of the dwelling.

When is a building permit required?

A building permit shall be required for any work which must conform to the Uniform Code and/or the Energy Code, including, but not limited to, the repair, construction, enlargement, alteration, improvement, removal, relocation or demolition of any building or structure or any portion thereof. This would include the removal and replacement of sheetrock and insulation.

When is an architect or engineer required in the permitting process?

An architect or engineer is required to be on record for any permit that either involves the structure of the dwelling, or exceeds $20,000 in construction costs. Only an architect or engineer is recognized by New York State as being qualified to make an assessment of the safety of the structure of the dwelling and make recommendations for its repair.

I have to complete paperwork for a Small Business Administration loan. What do I need to do?

If you are applying for an SBA loan you must obtain a permit from the town for the repairs to your dwelling. After you obtain the permit the town will complete its portion of the SBA form.

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No one wants to do work only to find that there will be a problem afterwards because a permit was not taken out or inspections were needed and not done. Take the time to call and find out exactly what paperwork is necessary to take care of your repairs properly and legally.

The Town of Hempstead Building Department is open 8:00 a.m.—4:45 p.m. and is located at 1 Washington Street in Hempstead (corner of Peninsula Boulevard). Their phone number is 516-538-8500.

The Village of Cedarhurst phone number is 516-295-5770 and the Village of Lawrence is 516-239-3987. v

Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker and a licensed N.Y.S. mortgage broker with over 20 years of experience, offering full-service residential and commercial real-estate services (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and mortgaging services (First Meridian Mortgage) in the Five Towns and throughout the tri-state area. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to


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