Development Architect NYC

Development Architect NYC

(Last Updated On: December 20, 2019)

New York City is a complicated place for property development. NYC Zoning and Building codes are complicated, as well as filing protocols. A property development architect in NYC should be familiar with NYC Zoning, Building Codes, Protocols, Construction Methods, and of course building design.


Property Development Architects in NYC

A good architect can help you every step of the way in property development.


Steps to Developing a Property In NYC:

  • Zoning Analysis
  • Acquire a Property
  • Feasibility Study
  • Budgeting
  • Comps
  • Proforma
  • Hiring an Architect
  • Building Design
  • Construction Documents
  • Filing With DOB
  • Bidding
  • Permits
  • Construction
  • Inspections and Sign offs
  • Certificate Of Occupancy


Zoning Analysis

At our architecture firm, we often produce a zoning analysis for developers before they purchase a property. In our office, a zoning analysis will typically be a ten page report (give or take). The zoning Report will include:

  • General Property Information
  • Zoning Calculation
  • A written conclusion in layman’s terms.
  • A breakdown of building floors with proposed square footage and use
  • Massing Diagrams and Site Plan

The zoning analysis prepared by the architect is a proof of concept to determine what can be built. This is not a building design. NYC rules and regulations are very complicated. I highly recommend you hire a property development architect in NYC who is very familiar with the NYC Zoning Resolution. If you would like to read more about zoning, we have another blog post on Zoning Analysis.

Acquire a Property

You can acquire a property before or after performing a feasibility study and zoning analysis. I do recommend you consult with an architect before you purchase a property for development.

Feasibility Study

Most real estate developers will do an in-house feasibility study to determine if the proposed development makes sense. This includes zoning, budgeting, comps, and concludes with a proforma.


It is never too early to talk with an architect or contractor. Experienced real estate developers have a good sense of realistic budgets for a building development in NYC. A property development architect in NYC should be familiar with the going rates of construction based on quality, size, and use. Your budget is preliminary, but you want to start off with a reasonable budget. Be careful of low balling the budget.


‘Comps’ or ‘Comparables’ is the process of looking at other developments of similar type in the area and seeing what they are selling or renting their space for.


A Pro Forma is the projected return on investment for a property development. The Pro Forma uses the floor area from the zoning analysis and the proposed budget to establish the hard and soft costs of the development. The Comps and projected sales or rentals will determine the return. Combining the two issues gives you the potential profit.

Hiring an Architect

You can hire your architect at any time. The development architect can be hired step by step or all at once. Go to our homepage to learn more about our New York Architecture Firm Fontan Architecture.

Building Design

An architect will design the building developing design schemes and reviewing your requirements and budget. This is a process with a lot of back and forth. As an architect, my advice is to do a little thinking upfront about what you want and communicate as best you can with your architect.

Construction Documents

After the building design is complete the architect and engineering team will produce a set of construction documents and filing drawings. These will be reviewed by the Department of Buildings and used by the contractor for construction.

Filing With DOB

The architect will prepare documents and drawings to be filed with the NYC DOB. This is a process, so please be patient and understand this takes time. I highly recommend hiring an architect in NYC who is familiar with the protocols. The DOB will issue an approval but this could take time depending on the project complexity.


After the construction drawings are prepared, you can put the job out to bid. Contractors will review the drawings and provide a cost estimate for the work. They may also issue Request For Information or RFIs during this process. The property development architect will respond to all RFIs and potentially issue additional drawings.


After the contractor is hired, he can pull permits from the NYC DOB. You must have DOB approval before permits can be pulled. Once the contractor has a permit, they can begin construction.


During construction, the development architect will periodically visit the job site but does not supervise construction. The architect will answer questions and generally make sure the building is being built according to the approved plans.

Inspections and Sign offs

There will be many inspections and tests on the job. Some inspections are performed by the NYC DOB or other city agencies but most are done by private companies. You development’s architect may perform the “progress inspections” themselves, but you will hire a “special inspection agency” to perform most the inspections.

Certificate Of Occupancy

At completion of the project, you will receive a Certificate of Occupancy after all inspections and sign offs are complete. Once you have the Certificate you can lawfully occupy the building. We have another post, if you want to read more about getting a Certificate of Occupancy.


Development Architects in NYC

In this article, we reviewed some of the basics with regards to Property Development Architectural Services in New York. This post does not assume to cover every possible issue or condition, but provide a general overview of the topic.


Contact Fontan Architecture


Thank You for reading our blog post on Development Architects NYC.

Please feel free to leave questions or comments below. We hope this was helpful. If you would like to discuss a specific project please contact us directly.


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