THE NYC "APARTMENT HOUSE INTERCOM" BUILDING CODE PROPERLY EXPLAINED

THE NYC "APARTMENT HOUSE INTERCOM" BUILDING CODE PROPERLY EXPLAINED.

“What exactly constitutes a ‘New York City, Building Code Legal ​Intercom system?” The short answer is a locked front entrance door with a door release, a vestibule push button panel to call every apartment and a hard wired intercom station for every tenant/apartment unit.

Below is the NYC Intercom, Lobby Door and Lobby Door Lock building code #1 RCNY §42-01 To view or print a copy, click this link ​http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/buildings/rules/1_RCNY_42-01.pdf

CHAPTER 42 ENTRANCE DOORS, LOCKS AND INTERCOMMUNICATION SYSTEMS

§42-01 Entrance Doors, Locks and Intercommunication Systems.

(a) Bulkhead doors and scuttles shall have no key locks and shall not be locked by a key at any time. The only permissible and acceptable means of securing a bulkhead door or scuttle is by means of a movable bolt or hook on the inside.

(b) Section 15.10(n) of the current departmental rules and regulations in its last un-numbered paragraph provides as follows: “All passageways required under these rules shall be not less than seven feet (7’0”) in height and not less than three feet (3’0”) in width and shall at all times be kept clear and unobstructed. Doors and gates at the end of such passageways are prohibited, except that a door or gate equipped with an approved-type knob or panic bolt which shall be readily openable from the inside will be permitted at the building line. Doors and gates provided with key locks or padlocks are prohibited.”

(c) Where an entrance door leading from a vestibule to the main entrance hall or lobby is equipped with one or more automatic self-closing and self-locking doors, the entrance door from the street to the vestibule need not be equipped with automatic self-closing and self-locking doors.

(d) Every entrance from the street, court, yard or cellar to a class A multiple dwelling erected or converted after January 1, 1968 containing eight or more apartments shall be equipped with automatic self-closing and self-locking doors. Such multiple dwelling, as aforesaid, shall also be equipped with an intercommunication system to be located at the required main entrance door.

(e) On or after January 1, 1969, every entrance from the street, court, yard or cellar to a class A multiple dwelling erected or converted prior to January 1, 1968 containing eight or more apartments, shall be equipped with automatic self-closing doors and self-locking doors and shall also be equipped with an intercommunication system.

(f) Every self-locking door required under this section shall be installed and maintained so as to be readily openable from the inside without the use of keys.

(g) The minimal devices acceptable for the inter-communication system shall be a bell or buzzer system, or a speaking and listening device to permit communication by voice between the occupant of each apartment and a person outside such required main entrance door, and a return buzzer mechanism to release or open the lock to the aforesaid required door.

(h) The bell and intercommunication system shall be located at the required main entrance door so that a person may readily reach the door when the unlocking buzzer is activated.

(i) No push button device shall be more than six feet from the floor and the speaking and listening device shall be installed to be not less than four feet and not more than five feet from the floor.

(j) The device or devices for the intercommunication system installed in the apartment shall be readily accessible to the occupant.

(k) The device or devices for the intercommunication system installed hereunder shall be of a type and kind approved by the Department of Buildings or previously approved by the Board of Standards and Appeals.

(l) Devices which have been previously installed and which are in good condition and performing in an adequate manner may, in the discretion of the department, be accepted.

To help clarify the code, the Building Department was asked to define the word “device”.

The 2014 code is an updated version of the 1968, to take into consideration a concierge or doorman type device, instead of a typical entry lobby panel device. However, both versions basically say the same thing as it pertains to what is actually required inside each apartment. These codes call for a "device or devices". We in the intercom industry have been struggling for some time, especially because of the new technologies, as to what the definition of a "device" actually is.

1. When the building code says "device" that mean a physically installed device on the apartment wall? 2. When the building code says "device" that mean a separate intercom only station? 3. When the building code says "device" that mean a hard-wired "telephone type" device can be used? 4. When the building code says "device" that mean a wireless "cell phone type" device can be used? 5. When the building code says "device" that mean a device like a wireless tablet can be used?

Basically, we are trying to find out exactly what types of "devices" are approved for use in NYC, since these devices changed a lot from 1968 when this code first went into effect. Any assistance or clarification you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

The Building Department response is below, relevant items are ​highlighted.

Good morning,

Please note that the most recent version of the New York City Building Code (BC) is the 2014 edition, available for viewing on the Department’s website - ​http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/buildings/rules/1_RCNY_42-01.pdf

However, the applicable governing language of the current code appears unchanged from the 2008 BC:

“1008.4.4 Intercommunication system. Buildings containing eight or more dwelling units shall be provided with an intercommunication system located at the door giving access to the main entrance lobby, consisting of a device or devices for voice communication between the occupant of each dwelling unit and a person outside the door to the main entrance lobby, and permitting such dwelling unit occupant to release the locking mechanism of said door from the dwelling unit. In buildings provided with a full-time lobby attendant, the intercommunication system may be between each dwelling unit and the attendant’s station.”

1. ​The building code governs the design, construction, and maintenance of buildings and fixed elements which are integrated components thereof. Unless otherwise indicated, and within that context, ​it is clear that the term “device” should be interpreted as one that is permanently installed within the dwelling unit.

2. ​The code describes a minimum requirement for a system which consists of a device or devices. The system must allow for voice communication between the occupant and the person outside and for the occupant to release the lock at the entrance lobby from within the dwelling unit. The code does not require that these functions be integrated into one device, nor does it prohibit any other functionality, such as video capability, etc.

3. ​As long as the “telephone type” device satisfies these minimum code requirements, it would be permissible. But of course a loudspeaker device could also be acceptable.

4. ​It’s unclear what you mean by “cell phone type device”. If you mean that the building occupant could install an application on their cell phone, then no, that would not satisfy the requirement. Again, the code would not prohibit this as an additional function, ​but an app on a cell phone could not satisfy the minimum code requirement.

5. ​Again, an app on a tablet would not be prohibited, but could not satisfy the building code requirement. To your point, there have been many advances in technology since the 1968 building code was first published and they may certainly benefit the convenience of the occupant. However, these advances have not alleviated the need to satisfy the minimum requirement for voice communication and the ability to release the locking mechanism.

Thank you, The Construction Codes Team ConstructionCodes@buildings.nyc.gov NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF BUILDINGS 280 Broadway, 7 ​th ​ Floor, New York, NY 10007