Certificates of occupancy (CO) determine whether a building is suitable for living or working. The primary purpose of a CO is to:
- Dictate a structure’s function. Functions of a structure can include residential, retail, commercial, or industrial properties.
- Determine if the structure is suitable for occupancy. Structure is suitable for occupancy so long as it complies with all standards and codes related to its function.
- Make sure a structure complies with building codes.
While requirements for COs may vary depending on location, they are typically needed in a number of different instances, which include:
- New construction.
- Property conversion – when the function of a building changes. The Residences at 66 High Street are an example, as the history industrial Mill Building was turned into residential units.
- Change of ownership.
- Major construction – Any construction that changes the occupancy of the property or alters the entrance or exit of the property.
Certificates of occupancy are ultimately awarded if the structure passes a number of inspections, which include plumbing, electrical, fire safety, and general building.