Certificate of Occupancy: What is a CO?

Certificates of occupancy (CO) determine whether a building is suitable for living or working. The primary purpose of a CO is to:

  1. Dictate a structure’s function. Functions of a structure can include residential, retail, commercial, or industrial properties.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

 

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