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March 13, 2023

For many New York City homeowners and renters, subdividing apartments with temporary walls can be an easy way to maximize space. Many renters are familiar with “flex” units where a new bedroom is created with space taken from living areas. However, the legal requirements for these walls can be complicated, and homeowners and tenants should be aware of the challenges before proceeding.[1]

There are two common types of temporary walls in New York City condos, co-ops, and rental apartments: temporary pressurized walls, and partial walls.[2] Temporary pressurized walls look and feel like any other wall and provide a floor to ceiling divider with a standard door.[3] These walls may create the most complete division, but they also require the most burdensome legal approvals.[4] To build a temporary pressurized wall, usually you will need to file building permits with the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) and after completion, receive a new Certificate of Occupancy.[5] Both processes can take a significant amount of time.[6] Because of these procedures, it’s important to hire an experienced contractor for your temporary pressurized wall installation.[7] Failure to file legal permits can result in fines and can make your unit harder to sell in the future.

Partial walls are an easier option for many New Yorkers hoping to subdivide their space.[8] Partial walls are made from the same material as temporary pressurized walls.[9] The primary difference is that they must leave a gap of at least 12 inches between the top of the wall and the ceiling.[10] For some residents, such a gap would be unacceptable. But partial walls do not typically require any permits or certificates of occupancy.[11]

For either temporary pressurized walls or partial walls, it’s critical to speak with your building management.[12] Most landlords, management companies, condo and co-op boards require their approval before beginning construction, regardless of city permitting rules.[13]



[1] Street Easy, Everything to Know About Putting Up Temporary Walls in a NYC Apartment, Street Easy, (October 19, 2020), https://streeteasy.com/blog/temporary-walls-for-apartments/

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] PropertyClub, Flex Wall Guide: How to Build Temporary Pressurized Walls in NYC, PropertyClub, (August 15, 2022), https://propertyclub.nyc/article/a-guide-to-building-a-temporary-pressurized-wall-in-new-york-city#temporary-pressurized-walls-vs-full-walls

[5] Evelyn Battaglia, From 1 room to 2: The insider’s guide to temporary pressurized walls, Brick Underground, (August 24, 2022), https://www.brickunderground.com/blog/2011/12/From_1_room_to_2%3A_%20An_insider%27s_guide_to_building_a_wall_in_NYC

[6] PropertyClub, supra note 4.

[7] Battaglia, supra note 5.

[8] StreetEasy, supra note 1.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] PropertyClub, supra note 4.

[12] StreetEasy, supra note 1.

[13] Id.