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Parking Garages Are the New Facades

So is it true that parking garages are the new building facades? New York State has issued a new rule that parking garages must be inspected, very similar to the Local Law 11 facade inspections in New York City. These garages need to be inspected every three years, and if your garage was built prior to 1984, your first inspection is due October 1, 2019.

What step do co-op and condo boards need to take to get ready for these inspections? The first thing to do is to find a professional engineer. The law stipulates it must be a professional engineer, experienced with structural conditions and structural evaluations. Finding that expert is not going to be easy. There are different types of garages, and boards need to find somebody with the right expertise who is familiar with the type of structure they have.

That expert is going to need a set of drawings, typically a floor plan and a reflected ceiling plan, because there can be damage not only underfoot but also overhead. That plan has to be in the engineer’s hands while he’s doing his inspection, so if owners do not have a plan or a set of drawings available, that drawing is going to have to be produced, and that takes time. The engineer is going to have to go out and measure the garage, draw up a representative sample of what it looks like, and then perform the inspection. And that could take a month of prep time – before the he even gets a chance to do the inspection. After he inspects, he writes a report. So you’re looking at probably a two-month period of time if no drawings are available.

So boards with older parking garages need to get busy right now? That’s correct. The state issued the minimum requirements, but it’s leaving the details to every local jurisdiction. So New York City’s Department of Buildings will issue its own rules and regulations, using the New York State requirements as a base line. Local jurisdictions can make the requirements more stringent, but not less stringent.

So we’re waiting to see what the DOB and other local jurisdictions are going to come out with. I’m sure there’s going to be some sort of a fining structure for being late. And local jurisdictions can add more detail to the reports that they want submitted. So they have a lot of latitude, as long as they meet the minimum requirements issued by the state.

So what’s the main thing boards need to be aware of right now? They need to know the age of their garage and the date they need to file by. So for a garage built prior to 1984, that date is October 1, 2019. If you have a newer garage, then you have more time. You’re into October 2020, or October 2021 for very new garages. So be aware of the date, put it on the calendar, and then work backwards from there to locate your engineer. And give that person enough time to do a thorough inspection, something that will satisfy the local Department of Buildings.

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