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Your Building May Be Taller Than You Think

Six stories could be seven. The Facade Inspection and Safety Program, as most New York City co-op and condo board members know, requires owners of buildings taller than six stories to inspect and repair their facades every five years. We’re finding that some buildings that are six stories tall at street level have a basement above ground level in the back, making the buildings seven stories tall in the eyes of the city. So those buildings fall under the FISP program.


Tighter enforcement. That wasn’t the case in the past, so why are they suddenly being snagged now? Given recent incidents of pedestrians being injured — and in some cases killed — from falling bricks and masonry, the Department of Buildings has increased inspections and enforcement. So buildings that typically had been overlooked are now being required to comply with the inspections law. One of those six/seven story buildings we manage wound up having to do $300,000 worth of facade work.

Take the initiative. Walk around your building, and inspect the actual number of stories at each facade. If you believe the building might fall under FISP, immediately engage either an architect or an engineer for a very quick, preliminary inspection to make sure there are no immediate hazardous conditions. I also encourage boards to not only make sure they have a healthy reserve fund but also put money away every year for capital projects. I would also recommend that they do a five- or 10-year capital plan to make sure they’re properly funded for unexpected expenses.

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