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Time is Running Out

Co-op and condo boards facing mandatory parking-garage inspections this year: Circle Nov. 1 on your calendars.

That’s the absolute latest date boards can hope to hire a Qualified Parking Structure Inspector to inspect their garage and file a report with the Department of Buildings (DOB) in time to meet the looming Dec. 31 deadline. Under Local Law 126, all parking structures must be inspected every six years, and the city is divided into three two-year cycles. Under the current inaugural cycle, buildings on the Upper West Side and south of Central Park must file inspection reports by Dec. 31.

“We’re going to have a crunch at the end of the year,” says Jason Damiano, a senior structural engineer at Rand Engineering & Architecture and a city-sanctioned garage inspector. “It takes about eight weeks from the time a board hires an inspector until the report gets filed with DOB. With the year-end holidays, you should try to file by mid-December.”

Which means boards should get busy even before Nov. 1.

Under Local Law 126, much like the Facade Inspection and Safety Program (formerly known as Local Law 11), garage inspections will produce one of three results: Safe, Safe with Repairs and/or Engineering Monitoring (SREM), or Unsafe. With a Safe rating means no work is required. If a garage is rated SREM, the board must make repairs before the start of the next inspection cycle, or the rating will automatically become Unsafe. If a garage is rated Unsafe, the affected areas must be shut down and repaired within 90 days.

The cost of garage repairs can range from a few hundred dollars for replacing a missing railing up to six figures and even upward of $1 million for major structural work. A chief cause of deterioration is moisture and de-icing agents that get into cracks in concrete, which can lead to spalling, corrosion of steel rebar and a loss of structural integrity. One way to avoid major repairs is to install a waterproof membrane on horizontal surfaces, which costs from $5 to $25 per square foot.

“We recommend waterproofing as strongly as possible,” Damiano says. “If you put a waterproof coating on surfaces, you can avoid having to do structural repairs in the future. You’ll be doing a maintenance program on the coating instead of a repair program on the structure.”

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