It happened in 2005, when a retaining wall at the Castle Village co-op in the Hudson Heights neighborhood in upper Manhattan collapsed, sending dirt and debris cascading onto the Henry Hudson Parkway. In happened again in 2014, when a retaining wall at the Hudson Courts co-op in Yonkers gave way, burying a northbound track on the Metro-North Railroad.
Partly in response to the Castle Village calamity, the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) launched the No-Penalty Deck and Retaining Wall Inspection program in 2010. Co-op and condo boards can call 311 and request a free inspection during the annual 45-day window, which opened on May 1 and closes on June 15. By law, all homeowners, including co-op and condo boards, are required to maintain their decks, porches, and retaining walls in a safe and code-compliant manner at all times.
Following the inspection, the DOB will notify homeowners of the inspector’s findings and whether or not the conditions observed pose an immediate safety hazard or warrant repairs. If immediate safety hazards are found, the DOB will withhold the issuance of violations for a limited time, giving homeowners the opportunity to make corrective repairs.
“Every year we see preventable accidents in our city that are direct result of improper home maintenance.” says Thomas Fariello, acting commissioner of the DOB. “Taking advantage of this free inspection program can be the first step to protecting not only you and your family, but your bank account as well. It’s a fact – conducting repairs following an accident is far more costly than properly maintaining your home in the first place.”
Since the No-Penalty Deck and Retaining Wall Inspection Program was launched, the DOB has performed hundreds of free inspections. The DOB encourages all New Yorkers to call 311 to report any unsafe conditions.
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