Just in time for the start of the city's 9th cycle of the Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP) on February 21, 2020, the Department of Buildings (DOB) has published a new amended rule aimed at increasing safety and holding negligent building owners accountable, RAND Engineering & Architecture reports. In the wake of architect Erica Tishman's death from a piece of falling terra cotta in December plus recent cavity-wall failures, it's more critical than ever for co-op and condo boards to maintain their facades in safe condition.
Here are the most significant changes. Additional hands-on inspections are now required, changing the previous minimum requirement from one full-height hands-on inspection per building to one along every 60-foot interval of street-facing and public right-of-way-facing facades.
During every odd-numbered cycle (that is, cycles 7, 9, 11, etc.), probe investigations are required along every 60-foot interval of cavity-wall facades, to check for the presence and condition of wall ties.
A facade condition certificate, similar to an elevator inspection certificate, must now be displayed in the lobby.
Experience requirements for Qualified Exterior Wall Inspectors have increased to a minimum of seven years of relevant experience. Anyone involved in the inspection process must have either three years of relevant experience plus a bachelor's degree in architecture or engineering, or five years of experience if lacking the degree.
The penalty for failure to file has increased from $1,000 to $5,000. The penalty for late filing is now $1,000 per month. Owners who fail to correct an Unsafe Condition face a $1,000 per month penalty plus an additional monthly penalty based on the linear footage of sidewalk shed. A new civil penalty of $2,000 will be assessed for failure to correct Safe with a Repair and Maintenance Program conditions by the next five-year cycle.
The bottom line should come as no surprise: the cost of facade inspections is going up for many buildings.
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