New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine June 2020 free digital issue

HABITAT

BUILDING OPERATIONS

HOW NYC CO-OP AND CONDOS OPERATE

Facade Inspections to Get Stricter – and More Expensive

New York City

Facade inspections, sidewalks sheds, qualified exterior wall inspectors, Department of Buildings.

Thanks to new city rules, the cost of facade inspections is rising for many buildings.

Jan. 30, 2020

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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