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Published: Spring 1995

The following article appeared in the Spring 1995 issue of CNYC's quarterly Newsletter. You must be a member of CNYC to receive the complete Newsletter, which features timely articles on issues of importance to cooperative shareholders and condominium unit owners. Click here to reach the CNYC Membership Registration Form.

Facade Inspections Required by 1997

CNYC thanks Kurt Rosenbaum for the following guest article on Local Law 10 facade inspections. Mr. Rosenbaum is a professional engineer specializing in structural issues for cooperatives and condominiums. He is a principal in the firm of KRA Associates.

Local Law 10 has returned. This New York City law, passed in 1980, requires an inspection every five years of all facades within 25 feet of public walkways in buildings six stories and higher. The current cycle of Local Law 10 reports must be filed with the Department of Buildings (DOB) on or before February 21, 1997. The DOB has been accepting filings since February 21, 1995.


the law requires inspection to be done by an engineer or architect who holds a valid license in state of new york using form provided city. covers all areas exposed pedestrian traffic, such as street-facing facades and walls not directly facing street for up 25 feet from street.

The inspection is visual, meaning that ordinarily walls need not be opened to determine what is behind them. The professional uses high-powered binoculars to observe the building from the street, and when possible from the roof, accessible ledges, selected setbacks, and terraces.

The regulations require the professional to describe the building very briefly, including its location, lot and block numbers, the number of floors in the building, and general construction (i.e., load-bearing walls, cavity walls, etc.), stating whether and to what degree repair requirements reported in the prior Local Law 10 report were completed.

There are three reporting "grades" of building condition:

1. Conformance to Code means there are no deficiencies that need to be repaired or addressed.

2. Precautionary Conditions indicates that deficiencies exist, but they are not serious to the point where physical harm to pedestrians would normally result. For example, most pointing requirements fall into this category.

3. Hazardous Conditions covers anything possibly endangering the safety of pedestrians passing by the building. Examples are loose bricks, ornamentation that is defective, loose, or ready to fall off, and severe and open cracks that could cause shifts of the facade.

Obviously, there is nothing to be cured when your professional finds that all conditions conform to code. However, the law does require you to address both "precautionary" and "hazardous" conditions. Here are some guidelines that generally apply:

  • "Precautionary Conditions Work" means that some repairs, such as pointing, repairs to flashings or lintels, and sills are needed. The wisest boards do the work as soon as possible as a precaution against these conditions getting worse, when they could require far greater expense to cure, or might even turn into hazardous conditions. Interestingly, these so-called precautionary conditions often lead to, or may already have produced, leakages into the building.
  • "Hazardous Conditions" must be addressed by law without delay. In fact, the DOB will sort out any report citing hazardous conditions and call the building's attention to the need for an immediate cure. Fines could result, as well. Usually, the DOB allows 30 days to effect a cure, although extensions for cause are given frequently.

The professional must report any hazardous condition. If the building immediately takes steps to address the problem and to safeguard danger to pedestrians, your engineer might defer filing an adverse report, but only for a very short while. Installing a sidewalk bridge is a necessary first step, with adequate repairs being undertaken quickly thereafter.

Should you have your Local Law 10 inspection done as soon as legally allowed, or should you wait for the deadline two years from now? Early inspections are usually recommended for several reasons, including:

  • Forewarned is forearmed. If work does need to be done, isn't it best to know this now before things get any worse? The work can then be scheduled when it is most convenient and budgeted when finances will be less of a problem.
  • If hazardous conditions exist, they should be addressed before a more serious problem develops.

Your professional should show you his findings and discuss them with you before filing the report. You will probably find it interesting to learn more about your building and about the causes of any problems which may exist. At the same time, you also may elect to address the problems, which will then allow the engineer to file a "Conforming" report.


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