Published: Spring 1995
The following article appeared in the Spring
1995 issue of CNYC's quarterly Newsletter. You must be
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Facade Inspections Required by
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
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.
OBLIGATION TO CURE
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
- 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"