Published: Winter 1999
BUILDINGS DEPARTMENT IMPLEMENTS
LOCAL LAW 11
Local Law 10 of 1980 required that all buildings higher than six stories
inspect all facades within 25 feet of a public walkway to ensure structural
soundness. Reports were to be filed by February of 1982, and the buildings
were to be reinspected every five years. Thus, all buildings in the city
that are higher than six stories have now been through four cycles of
Local Law 10 filings. Nevertheless, there have recently been multiple
incidents of falling bricks and other facade materials.
To better protect the public, the City Council passed Local Law 11 of
1998; it tightens the inspection requirements of Local Law 10 and further
requires that buildings higher than six stories now perform inspections
of all walls (except when a wall is 12" or less from an adjoining
building). Even when it is only a portion of the building that extends
over six stories, the entire building must be inspected. Walls not previously
inspected must be inspected now and a report on them must be filed by
March 1, 2000.
The Department of Buildings has promulgated regulations for the implementation
of Local Law 11. They allow building owners to perform one inspection
of all the facades of their buildings now and file by March 1, 2000. This
report will qualify for the fifth Local Law 10 cycle. Buildings inspected
in this way need not file again until the 2005-2007 Local Law 10 cycle.
Alternatively, owners can inspect only the previously uninspected faces
of their buildings now, but if they do this they must file again for all
building faces by February 2002.
The highlights of the requirements of Local Law 11 are:
1. Inspect All Exterior Walls. The owners of all buildings higher than
six stories must now have a Registered Architect or Professional Engineer
inspect the entire building envelope, performing at least one complete
inspection from roof level to ground level from a scaffold. Following
specific guidelines provided by the Department of Buildings, the professional
must compare the condition of the building to its state in prior Local
Law 10 reports and determine the condition of all walls and appurtenances
thereto. Photographs must document any conditions that are in need of
work. If an unsafe condition is discovered, the professional must report
it at once to the Department of Buildings and remedial measures must be
taken at once.
2. File a Report With the Department of Buildings. The architect or engineer
will determinate whether all conditions at the building are (i) SAFE -
defined as "not requiring repair or maintenance to sustain the structural
integrity of the exterior of the building and that will not become unsafe
during the next five years.", or (ii) UNSAFE, or (iii) SAFE WITH
A REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE PROGRAM. If a system is classified SAFE WITH
A REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE PROGRAM, the professional must provide the owners
with a plan for necessary repair and maintenance. No condition reported
as SAFE WITH A REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE PROGRAM in one reporting period
can be reported in the same category in the subsequent filing.
While Local Law 11 is clearly well-Intentioned and is careful in its
description of specific inspection and reporting requirements, CNYC has
serious concerns about its unintended consequences. We testified at the
Department of Buildings hearing in November 1998, asking that some means
be found to restore in Local Law 11 the "precautionary" classification
contained in Local Law 10, where professionals tended to list minor building
conditions in need of observation or routine maintenance. Although this
category may have been abused in some instances, CNYC considers its complete
elimination to portend major problems.
It is our opinion that there are virtually no building systems that can
be guaranteed to be SAFE for five years (which in this case could really
be seven years) without any maintenance program. Therefore, it is likely
that most buildings will be described as SAFE WITH A REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
PROGRAM. This will be well and good in the present cycle, but Local Law
11 prevents a second round of classifying building conditions in this
category. At that point, architects and engineers will face the dilemma
of having to reclassify systems as either SAFE – requiring no maintenance
– or UNSAFE. This would seem to water down the true intent of the
law, which is to single out truly unsafe conditions for immediate attention,
as opposed to lumping them together with neglected yet relatively minor
In addition, CNYC is concerned about the very brief window of opportunity
during which thousands of buildings now have to be inspected. This is
likely to increase the cost of scaffolding, sidewalk bridges, and the
services of architects and engineers, to say nothing of the cost of the
actual repair work. With so much work to be done in so short a timespan,
it is virtually inevitable that less-experienced personnel will be performing
many tasks. This increases the risk of incomplete or inadequate reports
– performed with the best of intentions – as well as increased
risk of accidents with inexperienced people handling rigging, scaffolding
and sidewalk bridges.
CNYC is working with other groups in the real estate industry to establish
procedures and wording that will be acceptable to the Department of Buildings
and that will acknowledge that all building systems always need observation
and maintenance to keep them safe.
HOUSING FOR THE AGE BOOM
The United Nations has proclaimed 1999 the International Year
of Older Persons, bringing attention to the changing needs
of the older population. Census projections show that people
age 65 and over will represent 13% of the US population in
the year 2000 and 20% by 2030. Since New York is the city
where it is easiest for seniors to live, it houses far more
than this proportion of seniors.
The American Association of Retired People (AARP) has recently concluded
a study featuring the demographics of the baby boomer generation, including
experts' perspectives on boomers' future housing needs. Results will be
presented at a March 12, 1999, breakfast for housing professionals called,
"Universal Citiscape; Housing for the Age Boom".
Organized by AARP, the Cooper Hewitt Museum, National Design Museum,
the Smithsonian Institution, the MetLife Mature Market Group and the New
York City Department for the Aging, this conference is one of several
collaborative initiatives. Another is the Cooper-Hewitt Museum exhibit
entitled, "Unlimited by Design", which features devices and
amenities to help make buildings – the public areas and the interiors
of apartments – more commodious for seniors. It opened last November
and will be at the museum until Sunday, March 21, 1999.
CNYC is eager to hear from its members. Your accomplishments, successes,
triumphs, goal achievements and even war stories are of interest. Whether
faced with mortgage refinancing, roof replacement, management/Board transitions,
and/or major projects, your efforts are deservedly "recognition-worthy".
CNYC invites members to share their special stories. Tell us how you've
handled the challenges facing your cooperative or condominium. Let others
benefit from your experience and accomplishments; your trials/ tribulations;
war stories, and let CNYC recognize YOU!
We encourage members to participate in this network exchange of information
and board recognition, individual and/or collective. Special
stories will be featured in CNYC's Newsletter for the
benefit of our reading audience. Please forward your stories
to CNYC at 250 West 57th Street, Suite 730, New York, NY 10107-0730.
We look forward to hearing from many of you soon. Happy writings!
LEAD DISCLOSURE REQUIRED
IN JUNE ON ALL RENOVATIONS
New lead paint disclosure regulations go into effect nationwide
on June 1, 1999. The US Environmental Protection Agency requires
that whenever there is a renovation, repair or maintenance
activity which disrupts more than two square feet of painted
surface in a pre-1978 building, the renovator must make certain
disclosures to the building owner and occupants prior to the
commencement of work; proof must be recorded that such disclosure
was provided; and an EPA-approved pamphlet on lead hazards
must be given to the owner and offered to occupants who request
it. Renovators are defined as anyone who is paid to perform
the renovation work, including building owners or managers
that employ their own maintenance staff. Applicable work can
include work done by carpenters, plumbers, electricians, drywallers,
painters, etc. Renovators must maintain careful records of
all these activities and keep them for a three-year period.
Work performed inside apartments is subject to similar disclosure
As the time for meeting these requirements approaches, your building
will want to add appropriate EPA information to your renovation policy
and to institute procedures for verifying that these disclosure requirements
In the Autumn 1998 Newsletter, we told of deadlines relating to
underground tanks. These requirements do not apply to residential buildings.
We regret inconvenience that this error may have caused.