DOB Reacts to Increased Façade Failures

April 27, 2016


Photography: Jane Gertler

Aging City Skyline Leads to Stricter Façade Enforcement

Pursuant to the April 18th Façade Inspection Safety Program (FISP) Industry Meeting attended by Howard Zimmerman and Stephanie Bush, HLZAE Executive Director, Operations, the DOB is looking more critically at the FISP building population, which is comprised of approximately 14,000 buildings over six stories throughout the city.

Increased staffing and manpower to conduct DOB inspections is forthcoming and they are reviewing the minimum professional standard of care with fresh eyes in light of recent façade failures.

What does this mean for building owners and property managers?

  • Building owners are required by code to maintain their property in safe condition.
  • Buildings that have projections, decorative stone, sandstone components, terracotta elements, and cavity wall construction may require more extensive visual evaluations as well as probes in order to satisfy the requirements of FISP (RCNY103-04).
  • While one close-up inspection (typically by scaffold drop) is the minimum currently required by code, the perspective of the Facades Unit is that one is not the minimum for every building. Depending on age, construction type, repair history and observations, additional drops may be necessary.
  • The DOB will be looking closely at buildings that have a “No Report Filed” status or that were previously filed unsafe or SWARMP, but have not filed for façade repair work permits.
  • If your building does not have a 7th Cycle Report filed, you should file your 8th Cycle Report as soon as possible (regardless of sub-cycle).  This will require all civil penalties be paid.
  • The DOB is urging all unsafe status buildings to promptly make repairs and bring the building to safe condition while employing public protective measures and submitting all required permits, time extension requests and façade reports.
  • Any unsafe conditions observed by a professional must be reported by calling 311 regardless of building height or if the professional was retained for a building evaluation or not.  This means just walking down the street and seeing a suspicious condition is expected to be reported to 311.  Additionally, notification of unsafe conditions (FISP3 form) must be submitted on buildings over six stories.
  • Balcony enclosures require a permit.  Enclosures installed without record of a permit either need a retroactive permit or need to be removed.  Structurally stable enclosures that do not have a permit could be cited as SWARMP depending on the condition.
  • Guardrail statements are required as part of the body of the report. These must be inspected and access must be provided to do so.  Structural stability is of paramount concern to the DOB.  Code compliancy issues will need to be addressed, but can be cited as SWARMP depending on the condition.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the above information, please feel free to call Howard Zimmerman or Stephanie Bush at (212) 564-9393.

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