The latest news on New York architecture.

  • Compliance With Local Law 11 Cycle 8

    New laws are often enacted after there has been some sort of tragedy. Local Law 10, later 11, is no exception.

    In 1980, a piece of masonry fell from a building and a pedestrian was killed. To help prevent this from happening again, The New York City Council amended the building code. Building exteriors now had to be inspected by a properly licensed engineer or architect. This was called the Local Law 10 of 1980.

    The Local Law 10 of 1980 was amended and became the Local Law 11 of 1998. It is also referred to as "FISP," the Facade Inspection Safety Program.  It represents the oldest enforced facade inspection law in the nation, with over 12,500 buildings falling under its jurisdiction. 

    There have been different inspection cycles under this law. Cycles 1 through 7 ran from the inception of the law until February, 2013. The current Cycle 8 began February 21, 2015 and will run until February 21, 2019.

    These rules apply to buildings that are higher than 6 stories in height. If there is a question whether inspection and reporting is applicable, there is a website where the current FISP status can be checked. That website is here. The exterior walls and appurtenances must be checked by a licensed inspector, a Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector (QEWI). There is a two-year window within which this inspection must be done, and this window cycles every 5 years. All exterior walls must be examined.

    There is a Critical Report that must be filed with the Department of Buildings (DOB). The classifications in the resultant report are Safe, Unsafe, or Safe with a Repair and Maintenance Program (SWARMP).

    • Safe applies to a building that will not become unsafe within the next five years
    • Unsafe is a condition of a building wall, any appurtenances thereto, or any part thereof, that is hazardous to persons or property and requires prompt repair." An unsafe condition must be corrected within 30 days. Extensions are permitted if certain conditions are met.
    • SWARMP is something that is safe at the time of inspection, but will need repair or maintenance within the next five years.

    There are filing fees that apply to these reports.

    When it comes to Cycle 8, there have been some changes that affect report filings.

    1. Prior to Cycle 8, if an air conditioner was considered unsafe, that designation then applied to the whole building. Now, an unsafe air conditioner is permitted a SWARMP designation. 
    2. Reports must now be filed within 60 days of completion, or a new examination is required.  This keeps reporting up-to-date and accurate.
    3. The third change involves fees. If a report has been rejected twice, a new fee is charged to cover the cost of the third report review.

    If you are still finishing taking care of business from Cycle 7, it is time to finish that now. The Sub-Cycle 8A runs from February 21, 2015 to February 21, 2017.  If your building comes up for inspection, and you still not have completed a Cycle 7 SWARMP, well, you can see the potential problem. Cycle 7 repairs need to be completed now.

    Contact us so we can help you come into compliance with Local Law 11, Cycle 8, as well as complete any Cycle 7 repairs.

  • What You Should Know About Vegetated Roof Systems

    What You Should Know About Vegetated Roof Systems

    Today's vegetated roof systems are not the old log cabin with a sod roof. They include a waterproofing layer, drainage, growing media, and plants.

    Today's vegetated roof system, or green roof, offers many benefits. A concentration of vegetated roof systems in an urban area can reduce a city's average temperature during the summer. A vegetated roof system can lower heating and cooling costs, help to insulate a building for sound, filter and reduce rain runoff, increase real estate value, and increase the life of a roof. It can even attract beneficial insects, birds, bees, and butterflies.

    There are three types of these systems: extensive, semi-intensive, and intensive.

    Extensive is the least expensive and the lightest weight. Generally 2" to 5" deep and planted with sedum, moss, or grass, they require the least maintenance at once or twice a year.

    Semi-intensive vegetated roof systems require a deeper soil layer, but more types of plantings are used. In addition to the mosses, grasses, and Sedum of extensive roofs, semi-intensive plantings include herbs, flowering plants, taller grasses, and small shrubs. These plants require maintenance at least every month.

    Intensive gardens require the deepest soil, but they also accommodate all types of plantings, including large shrubs and trees. Maintenance of a vegetated roof system of this type is ongoing.

    One thing you must consider is the structural load, which is the saturated weight of the plants at maturity, and the weight of the people who will be on the roof.

    The Environmental Protection Agency estimates the cost of a green roof to start at $10 to $25 per square foot.

     Please contact us for more information on this green alternative.