Performing upkeep on a building's exterior is important, and not merely for the sake of appearances. Buildings with facades that have not been maintained can be hazardous, which is why the city has enacted measures like FISP, formally known as Local Law 11.
FISP is a local law which requires the owners of any building more than six stories tall to have the exterior walls and appurtenances on that building inspected every five years. This measure was a replacement for Local Law 10, originally enacted in the late 1990’s, which required inspections of only the front side of buildings.
Facade inspections only became mandatory after a Barnard College student was killed by a piece of terra cotta falling off a building in 1979. The original laws only targeted building exteriors that faced pedestrian walkways. It also did not require close-up inspection. A series of incidents in December 1997, including stone pieces falling off buildings and entire facades collapsing, pushed the city to repeal the original laws and set stricter building codes.
Any building more than six stories tall - residential or commercial - must have its entire facade inspected once every five-year cycle. The cycles are broken down into sub-cycles, which are determined by the last digit of the building's block number. Each of these sub-cycles has a two-year window in which inspections must occur and reports filed.
Owners need to have inspections completed with a qualified exterior wall inspector (usually a registered architect or professional engineer) on site to supervise the inspection.
Reports must be filed within 60 days of the inspection, with a condition of Safe, Safe With a Repair and Maintenance Program (SWARMP), or Unsafe. Unsafe conditions must be reported immediately, and repairs effected in 30 days. Buildings with SWARMP conditions must have repairs complete prior to their next inspection cycle.
Along with its many design and building maintenance services, Scott Henson Architect has provided FISP services for over one thousand buildings in NYC.
The New York City Department of Buildings requires that owners of buildings taller than 6 stories have their buildings’ exterior walls and appurtenances inspected once every 5 years by a qualified Registered Architect or Professional Engineer. The R.A. or P.E. must then file a technical report with the Façade Inspection Safety Program (FISP) of the Department of Buildings.
Scott Henson Architect has performed LL11 compliance inspections and report submissions for over 100 buildings, providing assessment to address necessary and recommended repairs. Properties inspected by Scott Henson Architect range from 20th Century skyscrapers to smaller buildings, some of them landmarked, dispersed throughout the 5 boroughs of New York City.
In May, 1979, a piece of lintel became detached from the eighth floor of a Columbia University-owned apartment constructed in 1912 and fell, fatally striking a passing college student. To ensure that history would not repeat itself, New York City passed Local Law 10 the following year . The law stated that the street-facing facades and side walls of every building more than six stories would be required to be inspected every five years. If the inspection revealed any defects or deficiencies, reconstruction and an additional inspection would be required.
Eight years later Local Law 11 was introduced to address emerging problems and potential issues, expanding the requirements of Local Law 10 to include the following:
Local Law 11 also requires that any SWARMP-designated buildings which are not fixed in a timely manner receive an adjusted designation of “unsafe.” Any required repairs must be completed within 30 days of the initial report, to then be followed by another inspection and report filing. The Department of Buildings (DOB) charges $265 for the initial report and an additional $100 for amended and subsequent reports.
The Façade Inspection Safety Program (FISP) oversees adherence to Local Law 11. Among the FISP requirements are:
Failure to file results in a $1,000 fine per year plus $250 per month for every month the report is overdue.
Today, over 12,500 New York City buildings are subject to Local Law 11.
For more information about Local Law 11 and/or obtaining a qualified exterior wall inspector, please contact us.