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The latest news on New York architecture.

NYC Department of Buildings law requires that all big buildings (6 stories and higher) must have their facades professionally inspected every five years. This law was formerly known as Local Law 11 and was renamed as Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP). The current filing window for Cycle 8 has closed as of February 2019. The upcoming five year Cycle 9 will begin in February 2020 and closes in February 2024.

Background on FISP

Originally named Local Law 10, the law was enacted in the early 1980s by then-Mayor Ed Koch after several people were tragically injured. The first person was a Barnard College student who was struck by a piece of falling terra cotta in 1979 and died on West 115th Street. In 1982, a 28-year-old lawyer was struck by a piece of falling masonry as she was walking in downtown Brooklyn. On her way to court that morning, she had returned to her office to retrieve her umbrella.

Local Law 10 was reformed in 1997 after several incidents of collapse and falling masonry throughout NYC. While there were no immediate fatalities, the collapses catapulted Local Law 10 requirements to the public’s attention. Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani called for the original law to be revised and renamed as the updated Local Law 11 in 1998.

Does My Building Need a Facade Inspection?

Any NYC building owner with a six-story or taller building must comply with the law. If you have not had your façade inspected by February 2019, your fines will start to add up. The fines begin at $250 per month for a late filing and can reach $1,000 per year for not filing at all.

Who Can Perform FISP in Compliance with NYC Law?

Scott Henson Architect specializes in exterior building inspections to ensure your building is in compliance with FISP. Our team of licensed architects has performed thousands of routine inspections and can help ensure that your building is ready to be inspected in upcoming Cycle 9. The exterior inspection requires a close, critical examination and must be completed by a Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector (QEWI). Your professional inspector must be a NYS licensed engineer or architect. We can perform the inspection and report to the NYC Department of Buildings your building conditions determining that it falls into one of the three following categories: SAFE, UNSAFE or SWARMP.

  • SAFE buildings require no repairs.
  • UNSAFE buildings require immediate repairs within 30 days. Building owners are responsible for providing sidewalk shields or similar protections for the public.
  • SWARMP (Safe With A Repair and Maintenance Program) conditions vary by building, your FISP facade inspector can provide detailed information describing exactly what needs to be repaired.

Preserving New York City architecture is our passion at Scott Henson Architect. Keep up with the latest updates in NYC building regulations on our website. If you need to schedule your upcoming Cycle 9 FISP inspection, contact us and we’ll ensure your building is in compliance with NYC laws.

Published in Restoration

The Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP), previously known as Local Law 11, requires owners of buildings six stories and up to schedule an inspection of the exterior walls and appurtenances by a New York State licensed architect or engineer every five years. Depending on the building’s level of deterioration, a building owner may be required to coordinate a second inspection so that the architect or engineer may verify the progress of corrective measures.

Now that you understand what FISP is, perhaps you’re wondering why it exists. Unfortunately, most building code is written because of an unfortunate event. In the case of FISP, this is also true. In 1980, a pedestrian was killed when a piece of masonry fell from the facade of a building in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. In order to prevent similar tragedies from occurring, New York City Council amended the building code to provide for periodic inspections of street facades and appurtenances. Later, in 1997 and 1998, there were several more exterior wall failures in New York City. As a result, the city passed New York City Local Law 11 of 1998, which required inspections and maintenance of the façades of buildings greater than six stories in height.

Owners of such buildings are required to have a Registered Architect or Professional Engineer, known as a “qualified exterior wall inspector,” to perform a visual and close-up inspection of the entire building envelope, including side and rear facing walls. This inspection also includes the examination fire escapes, railings, parapets and roof. Appurtenances such as air conditioners, canopies, satellite dishes, and antennae are also subject to inspection.

After the inspection, the qualified exterior wall inspector will prepare the drawings and file with the Department of Buildings (DOB). Buildings may be classified as safe, safe with a repair and maintenance program (SWARMP), or unsafe. A building classified as SWARMP, must be repaired in a timely fashion, while an unsafe building is dangerous and requires immediate attention.

Unsafe conditions may include items such as loose bricks, cracked windows, leaning walls, or improperly secured air conditioners, as well as other conditions which may be dangerous to pedestrians below. Unsafe conditions must be dealt with immediately, within a 30-day period, and an amended report must be filed confirming the repairs. Extensions of up to 90 days may be granted if necessary.

Regular facade inspections help identify potential problems such as water infiltration and heat loss for tenants and keeps people safe on the street below. For more information, please contact uscontact us.

Published in Adaptive Reuse