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The latest news on New York architecture.

New York City's Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP), formally known as Local Law 11, requires the facades of buildings of six or more stories to be inspected for safety 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 This measure was a replacement for Local Law 10, originally enacted in the late 1990’s, which required inspections of only the front side of buildings. The latest inspection period, Cycle 8, started in February 2015 and ends in February 2020.

Assessment

When restoring a building, one of the first steps is giving the building an assessment of its current condition. The structure should be examined, which includes the roof, foundation, walls, gutters, windows and interior leaks. 

Buildings in New York City typically have membrane roofing made of synthetic rubber, modified bitumen or thermoplastic. With flat roofs, it’s important to note any ponding water and other signs of damage. If the roof is slate, it’s important to look for damaged and missing material.

As for the exterior walls, unsafe conditions include items such as loose or cracked bricks, cracked windows, missing mortar, improperly secured air conditioners, and any other conditions which may be dangerous to pedestrians below. Unsafe conditions must be dealt with immediately which involves installing a sidewalk shed within a 30-day period. Then an amended report must be filed confirming the repairs required. Extensions of up to 90 days may be granted if necessary.

Design

The SHA team is a full-service architectural firm. Our goal is to ensure that your building is both functional and beautiful, and we pay special attention to the historic details of the building exterior. In order to complete accurate repairs, we utilize the original materials or replicate them to achieve the appearance of the original design.

Another option for exterior building restoration is adaptive reuse. Adaptive reuse projects maintain the historic envelope while updating the interior. Updating the existing interior rather than the construction of a new structure saves money and time. This option is also a means of preserving the history, identity and charm of a city. Adaptive reuse of buildings is also eco-friendly, as fewer building materials are being utilized. 

If you find yourself in need of exterior building restoration or adaptive reuse design projects, contact Scott Henson Architect, located in New York City. Our approach is innovative, sustainable and respectful in order to preserve the integrity of historic structures.

Published in Restoration

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.

What is It

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.

Why it's Necessary

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.

How it Works

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.

Contact us today for more information.

Published in Sustainability

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.

Published in Local Law 11

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.

Local Law 11

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:

  • Expanded the façade inspection to ALL façades and appurtenances; except walls 12” or fewer inches from an adjacent building
  • Required scaffolding at each inspection
  • Required a written report on any deterioration and its causes
  • Required a timetable for any repairs, and staggered these dates throughout the year
  • Established a building classification system—“safe”, “unsafe”, or “safe with a repair and maintenance program (SWARMP)”—and eliminated “precautionary”

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)

The Façade Inspection Safety Program (FISP) oversees adherence to Local Law 11. Among the FISP requirements are:

  • Technical Report (form TR6)
  • Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector (QEWI) and owner contact information
  • Current and clear photographs and/or sketches of unsafe conditions
  • Repair timeframe
  • Scaffold drop and location
  • Any report findings that are inconsistent with photographs

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.

Published in Miscellaneous