NYC Local Law 11 Facade Restoration

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Façade Inspection Safety Program (FISP)

New York City’s Façade Inspection Safety Program” (FISP), commonly known as Local Law 11, requires that owners of buildings higher than six stories must professionally inspect their buildings’ exterior walls and appurtenances once every five years. Since the introduction of FISP, various landmark, commercial, and residential building owners have retained the specialized services of Pier Head Construction, Ltd., to stay in compliance with FISP requirements.

Pier Head Construction, a 30-year old Manhattan-based construction firm serving the Greater New York area, is a licensed and recognized expert in Local Law 11 repairs, safety, and maintenance. Pier Head Construction also handles the complexities of historic landmark restorations, and renovations on a wide range of commercial and residential facility types such as:

  • Landmarked brownstones and townhouses
  • NYU Langone Medical Center
  • New York-Presbyterian Hospital
  • Macy’s Brooklyn Downtown (Fulton Street)
  • The Cartier Building
  • Park Central Hotel New York and many other iconic properties

To ensure proper compliance with the Façade Inspection Safety Program, consult with Pier Head Construction and review the following steps of their action plan:

STEP 1: Check if Your Building is Compliant with FISP

If your building is six stories or more, you must comply with the Façade Inspection Safety Program (FISP). Check the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) Building Information System (BIS) at the website: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dob/html/bis/bis.shtml.

STEP 2: Examine Report from the Previous Inspection Cycle

Determine how the building was classified in the last cycle—the FISP Cycle 7 reporting period, which ended on February 20, 2015. The status of the façade can be classified in three ways:

  • Safe: The façade has no problems and is in good condition.
  • Safe with a Repair and Maintenance Program (SWARMP): The façade is safe, but requires repairs/maintenance.
  • Unsafe: The façade has problems/defects that pose a threat to public safety.

Guidelines if your building falls under the SWARMP category: Buildings with ongoing construction work cannot be designated as Safe:

  • If the façade was classified as SWARMP in the previous cycle, you must complete all necessary repairs by the next cycle. If repairs are not made, the condition of the façade must be classified as Unsafe. Repairs must be made, even if the defects seem relatively minor, appear to not need a maintenance program, have not worsened and exposed issues that require legalization.
  • If SWARMP status is indicated, provide the following statement: “There are no unsafe conditions.”
  • If SWARMP status is indicated, a time frame must be established to complete repair work and a completion date (MM/YY) must be identified. The time frame for repairs cannot be less than 12 months from the date of filing of the report at DOB.

Guidelines if your building falls under the “Unsafe” category:

  • If unsafe conditions are found during an inspection, owners must file the report as “Unsafe” and immediately install public safety measures, such as a sidewalk shed, construction fence, etc. Unsafe conditions must be corrected within 90 days and an amended report filed with the Department within 15 days of completing the repairs. In total, repairs must be corrected and an amended report filed within 105 days of the initial filing.
  • If the repairs cannot be completed within the allotted time, an extension up to 90 days may be granted.
  • If a building owner files a report as “Unsafe” and fails to correct the conditions and files an amended report within the allotted time (and does not obtain an extension), the building owner is subject to a monthly penalty for every month the unsafe conditions are not corrected.

STEP 3: Fix SWARMP Conditions

If SWARMP status is indicated, a time frame must be established to complete repair work and a completion date (MM/YY) must be identified. The time frame for repairs cannot be less than 12 months from the date of filing of the report at DOB.

STEP 4: Inspection Cycle: Determine Your Filing Deadline

The current Inspection Cycle (Cycle 8) runs from February 21, 2015 to February 21, 2020. The cycle has three staggered sub-cycles: Cycle 8A, Cycle 8B and Cycle 8C. The last digit of the building’s block number determines the sub-cycles in which the report must be filed.

Sub-cycle Last Digit of Block Number Filing Period
A 4, 5, 6, or 9 2/21/2015 – 2/20/2017
B 0, 7, or 8 2/21/2016 – 2/21/2018
C 1, 2, or 3 2/21/2017 – 2/20/2019

STEP 5: Perform the Critical Examination

During the above inspection period, retain the services of a Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector (QEWI) — a New York State licensed architect or engineer to conduct the critical examination as set forth in RCNY §103-04, to include:

  • Appurtenances which are not limited to, exterior fixtures, flagpoles, signs, parapets, railings, copings, guard rails, window frames (including hardware and lights), balcony enclosures, window guards, window air conditioners, flower boxes and any equipment attached to or protruding from the façade.
  • Classifying buildings as safe, unsafe, or SWARMP. If the building is classified as unsafe, or SWARMP, the report must include the locations and descriptions of all unsafe or SWARMP conditions.
  • Balcony railings must be inspected to ensure that their components (balusters, intermediate railings, and panel fillers) are positively secured against upward movement (e.g., by welds, bolts, or screws). If any balcony enclosure is found not to be positively secured, the condition is classified as unsafe and must be made safe.
  • A physical examination from a scaffold or other observation platform (a “close-up inspection”) is required for a representative sample of the exterior wall. The QEWI shall determine what constitutes a representative sample. The representative sample shall include at least one physical examination along a path from grade to top of an exterior wall on a street front using at least one scaffold drop or other observation platform configuration, including all setbacks.

STEP 6: Adjustments and Modifications

Under NYC law, it is mandatory that QEWIs notify the DOB if they find any Unsafe conditions during the critical examination. After the report, the owner has 30 days to rectify the issue. The QEWI will conduct another inspection and file an amended report.

STEP 7: Get Ready to File the FISP Report

The QEWI shall file with the DOB and submit a copy to the owner of the building a written report, beginning with DOB Form TR6-Technical Report for inspection of exterior walls and appurtenances. In the critical examination report, The QEWI will clearly document all conditions noted during the inspection, stating that the inspection was performed and completed in accordance with the Administrative Code. The report shall include an executive overview that shall consist of a summary of findings and recommendations, a concise statement of the scope of the inspection and findings, the conclusions and recommendations and a determination as to whether the building is categorized as “safe,” “SWARMP,” or “unsafe.”

After the inspection, a report must be filed within 60 days or the critical examination will be repeated. If the original report is rejected, you can file a revised report within 45 days.

Civil Penalties and Costs

(1) An owner who fails to file the required acceptable inspection report shall be liable for a civil penalty of one thousand dollars ($1,000) per year immediately after the end of the applicable filing window. (2) Late filing: In addition to the penalty for failure to file, an owner who submits a late filing shall be liable for a civil penalty of two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) per month, commencing on the day following the filing deadline of the assigned filing window period and ending on the filing date of an acceptable initial report. (3) In addition to the penalties provided in this section, an owner who fails to correct an unsafe condition shall be liable for a civil penalty of one thousand dollars ($1,000) per month, pro-rated daily, until the unsafe condition is corrected. Time extension repairs cost $135. Time request extensions must be renewed every 90 days.

Your FISP Action Plan

Getting compliant is a process. Pier Head Construction, Ltd., an experienced provider of Local Law 11 compliance services will guide you to success. The firm enjoys a strong reputation built on attention to quality control, safety, creative problem solving, and hands-on supervision by the principals. It is staffed with a highly skilled, responsive team for exterior restorations and compliance with Local Law 11 safety and maintenance requirements for residential and commercial façades.

For More Information
Sheri Best, President
Pier Head Construction, Ltd.
Telephone: (212) 966 2234, ext. 202
E-mail: sheribest@pierhead.com
Website: www.pierhead.com