NYC has ramped up façade inspections following the recent death of Erica L. Tishman, a prominent Manhattan architect who was struck by falling building debris. In the immediate time after, the DOB conducted a sweep of 1,331 façades previously deemed unsafe or cited for repairs, resulting in 220 violations.
Now, the DOB is implementing a series of changes that will make façade inspections more stringent in the interests of public safety. The new amended rule regarding façade inspections was officially published by the DOB on January 21, 2020 and will go into effect on February 20, 2020.
Here's what you need to know to keep your building safe and compliant.
What changes are coming?
Generally, the updates are aimed at making oversight of façade inspections more frequent, thorough and proactive. Another focus was scaling up enforcement actions and the consequences of violations. The changes include:
- Doubling the size of the dedicated façade inspection team: DOB has resolved to hire for 12 new staff positions, doubling the number of 11 existing inspectors and adding to the current 11 administrative support staff and six technical staff. The expanded capacity will help the team meet increased obligations.
- Conducting follow-up inspections within 60 days of every Class 1 façade violation: Effective immediately after Tishman's death, any buildings with a façade that is unsafe or which requires repairs will undergo additional proactive re-inspections to ensure any required pedestrian safety measures are properly installed and maintained. Failure to abide results in city contractors performing the work at the owner's expense. Additionally, further follow-up field inspections will occur 90 days after Class 1 violation issuance, and every 90 days thereafter to ensure compliance with DOB orders.
- Subjecting all buildings taller than six stories to proactive safety compliance reviews: The previous standard called for proactive reviews only for buildings that had previously received a violation. Now every building taller than six stories will be subject: 25% of these buildings will be selected at random for safety reviews.
In addition to the new amended rule, the DOB will also be updating the Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP) for the upcoming ninth inspection cycle in February 2020.
What is FISP?
The Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP) requires commercial owners and managers of buildings higher than six stories to have exterior walls and appurtenances inspected every five years and file technical façade reports via DOB NOW: Safety.
The DOB is instituting a number of changes to the FISP, which include:
- Additional experience requirements for façade inspectors.
- New requirements that owners post and maintain building façade status in the lobby.
- More hands-on inspections of façades fronting public rights of way and increased penalties for failure to make repairs.
The importance of maintaining the façade of your building to protect public safety cannot be overstated — especially in light of these changes.
If you need assistance or have questions about NYC's new rules for facade inspections, please contact Milrose today.