Inspections of balconies, handrail assemblies & guards

To close out the 7th cycle, the NYC facade division requires that a separate ‘balcony’ statement be submitted by February 1, 2015. A balcony statement includes: the balcony structure, handrail assemblies, guards, and/or railings constructed of any material and associated connections.

The Professional Engineer may refer to the NYC code in place at the time the building was built in determining compliance. (See engineering info below)

What is needed:

A statement must be submitted by the Professional Engineer prior to the start of the 8th cycle.

If there are no balconies*, handrails/guards…no statement is required. *Balconies include terraces, walkways, corridors, fire escapes, roof areas and setbacks.

If the LL-11 status is changed because of the supplemental inspection:

1. A FISP3 must be filed if the status is downgraded to UNSAFE.
2. This and any other change requires the filing of an Amended or Subsequent Report.

It is the discretion of the Professional Engineer to determine the extent of the inspection, the required testing and the scope.

Balcony Enclosures:

Closed-in balconies with screens or walls on or within handrail/guards must be inspected and the status of their stability determined by the Professional Engineer. Permits ARE required for such structures.

Fees:

There is no DOB fee for balcony statement submittals.
Non compliance reverts to an incomplete report with penalties per the DOB Rule.

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WARNING – MATERIAL FOLLOWING IS FOR ENGINEERS (and insomniacs) ONLY.
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Engineering information:

For buildings built prior to the 1968 code, (when railings were not featured prominently in the code) the Professional Engineer should consider the original configuration of the balcony, material and associated degradation. Testing may be performed for a representative sample to determine Factor Of Safety. The code prior to 1968 references a FOS of 1 to 4. A review of the Certificate of Occupancy may also be informative.

In the 1968 NYC code, railing design loads are: 50 pounds per lineal foot – any direction.

In the 2008 NYC code, railing design loads are 200 pounds concentrated at any location, in any direction, along the top rail. The top rail shall resist 50 pounds per lineal foot in any direction. All components (intermediate rails & filler panels) shall resist an applied horizontal load of 50 pounds on one square foot of area.

Buildings Bulletin 2011-017 clarifies the loading of intermediate and bottom rails defined in the 1968 code as 50 pounds force at the most critical location.

Buildings Bulletin 2011-017 further clarifies the 2008 code for intermediate rails, balusters and panel fillers. For vertical loading requirements 50 pounds per lineal foot downward shall be considered and a concentrated upward force of 50 pounds applied at the most critical position.

Buildings Bulletin 2011-017 states that the railings, balusters and components shall be designed separately for the effect of wind when the total wind load on the panel or component exceeds 50 pounds. Wind loading need not be combined with any other live load.

2 replies
  1. Shaz
    Shaz says:

    Your blog is very informative, I work in NYC and our railing inspection was recently done. I inspected the railings with the engineer and most railing seemed to pass the 50 lbs linear foot except from one or two mounting posts. how should i challenge the engineer findings. If engineer report suggest the railing unsafe.

    Reply
  2. Eric W. Cowley, PE
    Eric W. Cowley, PE says:

    Shaz,
    Sorry I didn’t see your post until today.
    Depends on the age of your building. The 50 lbs per lineal foot requirement didn’t exist for buildings pre 1968. It is, however, a good rating to use and make a determination. If it didn’t make the 50 lbs per lineal foot my question would be at what load did it fail? How was failure determined? At the end of the day, it is up to the judgement of the engineer.

    Reply

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