Local Law 11 Update (8th Cycle)

I attended a Local Law 11 industry presentation recently at the NYCDOB.

The Facade division has taken a lot of heat due to the recent masonry cavity wall failure (65th and 1st avenue) and the loss of life from a falling portion of ornamental terra cotta on West End Avenue, among others.

There is the realization that its been 36 years since the façade law was put in place yet façade failures are still occurring.  The façade division is conducting a re-think of the way they will be reviewing 8th Cycle Local Law 11 submissions with the intent of future rule changes.

To start with, Cycle 8 submissions will be scrutinized more thoroughly.  The department has added significant quantity of staff for thorough reviews of submissions as well as personnel to field verify the engineer’s condition assessment.  The department will be looking for such things as:

  1. Were there an adequate number of inspection drops?
  2. Were invasive probes performed?
  3. Were natural stone and terra cotta elements sounded and thoroughly examined?
  4. Was the cornice overhanging the street thoroughly examined?

The department has also raised the fines associated with No Report Filed (NRF) status of which there were approximately 700 last cycle.

Action Items

Expect higher inspection and rigging costs. Multiple drops, invasive probes, identification for removal and replacement of non-ductile elements (terra cotta, natural stone) will become normal.  The façade unit is raising its standard so the inspection process must exceed the minimum requirement.

Beware of SWARMP classification.  SWARMP status will trigger follow up inspections by façade unit field personnel.  Expect challenges to the SWARMP classification and violations for UNSAFE conditions.

Remove and restore to original condition all balcony enclosures that have not been permitted.  The DOB has rescinded their June 1, 1976 memo regarding balcony enclosures and now requires proof of legal condition, proof of filing and proof of wind resistance.

Permanent rule changes to follow.