The façade division at the NYC Department of Buildings, endeavoring towards ‘zero defects’, has recently begun performing audits and site inspections upon receiving submissions of LL-11 reports – both SAFE and SWARMP.
To handle the work flow, the Façade Division has hired dozens of inspectors to perform follow up inspections of the property conditions and descriptions covered by the submitted LL-11 inspection reports. These inspectors are not performing hands on inspections. These inspectors are using high powered telephoto lenses to review conditions. These inspectors then challenge the classification of the conditions and therefore the judgement of the licensed professionals retained to perform the inspections, which results in rejections of the submitted reports and the issuance of violations to the subject client properties.
In the past, the DOB would hold the submitted report until questionable items were addressed or a satisfactory explanation was provided. Now, ECB court appearances are required along with Certificates of Correction to satisfy these challenges.
This Game Changing strategy means that the NYCDOB now has exclusive discretion in determining façade conditions for client properties, regardless of the opinion, hands on inspection, institutional experience and judgement of the design professional.
The intention of this new strategy to make NYC safer. However, the unintended consequence is to make ‘very good’ the enemy of perfect.
Cowley Engineering will continue to perform our inspections and use our judgement consistent with our industry’s standards. Client properties should expect:
- rejected LL-11 reports,
- the issuance of violations requiring resolution,
- civil penalties,
- trivial façade repairs that require filing,
- sidewalk protection to perform trivial repairs,
- site safety plans for tall buildings,
all as a result of an audit or visit from a DOB inspector.