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Facade Inspection

Silman’s experience with facade assessment, stabilization, and repair dates back to the firm’s inception.
Conrad B. Duberstein US Bankruptcy Courthouse

Much of Silman’s facade work has been prepared under the auspices of local, state, and federal agencies, making the firm well-positioned to conduct inspections and produce documentation to demonstrate compliance with New York City’s Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP), previously known as Local Law 11. A more detailed explanation of FISP is provided below.

The firm’s leadership includes multiple licensed engineers who are Qualified Exterior Wall Inspectors (QEWIs). Silman’s experience has already afforded thousands of owners and clients with efficient long-term facade solutions.

The firm’s engineers have performed these services on facades of all different materials, including a broad  range of masonry facades. Silman’s expertise in the use of both probes and non-destructive evaluation techniques ensures that clients are provided with the most detailed and accurate results possible.

On projects of special historic significance or those with unique challenges, Silman often collaborates with sub-consultants including laser scanning specialists and industrial rope access firms, especially when dealing with difficult-to-reach exterior elevations.

Silman’s comprehensive assessments of exterior deteriorated elements are used to map the extent of structural elements that require localized repairs, and in some cases to develop a new building envelope that is compatible with the existing materials that are to remain. Many clients for whom Silman has provided facade inspections services subsequently retain the firm to develop comprehensive scoping reports for cost-estimating purposes and to design repairs.

Read about Silman’s other building envelope work here.

What is NYC FISP?

New York City’s legal requirements for facade inspection date back to 1979, when a college student was fatally struck by a falling piece of terra cotta. Local Law 10, signed into law in 1980, required any building taller than six stories to be inspected by a qualified professional every five years. In 1997, after multiple incidents involving partial collapse and falling masonry, Local Law 11 was implemented. This update removed exceptions for non-street facing facades and more clearly defined the required qualifications of the engineer or architect performing the inspection.

The current iteration of Local Law 11, recently renamed the Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP), has additional inspection requirements for the structural integrity of existing handrails and guard assemblies. New buildings must have a FISP report filed in the next applicable cycle that occurs on the fifth anniversary of the first Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO).

What are the current requirements of NYC FISP?

All buildings greater than six stories must have an inspection completed every five years for all facades except walls less than 12 inches from the exterior wall of an adjacent building. The required facade inspections, called critical examinations, may only be performed by a Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector (QEWI), who must also be a Professional Engineer (PE) or Registered Architect (RA) licensed in New York State. The NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) Cycle 9 Schedule is based on the last digit of a building’s block number:

The QEWI and their team will conduct a physical examination of the facade, with close-up inspections performed at intervals of no more than 60 feet. Each condition observed must be classified as safe, safe with a repair and maintenance program (SWARMP), or unsafe. Based on this classification of conditions, the overall building then must be categorized as safe, SWARMP, or unsafe. A report summarizing building conditions is then filed with the DOB.

NYC DOB Resources: Facade Inspection Rules | Facade Report Guidelines | Facade Safety Reports

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