Filing Cycle 9 FISP Reports:
NYC and the Department of Buildings (DOB) require façade inspections of building every five years under Local Law 11/98, now known as the Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP).
Below are some Frequently Asked Questions about the program and details about the upcoming 9th Cycle:
Local Law 11/98 Versus The Facade Inspection Safety Program
The City’s first cycle of facade inspections began in 1980 with what was known then as Local Law 10/80. This required building owners to perform street-facing facade inspections at least once every five years if their buildings were taller than six stories. Filing of a written report of these findings was subsequently due to the DOB.
Local Law 11 of 1998 expanded upon this mandating the inspection of all building facades as well as other new requirements such as performing of at least one street-facing facade scaffold drop, the identification of the specific causes for observed deterioration, and the establishment of a repair timeline for them.
The DOB officially renamed this local law to the Facade Inspection Safety Program during the 7th Cycle of inspections (which ran from February 21, 2010 to February 21, 2013). Additional changes established overlapping inspection timeframes with staggered filing deadlines based on the last digit of the building’s block number in order to ease the strain on both the building’s management and DOB inspectors.
A FISP inspection covers all the appurtenances and building facades taller than six stories. This includes any parapets, balconies, railings, fire escapes, etc. present on the building. Per DOB requirements at least one of these facades must be inspected via a close-up hands-on inspection from a scaffold, with that facade being representative of the building’s other exterior walls in construction and condition. The remainder of the elevations can then be typically inspected via a visual inspection using binoculars, digital photography and other means. All conditions present along the walls are documented and photographed, then incorporated into a written inspection report filed with the DOB via their new online portal, called the DOBNOW.
Per DOB requirements these facade inspections must be conducted, witnessed, or supervised by what the DOB refers to as "Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector" (QEWI). These individuals will be either a New York State Registered Architect (RA) or New York State licensed Professional Engineer (PE) with at least one year of experience.
Buildings are filed under one of the following three categories:
Updated rules require railings and their connections present anywhere on a building taller than six stories to be evaluated for structural soundness as a part of the Façade Inspection Safety Program.
2) Safe With A Repair And Maintenance Program (SWARMP)
A building filed as Safe will not need to perform any restoration work and requires no further action. A building filed as SWARMP must perform the specified repairs in the time frame listed in the report by the Engineer or Architect. An Unsafe building must be repaired within 30 days, with owners having the ability to request extensions from the DOB.
An Unsafe condition covers anything that could fall from a building. Examples include but are not limited to loose bricks, mortar, concrete, cracked glass, damaged terra cotta, and/or any other loose elements present along fire escapes or windowsills.
Any Unsafe conditions observed must immediately be reported and a Notification of Unsafe Conditions/FISP3 form submitted to the DOB (Now available for immediate submission via the DOBNOW).
Submission of a FISP3 form triggers a violation, and a DOB inspector may inspect the reported unsafe conditions within 24 hours of notification.
The building must take the following steps once and Unsafe notification is made:
· Immediate installation of a sidewalk shed to protect the public on all facades with unsafe conditions (or adequate fencing along facades not facing a street).
· Submit a letter from an engineering/architectural firm that specifies the scope of work, timetable for repairs, and confirmation that the proper safety measures are in place.
· Submit a copy of the contract with a contractor hired to perform the necessary repairs.
· Submit an initial extension request for the required repairs should that repair work not be completed within the DOB’s default 30-day timeframe. This initial extension grants an additional 90-days for repair, which can be requested again as needed until the work is completed. It is important to note that as long as these extensions are approved and maintained during the repairs, the DOB will not assess any fines.
Once the unsafe conditions have been repaired, the engineer/architect that has been monitoring the repair program will file an Amended Report with the DOB that updates the building status to either SWARMP (should qualifying conditions still exist) or Safe (should no other SWARP or Unsafe conditions be present).
The engineer/architect is required to inspect repairs of unsafe conditions within two weeks after they are completed.
A SWARMP condition is anything deemed by the Engineer/Architect as being “Safe” at the time of inspection, but that could become Unsafe before the beginning of the next FISP cycle. Examples include but are not limited to cracked or spalled masonry, deteriorated mortar joints, deflected window lintels, and/or damaged coatings.
Per the updated DOB regulations, the QEWI will give a specific deadline (minimum one year after filing) by which each individual SWARMP item must be repaired in order to prevent it from deteriorating into an Unsafe condition. Should the SWARMP item not corrected by this established deadline, the Department of Buildings can immediately downgrade the building’s status to Unsafe.
If any of the listed SWARMP items are not repaired by the next cycle’s report deadline, the building is also automatically downgraded to Unsafe, regardless of the actual degree of physical danger posed by the cited condition. The DOB explicitly states that outstanding SWARMP items cannot be carried over from one inspection cycle to the next.
For the 9th Cycle of inspections, reports must be filed within the following windows:
· Block numbers ending in 4, 5, 6, or 9:
Reports must be filed between February 21, 2020 and February 21, 2022.
· Block numbers ending in 0, 7, or 8:
Reports must be filed between February 21, 2021 and February 21, 2023.
· Block numbers ending in 1, 2, or 3:
Reports must be filed between February 21, 2022 and February 21, 2024.
Should a property have two or more buildings that are also taller than six stories and occupying different block numbers, the owner has the option to:
1) The buildings can be filed separately based on the last digit of their block numbers.
2) The group of buildings can be filed together under the filing window for any one of the buildings (With the understanding that the DOB must be notified of this at least 180 days before the end of the filing window chosen).
Important Note: Buildings that filed together in this manner for the 7th Cycle FISP must continue to file under the same window during subsequent inspection cycles.
A new building falls within the standard FISP reporting requirement once the first five years have passed since the initial Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO) was issued. An owner must comply with the first filing deadline for that property that occurs after the five-year TCO milestone has been reached (or the Final CO in the rare cases where a TCO was never issued).
Facade inspection reports (TR6) must be filed no later than 60 days after the engineer or architect conducts the final inspection and no later than one year after the hands-on examination.
Buildings cannot skip an inspection cycle, regardless of how much time has passed since their respective deadline. Should an inspection report not be filed for the previous cycle, the DOB will issue a "No Report Filed" violation. Once the report has been filed, the DOB may then retroactively issue a base penalty of up to $1,000 for filing late, plus up to $250 per month past the filing deadline.
Updated rules require railings and their connections present anywhere on a building taller than six stories to be evaluated for structural soundness as a part of the Facade Inspection Safety Program.
Should railings and their connections be deemed unsafe, the architect/engineer is required to submit an Unsafe Notification and the repairs be made as necessary.
An Amended Report changes the status of a previously filed Unsafe Report to either SWARMP or Safe. A Subsequent Report changes the status of a previously filed SWARMP report to Safe.
A sidewalk shed must stay in place until either of the following two conditions are satisfied:
1. An Amended FISP Report is filed and accepted by the DOB, upgrading the building status from UNSAFE to either SAFE or SWARMP.
2. A DOB inspector inspects and determines that no unsafe conditions remain and authorizes complete or partial removal of the shed before filing and acceptance of the Amended Report.
The DOB requires a $265 fee for the initial filing and $100 for Amended or Subsequent Reports.
There is also a fee of $135 for filing for a 90-day extension (FISP1) to repair unsafe items.
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