Façade Safety Report


In order to ensure the safety and structural stability of New York City buildings, owners must comply with Local Law 11 of 1998 which requires inspections of building exterior walls and appurtenances of buildings which are greater than six stories in height. General information on façades as well as detailed instructions on façade compliance filings are available on the DOB Façades website.


Owners of more than 14,000 buildings must submit a Façade Inspection Safety Program (FISP) compliance report in five-year cycles. Cycle 7 was the last full cycle completed, ending in 2014. DOB is currently in Cycle 8 which began in 2015.


Inspections are conducted by private qualified registered design professionals who are not DOB employees. The Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector (QEWI) inspects the building façade and assigns the following categories:

  • Safe: No problems and in good condition (OK)

  • Safe With a Repair and Maintenance Program (SWARMP)

  • Unsafe: Problems/defects threaten public safety (UN)


Unsafe façades require public protection such as a sidewalk shed. Façades designated as SWARMP require repairs within one to five years in order to prevent a potential unsafe condition. The following categories of inspection were discontinued after Cycle 4 and are no longer used:

  • Ongoing Maintenance (OM)

  • Precautionary (PR)

DOB categorizes a property as No Report Filed (NR) if no report was submitted.


FAÇADE INSPECTION RESULTS

Approximately 86% of the Cycle 7 façade filings were classified as either Safe (OK) or Safe with a Repair and Maintenance Program (SWARMP). From Cycle 6 to Cycle 7, there was a 3% net increase in the number of buildings required to file. Cycle 8 is currently in progress, therefore there is a large percentage of No Report Filed classifications. The NR category will not be comparable for this group until the filing period ends in 2020.

Status 4 5 6 7 8
OK 24% 47% 51% 49% 10%
SWARMP 4% 52% 41% 38% 7%
NR 1% 0% 5% 7% 76%
UN 0% 1% 2% 7% 6%
OM 26%
PR 45%

WHERE ARE THE SAFE AND UNSAFE FAÇADES IN NYC?

60% of buildings greater than six stories in height are located in Manhattan and therefore most of the façade filings are in Manhattan

The following map provides the location and other information on the filing status of each eligible façade during Cycle 7.


CYCLE 7 FISP CLASSIFICATIONS BY BOROUGH


HOW DO SIDEWALK SHEDS RELATE TO FAÇADES?

As of Feb 1, 2017, there were approximately 7,500 total active sidewalk shed permits city-wide, half of which are in Manhattan. Most of the façades which were filed as Unsafe or SWARMP in Cycle 7 are currently associated with a sidewalk shed as a measure of protection. The map below shows the locations of these sidewalk sheds, which accounts for approximately 22% of the total sheds.


In addition to sidewalk sheds required for Unsafe facades, the majority of sheds are associated with construction-related activity and maintenance. Approximately 25% of the total sidewalk sheds are associated with a large-scale construction project which requires a new building, major alteration (ALT1), or demolition permit. In some cases, these permits are continually renewed at the same site. The current permit age in days is captured in the age tab below, with the larger and darker circles showing the location of older sheds. The size of the sidewalk shed in linear feet is also captured.

The following methodology was used to determine construction-related activity associated with a sidewalk shed:

  • Initial sidewalk shed permits that were issued no more than two years after the most recent NB, ALT1, or Demo permit (initial or renewal) at the same building

The data above reflect active DOB sidewalk shed permits. However, there may be unpermitted sidewalk sheds in the city – just as construction work is sometimes performed without a permit. In cases of illegal, unpermitted sheds or construction work, DOB takes enforcement actions, including violations and stop-work orders, as warranted.


FAÇADE VIOLATIONS

Violations are issued to owners who are not in compliance. Some of the violations issued by the FISP unit include:

  • Failure to File a Façade Technical Report

  • Failure to File and Amended Façade Technical Report

  • Failure to Maintain Building Walls

  • Failure to Protect the Public


Facade Violations by Borough (2010 to 2016)

Borough # Violations % Violations Citywide
Manhattan 2812 51.3%
Bronx 1119 20.4%
Brooklyn 836 15.2%
Queens 683 12.5%
Staten Island 26 0.5%

WHAT RECENT ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS HAVE BEEN IMPLEMENTED?

DOB has launched significant improvements to its Façade Inspection Safety Program. Some of these changes include the following:

  • Established a new system to track all Local Law 11/98 inspection reports (DOB NOW Safety);

  • Proactive inspections on all FISP compliance filings including SAFE and SWARMP submissions;

  • The Department may conduct an inspection of any building that fails to file a timely compliance inspection report (NR), and, if needed, place public protection at the location at the owner’s expense; and

  • Mandated that any building that files a report indicating there are unsafe conditions will be given 90 days to correct these conditions. The owner must install public protection as soon as an unsafe condition is discovered. Again, if the landlord fails to do so, the City will conduct an inspection and, if needed, place public protection at the location at the landlord’s expense.


HOW IS DOB HELPING CUSTOMERS MEET THEIR FAÇADE COMPLIANCE FILING REQUIREMENTS?


DOB NOW: SAFETY

New Electronic Filing Requirement for NYC façade Inspection Safety Program: Beginning September 2016, the New York City Department of Buildings required building owners, managers, and design professionals to use the new online portal DOB NOW: Safety to:

  • Submit façade compliance filings including uploading documents
  • Report unsafe façade conditions
  • Make filing fee payment
  • View the status of a façade compliance filing
  • View and search information related to façade filings and conditions
  • Receive emails at milestones throughout the filing process

HOW WILL DOB IMPROVE FAÇADE SAFETY MONITORING?

GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS

DOB is currently using GIS tools that allow users to create interactive queries and analyze spatial information from maps. Using GIS, DOB inspection staff can aggregate various datasets, historic maps, and field reports. The results can be used to develop risk profiles for specific buildings and identify mitigation strategies.