Retaining Walls


Owners of properties with a retaining wall that faces a public right-of-way and has any portion of the wall extending ten feet or higher must have their retaining wall inspected every five years by a Qualified Retaining Wall Inspector (QRWI) and a condition assessment report of the inspection must be submitted to the Department by the QRWI within 60 days of completing the inspection.

To be qualified as a QRWI, a licensed structural engineer must apply to the Department’s Retaining Wall Unit. See NYC Construction Codes §28-305.1 and 1 RCNY §103-09 for more information. View the current list of qualified QRWIs.


Inspection Cycle

The current inspection cycle (Cycle 2) runs from January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2023.


Staggered Sub-Cycles

Cycles are staggered into five (5) sub-cycles. For retaining walls in the:

Bronx

January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019

Manhattan

January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020

Staten Island

January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021

Queens

January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022

Brooklyn

January 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023


Fees

  • Initial filing: $355.00
  • Amended filing: $130.00
  • Application for extension of time to complete repairs: $260.00

Civil Penalties

  • Late filing: $250.00 per month
  • Failure to file: $1,000 per year
  • Failure to correct an unsafe condition: $1,000 per month (prorated daily)

Retaining Wall Ratings

All retaining walls must be given one of four ratings by the QRWI:

  • Safe
  • Safe with Minor Repairs or Maintenance
  • Safe with Repairs and/or Engineering Monitoring
  • Unsafe

Steps for Compliance

  • Identify if the retaining wall must be inspected. If you have an entire retaining wall or part of a retaining wall on your property and it is ten feet or higher at any point on your property and faces a public right-of-way, you must have the wall inspected by a QRWI, and an assessment report must be submitted by the QRWI to the Department. Owners that share a retaining wall with one or more neighbors may hire one QRWI to inspect the wall.
  • QRWI conducts inspection. The QRWI conducts the inspection and determines rating of wall.
  • QRWI submits condition assessment report and filing fees. Within 60 days after completing the assessment the QRWI must submit a report to the Department that meets, at a minimum, the criteria listed in 1 RCNY §103-09. The filing fees are payable by each property owner the report is submitted for, meaning a wall with multiple owners may have one report submitted for all of the owners but the filing fees must be paid by each individual owner.

Notification of Unsafe Conditions

If at any time an owner discovers an unsafe condition, he/she must:

  • Report the unsafe condition by calling 311
  • If calling from outside NYC call 212-NEW-YORK (212-639-9675).

If during the course of an assessment the QRWI discovers an unsafe condition, the QRWI must:

  • Report the unsafe condition by calling 311
  • If calling from outside NYC call 212-NEW-YORK (212-639-9675)
  • Complete the Notification of Unsafe Conditions form (RWIP3) and email it to DOB’s Retaining Wall Unit at LL37RetainingWalls@buildings.nyc.gov within 24 hours of discovering an unsafe condition and before submitting the inspection report
  • Complete the Retaining Wall Inspection Program and submit the report to the Department based on the completed inspection

Correcting Unsafe Conditions

The owner must:

  • Immediately repair the wall and/or take appropriate measures to secure public safety.

Within two weeks of completing the repairs to correct an unsafe condition, the QRWI must:

  • Inspect the premises
  • Obtain permit sign-offs as appropriate
  • Submit an amended report with the revised rating of the retaining wall. Amended report filing fees are also due at that time.

All repairs to correct an unsafe condition must be completed within 365 days of filing a report of an unsafe condition with the Department. See 1 RCNY §103-09(e) for more detailed information.

If Safe with Repairs and/or Engineering Monitoring rating indicated

  1. If a QRWI determines a retaining wall to be Safe with Repair and/or Engineering Monitoring the QRWI must indicate a time frame within which the recommended repairs should be completed.
  2. The owner of the retaining wall is responsible for ensuring the wall is repaired and restored to a safe condition, and that all actions recommended by the QRWI are completed in the timeframe recommended by the QRWI.
  3. The owner must notify DOB of any deviation from the recommended timeframe and must submit an Initial Extension of Time Request (RWIP1)application to request time or an Additional Extension of Time Request (RWIP2) to request a time extension after the expiration of a previous request. See 1 RCNY §103-09(e) for detailed information.

Submittal Requirements

There are two different types of submittals to the Retaining Wall Unit. The first, is for removing a DOB Retaining Wall Violation the property owner believes was received in error. The second type of submittal is for filing a TR16 Report.

Filing for Removal of a DOB Retaining Wall Violation

If a DOB Retaining Wall Violation was received and you believe it was issued in error, you will need to complete the RWIP11 form and submit it to the Department. Please ensure the form has been signed and you have included a copy of your property survey, with several photographs depicting the location and height of the retaining wall. There is no fee for submitting the RWIP 11 form and associated documents. Email the completed form and documentation to LL37RetainingWalls@buildings.nyc.gov.

TR16 Retaining Wall Filings

TR16 retaining wall filings are required for retaining walls that meet the requirements of 1 RCNY §103-09. The TR16 filing consists of the signed and sealed TR16 form, with a detailed structural assessment report. A partial list of what should be included in the retaining wall structural assessment report is identified in 1 RCNY §103-09 (c) items 1 to 4.

In accordance with 1 RCNY §103-09 (c)(3)(v) at least one cross section of the retaining wall needs to be included with your TR16 filing. Detailed structural engineering calculations must be included with the retaining wall structural assessment report as part of the filing. TR16 reports must be submitted to the Department as pdf files via email at LL37RetainingWalls@buildings.nyc.gov. DVD, CD, flash drive and paper reports will not be accepted.

Retaining Wall Assessment Report submission must comply the following:

  • The TR16 reports must follow specific naming conventions as detailed in the following examples. The file name should consist of the property address, followed by the Building Identification Number (BIN), separated by a hyphen.

EXAMPLES:

  • In 280 Broadway-1079215’ the digits after the hyphen are the BIN.
  • Amended Inspection Reports should include a ‘-2’ at the end: ‘280 Broadway-1079215-2
  • Subsequent inspection reports should include a ‘-S’ at the end: ‘280 Broadway-1079215-S

NOTE: No other characters must be included in file name. The file must be named exactly as shown above.


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