Almost every co-op and condo board member, as well as the board manager, is now aware of Local Law 11 inspections. The law, as well as its predecessor, Local Law 10, was adopted to construct building by facade restoration contractor which is safer for pedestrians below.
Local Law 11 presently applies to around 12,500 buildings in the city, including condominiums and cooperatives.
Local Laws 10 and 11 were driven by tragedy, as were many other laws and regulations. After a Barnard College student was murdered by a piece of terra cotta that fell from a building in May 1979, then-Mayor Ed Koch enacted and signed Local Law 10 into law in 1980.
Under that rule, the facades of buildings with more than six stories had to be inspected and certified as safe every five years by a professional engineer or architect. Serious flaws had to be fixed, and the structure had to go through another inspection.
Other mishaps later led to efforts to strengthen Local Law 10, including the death of a 16-year-old student struck by a falling brick, a parapet collapsing in the back of a building, and a shower of debris falling from an office building on Madison Avenue. Local Law 11 was issued in 1998 as a result.
According to Wayne Bellet, president of Manhattan-based Bellet Construction Inc., one of the primary differences between Local Law 10 and Local Law 11 was that under Local Law 10, only the front façade and side walls up to 25 feet from the street had to be inspected. On the other hand, under Local Law 11, all of the building's facades must be assessed.
One more difference between LL10 and 11 is that under Local Law 10, facade inspections didn’t even have to be done from a scaffold—they could have been done as a “visual inspection” from nearby, with binoculars or a telescope.
Under LL 10, an architect or engineer could also choose to inspect conditions from a building's exterior fire escape. Under Local Law 11, that all changed.
Under Local Law 11, there are various problems about which buildings must be inspected. Buildings with more than six stories above the basement are subject to the law.
There's a difference between a "basement," which is more than half above grade level, and a "cellar," which is 50 percent or more below grade level and not counted as a story, according to architect David May of Manhattan-based SUPERSTRUCTURES Engineers + Architects.
Broken down in a cycle:
Inspections under Local Law 11 are organized into cycles. The seventh cycle of Local Law 11 is now underway. Inspections for Cycle 7 began on February 10, 2010, and will end on February 21, 2013.
However, unlike in the past, this cycle has been divided into three staggered sub-cycles, with buildings being identified and assigned to one of these sub-cycles based on the final digit of their block number (as in "block and lot number").
According to May, the second sub-cycle began in February and will end in August 2012. If this sounds complicated, go to the SUPERSTRUCTURES website's Local Law 11 section to learn more.
The use of "carryover" conditions from prior inspections is another way that criteria have been strengthened. “Buildings could carry over the same laundry list' [of issues that had to be rectified] every time,” adds Varone, assuming a situation wasn't strictly harmful. Conditions might be classified as “safe,” “unsafe,” which stands for “Safe with a Repair and Maintenance Program” in Local Law 11 lingo.
When an actually hazardous (as opposed to administratively) issue is detected during an inspection, the DOB will dispatch its own inspector to investigate. The inspector will still issue one or more DOB violations even if repairs are in process and proper safety measures are in place.
These citations, according to the SUPERSTRUCTURES website, are primarily intended to track cases and encourage speedy repairs. Environmental Control Board (ECB) breaches that are more serious generally result in court appearances and penalties, which are inconvenient for building managers or officials. If a DOB inspector discovers that repairs are not in progress and necessary precautions are not in place after reinspecting a dangerous condition.
Remember the Law:
The majority of the time, building managers is encouraged to address issues discovered by contractors and inspectors as soon as possible. “While the contractors were there [performing a Local Law 11 inspection], we bid on a new roof, which was needed, and also inquired for a quote for a roof deck,” May, who is also president of his own 215-unit co-op in Midtown, recalls. We ended up with a code-compliant façade, as well as a roof and roof deck.” Because the co-op didn't have to pay for another rigging team to go up to examine the roof for the repair and deck project, it ended up paying less.
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