Fix Up, Look Sharp Local Law 11 and Facade Repair

The inspections and repairs required by the city’s Local Law 11 are often viewed by buildings as a costly hassle, but they can also been seen as an opportunity to make necessary improvements to your building’s façade, and to keep the area surrounding your building safe.

As you might suspect, Local Law 11 was preceded by Local Law 10, which was enacted in 1980 and required examinations of the front facades of buildings 80 feet and taller. It was replaced by Local Law 11 in 1998, which required all exposed facades—front, sides and back—of buildings greater than six stories in height to be inspected for any structural deterioration or conditions that could lead to hazards such as falling debris.

According to Howard Zimmerman, president of Howard L. Zimmerman Architects PC in Manhattan, buildings have a two-year window in which to comply with an order to repair or properly maintain a cited façade. Buildings cited in the most recent round of Local Law 11 inspections, which began on February 21st of 2005, have until February of 2007 to complete their required repairs.

According to Wayne Bellet of Bellet Construction in Manhattan, there are three basic categories in which buildings may be identified under Local Law 11. A building could be labeled as Safe, as Unsafe, which means a problem exists that has to be handled immediately, or “Safe with a Repair and Maintenance Program,” or more concisely, SWARMP. A SWARMP classification can either mean that a building is fine, or major or minor repairs need to be made. If so, the building has five years (until the next Local Law 11 cycle) to get repairs done.

We are now in Cycle 6 of Local Law 11, and will be until February 21, 2007. Buildings with conditions previously classified as SWARMP in Cycle 5 must be repaired prior to filing for Cycle 6 or face serious fines and penalties.

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