Local Law 10 of 1980 was enacted shortly after a piece of terra cotta masonry fell from the facade of an Upper West Side building and killed a passing college student.
The New York City Council, in an effort to minimize the chances of such accidents ever recurring, mandated that owners of applicable buildings must have their exterior walls and appurtenances periodically inspected by a licensed professional engineer or registered architect. A report based on this critical examination must be filed with the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB). The law applies to buildings with at least six stories above a basement. All portions of exterior walls within 25 feet of the street line are affected.
Periodic inspections and reports are required at least once every five years, or cycle. During each cycle, there exists a two year window for filing. We are currently within the window of the fourth cycle, which opened on February 21, 1995, and will close on February 21, 1997.
Conditions Requiring Action
The professional performing the critical examination must categorize any observed defects as either unsafe or precautionary. An unsafe condition is defined as a condition of either the structure of a building or any appurtenances thereto that is dangerous to the public or property and requires prompt remedial action. In such a case, the law requires that building owners begin repairs immediately. Unsafe conditions must be corrected within 30 days from the filing of the Critical Examination report, but an extension of up to 90 days may be granted by the DOB Commissioner, if certain conditions are met.
A precautionary condition is defined as a condition that, if not treated, may lead to an unsafe condition. The building owner is responsible for ensuring that precautionary conditions are periodically checked and/or repaired, and do not deteriorate into unsafe conditions before the next critical examination.