Swinging Off of Skyscrapers Maintaing your exterior facade

 Every time a co-op or condo building needs exterior  work - an occurrence more regular now than a quarter century  ago - a group of highly-trained, highly-specialized, and extremely  brave professionals arrive to carry out the project. They set up  scaffolding, lower swinging platforms, use heavy, often dangerous,  equipment and supplies with the goal of providing a façade facelift  or complete overhaul.

 Just as New York's landscape continually changes,  so too have the exterior maintenance trades. Heights have escalated,  materials have changed, regulations have become far stricter, and the pace  of work in a hot real estate market has multiplied. For boards and managing  agents faced with a façade refurbishment project, it's a smart  idea to get an understanding of the regulations and the players - and  their training and licensing - who will be involved in the project.

 Building History

 In 1979, a piece of terra cotta masonry fell from the  facade of an Upper West Side building and killed a passing college student.  This tragedy provided the impetus for the city to take action to  redress a glaring deficiency: the lack of oversight over building  exteriors.

 "It used to be that the decision to make repairs  to the façade was the decision of the individual buildings and  owners," says Michael Grant of Accura Restoration Inc. in Astoria.  "Obviously, this didn't work very well. If you were on  Central Park West, or on Park Avenue, they took care of the  building," he says, but otherwise, not so much.

 The city government that often moves at a glacial pace  reacted swiftly and decisively, enacting Local Law 10 the following year,  1980. The new law, known as Local Law 10/80, required buildings to  fix unsafe facades as soon as discovered, among other new rules.  

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