Understanding Local Law 11 A Basic Guide to Facade Inspections

Most board members and managers in New York City’s co-op and condo buildings know the drill when it comes to Local Law 11 inspections, meaning inspections of the exterior walls of buildings in the city that are more than six stories. The law and its predecessor, Local Law 10, have been on the books since 1980. The process itself may not have changed but Local Law 11 now has a new official name—the Façade Inspection Safety Program (FISP).

A Little History

The reasons for the facade inspection local laws are straightforward: they were designed to make building facades safe and to protect pedestrians below from falling brick, stone, concrete and other building materials. In this article, we’ll look into the background of the law, what it entails, and, most importantly, how co-ops and condos can prepare for mandated facade inspections.

Like many laws and regulations, Local Laws 10 and 11 were prompted by tragedy. Local Law 10 was passed and signed into law in 1980 by then-Mayor Ed Koch after a Barnard College student was killed in May 1979 by a piece of terracotta that fell from a building.

That law mandated that a licensed engineer or architect inspect the outside of every building’s facade every five years by and certify it as safe. Serious deficiencies must be corrected, and the building given a second inspection to verify those corrective measures.

Sadly, subsequent accidents—including the death of a 16-year-old student who was struck by a falling brick, a parapet collapsing in back of a building, and a shower of debris that fell from an office building on Madison Avenue—caused Local Law 10 to be replaced by the longer reach of Local Law 11, which was passed in 1998 and required the entire perimeter of the building, including courtyards, to be inspected.

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