New Rule Requires Annual Parapet Inspections for NYC Buildings
In November 2021, New York City enacted Local Law 126 of 2021, which requires periodic inspections of NYC parking structures. At the same time, the legislation added to the NYC Administrative Code required periodic observation or inspection of building parapets. DOB recently adopted the final rules regarding parapet inspections with an effective date of Sept. 28, 2023.
To allow owners time to prepare, DOB set the start date for the new parapet observations for Jan. 1, 2024. As of Jan. 1, owners must conduct yearly inspections or observations of parapet walls. DOB rules define parapets as “the part of any wall entirely above the roof line.” Unlike the NYC Façade Inspection and Safety Program (FISP), which applies to owners of buildings higher than six stories and requires a façade inspection every five years, this new requirement applies more broadly and imposes an annual duty on owners.
The parapet inspection requirement applies to all buildings in New York City with parapets facing streets, sidewalks, or public right-of-way, regardless of height, except for buildings with a fence or other barrier preventing access to the exterior wall. We’ll go over who should perform the inspection, report requirements, and what owners are required to do if a parapet shows a hazardous or unsafe condition.
According to the final rule, the observation must be performed by a person competent to inspect parapets. The people who may be qualified to inspect include bricklayer, building superintendent, handyman, mason, or a person in a similar construction-related trade, architect, engineer, an inspector working for a New York State-authorized insurance company, a New York State-authorized building inspector, or any other individual capable of identifying hazards on the parapet.
The observation must include close-up inspections of the entire parapet. The close-up inspection may be conducted from a fire escape or roof. The inspection must determine that the parapet is safe, meaning that it is plumb or not leaning, has no excessive deterioration such as cracks or missing bricks, and all attached items such as telecommunications equipment and railings and signs are properly installed and maintained.
If the inspection shows that there are hazardous or unsafe conditions, the person performing the inspection must immediately notify DOB and the owner must immediately install public protection such as a sidewalk shed or netting, and have the unsafe conditions fixed. All unsafe conditions must be corrected within 90 days from the notification to DOB and the public protection measures must remain in place until the unsafe conditions are take care of.
Unlike FISP, owners don’t need to submit parapet observation reports to DOB. Instead, owners must maintain or keep reports for at least six years and provide them to DOB if requested. The report must be prepared by the person performing the inspection or by the owner in consultation with the parapet inspector.
The rules don’t require a specific report format. However, the report must include the following information:
- Building address;
- Name, address, telephone number of the owner;
- Observation date
- Location plan of the parapet(s) observed;
- Construction of the parapet, including but not limited to material, height, and thickness;
- General conditions noted, whether unsafe conditions were found, and actions taken to remedy unsafe conditions;
- Any repairs made to the parapet since the previous report; and
- Dated photos documenting the conditions at the time of observation.