Amendment of Rules Governing Exterior Wall Inspections and Repairs

Adopted Rules: Closed to Comments

Effective Date: 
Thursday, February 20, 2020

Statement of Basis and Purpose of Rule


The purpose of these rule amendments is to clarify the qualifications and responsibilities of qualified exterior wall inspectors, as well as the requirements for exterior wall inspections and repairs.  Recent inspections have revealed significant deficiencies in façade compliance reporting by registered design professionals; therefore, the Department is enhancing the qualified exterior wall inspector qualifications, inspection requirements and civil penalties against owners to ensure public safety.


The rule:

  • adds new requirements regarding the experience and responsibilities of the Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector (QEWI) to ensure inspectors have appropriate knowledge of exterior walls and how to conduct inspections of those walls; 
  • expands the list of who can perform inspection tasks; 
  • adds a new requirement that owners post and maintain the building facade status in the lobby in a manner similar to elevator certificates, to alert the building occupants of the exterior wall status; 
  • adds a new requirement for close-up inspections to be performed at intervals of not more than 60’-0” fronting each public right-of-way in order to allow for more thorough inspections of the exterior wall; 
  • clarifies which façade elevations are required to have close-up inspections; 
  • adds a new requirement that the QEWI probes whether ties are present and in good condition at cavity wall buildings in every odd cycle because there have been recent failures of cavity walls due to missing or deficient ties; 
  • adds exceptions to the requirement for probes; 
  • requires photographic evidence of close-up inspections in progress to guard against false filings; 
  • increases civil penalties because the increased responsibilities for the building owners require corresponding increases in the penalties.  Comments received at the public hearing favored the Department’s taking additional enforcement actions against noncompliant owners by increasing penalties from what they were in the proposed rule.  In response, the penalty for failure to file is being increased from $2,000 to $5,000 and the monthly penalty for late filing is doubled; 
  • adds a new civil penalty for failure to correct “safe with a repair and maintenance program” (SWARMP) conditions to compel owners to maintain exterior walls in a safe condition; 
  • modifies the criteria for waiving civil penalties; and 
  • makes plain language revisions throughout. 

The Department of Buildings’ authority for this rule is found in sections 643 and 1043 of the New York City Charter and Article 302 of Title 28 of the New York City Administrative Code.


New material is underlined.

[Deleted material is in brackets.]