As a direct response to the tragic Champlain Towers South condominium collapse in South Florida this past summer that killed nearly 100 people, Jersey City’s City Council recently passed an ordinance requiring regular facade and structural inspections.
According to a press release from New York-based RAND Engineering & Architecture DPC, a firm with client communities across the tristate area, “The new legislation, written to further protect Jersey City buildings and its residents, mandates structural inspections of concrete buildings taller than six stories every 10 years. This requirement includes inspections of foundations, balconies, all structural members, and waterproofing. The initial inspection must be completed by December 31, 2022.”
The RAND statement goes on to say that the ordinance “also requires facade inspections of buildings taller than six stories and masonry facade buildings four stories or taller every five years. The inspection must include all exterior walls and appurtenances. Initial inspections must be completed by December 31, 2023,” and stipulates that all inspections must be conducted by a licensed architect or professional engineer.
The new ordinance is modeled on New York City’s facade inspection laws - more commonly known as the Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP) which was first enacted in 1980. According to RAND, “Written inspection reports prepared by an architect or engineer must be submitted to the Division of the Construction Code Official within 30 days of the inspection. The reports must:
Certify the results of the inspection.
Clearly document the condition of the building’s structure (in the case of a structural inspection) or building’s facade (for facade inspections), and note the conditions as safe or unsafe.
If needed, provide repair and maintenance recommendations, including a timeline for which all repairs must be made.
According to RAND, “If repairs are required, the building owner or board must immediately undertake any measures necessary to secure public safety, and make the repairs within the timeline set forth in the inspection report. Once repairs are completed, a new inspection must be completed and an amended inspection report submitted within 30 days.”
While the cost of the mandatory inspections will of course vary based on the inspecting professional’s fee and the size, type, and age of a building, the RAND release notes that the municipal filing fee is $100 per structural inspection report; facade inspection reports are also $100, with “Specific rules detailing inspection, reporting, and repair requirements [are to] be determined by the Division of the Construction Code Official and [will be] announced in the months to come.”