Local Law 11 is the current building code imposed by the state of New York. Prior to 1998 there were a plethora of accidents involving faulty buildings constructed which led to deaths and injuries of many. These tragedies became the foundation of a tighter, more efficient, and safer building code. Under Local Law 11 all facades of the building must be inspected from bottom to top. This is a huge advancement in the face of construction safety as prior to this a building only needed to be inspected up to 25 feet off the ground. Additionally, Local Law 11 has more intense inspection processes compared to its former constituent. To elaborate, under the previous law an inspection may have been completed by eyesight which was considered inadequate. Today however, physical inspections must be completed, involving the use of scaffolds. Currently this law is only in effect for buildings which rise six or more levels off the basement.
Approximately, every two to three years we enter a new inspection cycle under Local Law 11. The first cycle began with its inception in 1998 and we are currently in the eighth cycle of Local Law 11. The technology boom of the turn of the millennium has affected the Department of Buildings work with high praise. This is because of the way in which the DOB tracks and handles all of the buildings under its jurisdiction. The new software allows the organization to track all buildings with regard to there status of meeting the code. If a building is in need of repairs, or infrastructure upgrades they can be addressed in a timely manner with specific deadlines set to have additions or repairs completed.
One of the greatest changes to the law made was that of architectural participation. In the past the architects who designed a building and the engineers who manage it would receive notices in regards to the inspections and would only need to approve, comment on, or assist in the handling of paperwork needed to make changes. However, today the law requires the responsible parties to actually join with the department of buildings on site, during the inspections in order to create not only a better understanding of developments but in order to spur further improvement in a timely manner. In regards to conditions assessed by the department of buildings there have been vast improvements on what’s considered safe as well. In the past when a building was determined to be unsafe the reasons stated could be carried over year to year with little to no improvement as long as they were consistently held as below meeting code. Today, this has changed under Local Law 11 conditions observed can be labeled as safe, unsafe or needing repairs to be safe.
What’s truly monumental about this change is that if the same conditions are attempted at being left undone year after year the conditions will be labeled immediately as unsafe even if they aren’t life threatening conditions. This apprehensive approach means that there is a steeper definition of what’s considered safe requiring building managers to step up design keeping us safer. There have also been improvements made to the actual process of overseeing these changes. Local Law 11 requires that any building which is over 14 levels has to have a certified site safety manager in New York City. Interestingly, the law now provides some framework for the installation of window air conditioning units as well. In the past these units were acceptable as simply hanging out the window up until one fell into the street spurring advancement. The new result is that these units are not acceptable without an outside structure to keep them from falling outside known as a bracket.
In the event that an incredibly unsafe attribute is discovered the Department of Buildings will take the initiative and send one of its own inspectors to the building. Regardless of the current progress on repairs, improvement, or additions the inspector is encouraged to issue several violations of code. These violations often result in hefty fines, court appearances, and possibly other penalties. This is important because this serves as personal encouragement inconveniencing the building owner to seek the desired improvements as soon as possible.
Overall, Local Law 11 is a vast improvement on the integrity of buildings across New York State. This new law changes the definition of safe for everyone allowing more action on part of the state. At Expedite Construction you can rest assured that we take great pride in the enforcement and application of Local Law 11.