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NYC Annual Parapet Inspections Mandate Explained (2024)
1RCNY 103-15

NYC Annual Parapet Inspection
Mandate (2024) Explained

Beginning January 1st, 2024, NYC mandates that all structures equipped with parapets accessible to the public, regardless of their height, undergo an annual inspection under 1RCNY 103-15. Although the current rule does not require a specially certified professional to perform parapets inspections, having a structural engineer perform a comprehensive evaluation of structural integrity ensures safety.

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What is a parapet wall?

A parapet is a low wall usually built along the edge of the roof, terrace, or balcony to act as a guard rail. They are commonly constructed using different materials like reinforced cement concrete, steel, aluminum, or even glass.

What Structures Are Affected?

All public and private buildings with parapets facing a public right-of-way will require annual inspections. It is the responsibility of the building owner to initiate the inspection in accordance with Section 28-301.1.1 of the New York City Administrative Code.

Exceptions of this regulation include detached single- or two-family residences and buildings with exterior walls considered inaccessible to the public right-of-way by barriers such as a fence. Even if the exterior wall is on private property, if a member of the public can freely walk up to the exterior of the building, it is considered publicly accessible and not an exception to an annual inspection.

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What does NYC consider a public right of way?

An exterior wall is considered part of the public right-of-way if accessible to the public, regardless of private property ownership. Buildings with a continuous barrier within a perpendicular distance from the exterior wall that is equal to or less than half the height of the exterior wall must be inspected.

NYC Parapet Compliance

Section 28-301.1.1 of the New York City Administrative Code and Title 1 Section 103-15 of the Rules of the City of New York requires that the inspection must adhere to certain observations and report requirements. The parapet condition assessment covers both physical inspection requirements and procedures for addressing hazardous or unsafe conditions.

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Do all cornices need to be inspected?

Only cornices that are attached to parapet walls are subject to annual inspections as they are considered an appurtenance and deemed essential for thorough evaluation.

Stability Assessments

The structural inspection can be conducted from scaffolding, fire escapes, roofs, or other observation platforms. The inspection must comprehensively assess the parapet’s plumb alignment, deterioration status, and the stability of the associated appurtenances such as cornices, telecommunications equipment, and railings.

The completed report, prepared by or in consultation with the individual performing the inspection, must include details on the parapet’s construction, dated photographic documentation, general conditions, and any repairs undertaken since the last report.

Unlike facade and parking garage inspection reports, the DOB (Department of Buildings) does not mandate a specific format, but a comprehensive list of the report requirements is outlined in RCNY 103-15 (c)(1).

What Happens If Parapet Conditions Are Deemed Unsafe?

Should the parapet exhibit hazardous or unsafe conditions during the inspection, the person completing the inspection must notify the NYC DOB immediately. Additionally, the building owner is required to promptly install public protection measures to ensure public safety and correct the unsafe condition within 90 days. For buildings subject to the Facade Safety Inspection Program, filing an Unsafe Notification (FISP3) in DOB NOW Safety (https://www.nyc.gov/site/buildings/industry/dob-now-safety.page) is also required.

FISP Report Parapet Coverage

The FISP report includes all information required to satisfy rule 1 RCNY 103-15. If a Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP) report is submitted within the same year, no separate Parapet Inspection report needs to be completed. However, a copy of the FISP report must be available upon DOB’s request. 

Timeframes

As this annual regulation becomes effective starting January 1st, 2024, parapet inspections must be finalized by December 31st, 2024, and subsequently on every December 31st thereafter. While no formal submission to the Department of Buildings is mandated, owners must maintain inspection reports for at least six years and must have the report readily available upon request from the DOB to show parapets are regularly maintained, and the overall safety and stability of the structure is maintained.

Why NYC Parapet Inspections Should Be Performed By A Structural Engineer?

Regardless of minimum requirements, it is in the best interest of building owners, operators, and the public, to have an experienced structural engineer perform a detailed parapet inspection to determine any unsafe conditions and provide insights into the necessary actions including emergency measures. Engineers bring specialized qualifications to thoroughly assess structural integrity and safety. Their expertise uniquely equips them to identify potential hazards and provide expert remediation suggestions, ensuring a comprehensive evaluation and safeguarding the structural soundness of the building.

Parapet Inspectors in NYC

McLaren boasts a team of highly skilled parapet inspectors based in our NYC office.