For several decades, periodic inspection of the exteriors of buildings taller than six stories has been required by New York City, first under Local Law 10 and then under Local Law 11 passed in 1998, notes Ira Meister, founder and CEO, Matthew Adam Properties, Inc. The 1998 law upgraded and expanded the requirements of Local Law 10 and came after masonry fell from the side of a building at 540 Madison Avenue. Local Law 10 was passed after falling masonry killed a pedestrian near Columbia University.
Meister said we are now completing the seventh cycle of inspections that started with Local Law 10. “The purpose was to correct unsafe conditions on building exteriors,” Meister said. “One of the costs involved with the inspection or repairs is erecting a sidewalk bridge.”
Most owners, boards and property managers believe the sidewalk bridge is required for all repairs, but Matthew Adam Properties discovered this is not always the case.
“We manage a building in midtown and believed that under provisions of the New York City Building code a sidewalk bridge was not necessary for the needed repairs,” Meister said “We met with the Department of Buildings and pointed out to them provisions of section 3307.3.1 of the department’s code.”
The code states that a sidewalk bridge is required when the portion of the structure being altered or repaired is over 40 feet above curb level and the horizontal distance from the portion of the structure to the inside edge of the sidewalk, walkway or temporary walkway is less than one-half the height of the structure being repaired.
“In our building, the area being repaired was the chimney, which is 16.5 feet high,” Meister said. “The distance from the chimney to the edge of the roof is 35 feet.” Thus, the distance between the chimney and the edge of the roof, was more than twice the height of the chimney and no sidewalk bridge was required, saving the co-op the expense.
“We showed the city in this instance that the code it was enforcing did not apply to this repair project,” Meister said.