The Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) administers two facade-related ordinances for the City of Philadelphia, one for exterior walls and appurtenances and another for fire escapes and fire escape balconies. The L&I Department is located at 1401 John F. Kennedy Boulevard, Public Services Concourse, Philadelphia, PA 19102-1687. The two ordinances are described on L&I’s Permits & Certificates website.
The Periodic Inspection of Exterior Walls and Appurtenances ordinance, which was approved by City Council on February 4, 2010, and signed by the Mayor on February 17, 2010, amended Title 4 of The Philadelphia Code (The Philadelphia Building Construction and Occupancy Code) by amending subcode "PM" (The Philadelphia Property Maintenance Code). This ordinance requires the periodic inspection of the exterior walls and appurtenances of certain buildings, the filing of inspection reports, and the repair and maintenance of certain conditions discovered during such inspections. In 2014, the requirements were moved to Section PM-315, Periodic Inspection of Exterior Walls and Appurtenances of Buildings (PDF) of chapter 3, "General Property and Structural Maintenance." The City maintains an FAQ document that provides answers to pertinent questions.
The fire escape ordinance, which was approved by City Council on June 16, 2016, and signed by the Mayor on June 28, 2016, amends The Philadelphia Building Construction and Occupancy Code by amending Section PM-702 of subcode “PM” and Section F-1011 of subcode “F” (The Philadelphia Fire Code). Similar to the facade ordinance, the fire escape ordinance requires the periodic inspection of fire escapes and fire escape balconies, the filing of inspection reports, and the repair and maintenance of certain conditions discovered during such inspections. Fire escape inspection reports are submitted separately from facade inspection reports. The City maintains a separate FAQ document for the fire escape ordinance.
Philadelphia's facade ordinance is applicable to all buildings six or more stories in height; all buildings with any appurtenance in excess of sixty feet in height; and any building, other than one- or two-family dwellings, greater than two stories located in specific areas that are yet to be determined. For affected buildings, the required facade inspections shall be conducted and reports completed no later than:
Construction dateInitial reportNext reportPrior to and including 1950June 30, 2011June 30, 20161951–1970June 30, 2012June 30, 20171971–1980June 30, 2013June 30, 20181981–1990June 30, 2014June 30, 20191991–2005June 30, 2015June 30, 20202006 and laterSee belowSee below
A waiver may be applied for if all facades of an affected building have been "substantially restored" within the five-year cycle preceding a required inspection. For all other buildings, the first inspection shall be conducted, and required report shall be filed, within ten years after issuance of a certificate of occupancy. Following the initial inspection, an affected building shall be reinspected, and the required report shall be filed, on a five-year cycle based on the original schedule. For example, per the ordinance, a building constructed in 2006 would require facade inspections to be performed and reports to be filed in 2018, 2023, etc.
For facade inspections, the professional is required to be a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania licensed professional engineer experienced in the practice of structural engineering or a licensed registered architect knowledgeable in the design, construction, and inspection of building facades. The professional is to employ the appropriate professional standard of care to detect distressed conditions.
The ordinance requires the inspector to classify the facade as Safe, Safe with Repair and Maintenance Program, or Unsafe. The facade inspection report submitted is to include seventeen items of specific information as described in the ordinance.
Philadelphia’s fire escape ordinance applies to all buildings with fire escapes and fire escape balconies. The ordinance defines a fire escape as “A system of metal landings, balconies, stairs or ladders attached to a building that are not classified as an exterior stairway and are intended or designed to aid in egress from a building in an emergency.” A fire escape balcony is defined as “A balcony that projects from the building face and is intended for use in conjunction with a fire escape, an exit stair or an area of refuge.”
For affected buildings, the initial inspection shall be conducted, and the required report shall be filed, on or before July 1, 2017. A waiver may be applied for if the fire escapes and fire escape balconies of an affected building have been “substantially restored” within one year preceding the required initial inspection. Each subsequent inspection shall be completed, and the required report shall be filed, within five years of filing the previous inspection report.
If the construction of the fire escape or fire escape balcony was completed after July 1, 2007, the first inspection shall be conducted within ten years after completion of construction. For example, per the ordinance, a building constructed in 2008 would require fire escape inspections to be performed and reports to be filed in 2018, 2023, etc.
For fire escape inspections, the professional is required to be a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania licensed professional engineer experienced in the practice of structural engineering.
The report requires the inspector to classify fire escapes and fire escape balconies as Safe, Safe with a Repair and Maintenance Program, or Unsafe. The fire escape inspection report submitted is to include sixteen items of specific information as described in the ordinance.
The Inspectional Services Department administers the facade ordinance for the City of Boston. The department is located at 1010 Massachusetts Avenue, Fifth Floor, Boston, Massachusetts 02118; telephone: 617.635.5300. Sections 9-9.12 of the Boston Building Code entitled “Inspection of Exterior Walls and Appurtenances of Buildings Requiring Periodic Inspection” are applicable.
Buildings over seventy (70) feet in height, or classified as a high rise structure, and excluding residential buildings that are classified as three family, two family, or single family except as required by the commissioner require inspection. Inspection of an occupied structure is required at least once every five (5) years and in the case of an unoccupied structure at least once a year. Inspection required by registered architect or engineer.
The Department of Buildings (DOB) administers the facade ordinance for the City of Chicago. The DOB is located at 2045 West Washington Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60612. The website for the DOB’s Exterior Wall Program includes downloadable forms that are required to be submitted by the licensed professional completing the inspection. The site also includes the ordinance titled "Maintenance of Exterior Walls and Enclosures" (PDF) and "Rules for Exterior Wall Maintenance" (PDF). The current facade ordinance was adopted in 1996 and the most recent revision of the ordinance became effective April 1, 2008. The most recent revision of the Rules became effective on March 1, 2016.
Chicago's facade ordinance is applicable to building enclosures and exterior walls that are eighty (80) feet or more in height.The ordinance term "exterior walls and enclosures" refers to the exterior envelope of a building or structure, or any part thereof. With regard to “appurtenances,” including balconies, fire escapes, chimneys, hanging air-conditioners, marquees, at-grade canopies, signs, flagpoles, fire escapes, and window washing and exterior maintenance systems, the Rules limit the scope of the inspection to a visual examination of the surface of the exterior wall where appurtenances are in contact with the wall, and their impact, if any, on the integrity of the exterior wall.
Buildings are classified into four categories based on the exterior wall attachment system and the corrosion potential of any metal that is in direct contact with the exterior wall materials. Inspection intervals and the extent of the inspection effort are dependent on the building classification.
Critical examinations, which require hands-on inspection on one 24 foot long scaffolding per elevation, are required at four, eight, or twelve years depending on the building classification. Critical examinations also require one inspection opening per elevation on buildings fifty (50) years or older for cladding that consists of masonry, stone or terra cotta that is affixed to the building structure with concealed corrodible or corrosion-resistant metal fasteners.
In addition to the critical examinations, building owners are required to submit an ongoing inspection and repair program report to the city at the halfway point of the critical examination cycle. Hands-on inspections of the facade are not required for the ongoing inspection.
Under the March 1, 2016 Rules and Regulations, owners may choose to file Ongoing Inspection and Repair Program (“Short Form”) reports every second year and not file Critical Examination Program reports at category mandated frequencies, regardless of building category, provided that none of the following criteria apply:
The “Short Form” Program was originally introduced in 2009. Owners of a building that meets any of the above criteria are ineligible to file an Ongoing Inspection and Repair Report “Short Form” and shall be required to file a Critical Examination Report.
The report for either the critical inspection or ongoing inspection requires the inspector to classify the facade as Safe,
Safe with Repair and Maintenance Program, or Unsafe and Imminently Hazardous. A special form is required for submission of an Ongoing Inspection and Repair Program report and a special format is required for the Critical Examination Program report.
On October 19, 2016, the City of Cincinnati passed Ordinance 329-2016, which requires that the facades of tall buildings of advanced age are maintained in a safe condition and do not pose public safety hazards. Ordinance 329-2016 also ordained the Cincinnati Municipal Code to include a new chapter entitled “Chapter 1127, General Inspection Programs.”
The Ordinance applies to all buildings that have an age since completed construction of fifteen years or more and all, or a portion of which, is at least five stories or at least sixty feet above established grade, whichever is less. For more information, see Sec. 1127-03. - Facades of Tall Buildings.
The owner or person in control of a building subject to the ordinance shall cause an examination of the building’s facade to be performed by a professional who is a registered architect or engineer authorized to practice in the State of Ohio. Each professional conducting a facade examination shall prepare a written inspection report to document the findings of the examination. Each report shall be prepared with the understanding that, because of the physical properties of the many materials commonly used for constructing facades, and the limitations on detecting concealed internal wall distress, the report might not document all "unsafe and imminently hazardous" conditions in facades that are not visible from the exterior. Therefore, an inspection report shall not constitute a representation that all "unsafe and imminently hazardous" conditions in the facade that is the subject of the report have been identified.
City of Cleveland Ordinance Number 1533-15 was passed by City Council on April 4, 2016. The legislation became effective on June 6, 2016. The facade of applicable buildings at least 50 years old must have an inspection complete and report filed with the City within one year; buildings between 30 and 50 years old must complete the same within two years. For buildings that have had an inspection meeting the requirements listed in the Ordinance within the last five years prior to the adoption of the ordinance, a report may be filed based on the previous inspection.
The Department of Building and Housing administers the facade ordinance for the City of Cleveland. The department is located in City Hall at 601 Lakeside Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44114, Room 510; telephone: 216.664.2282.
The facade ordinance requirements are listed in new Sections 3143.01 to 3143.04 and 3143.99, Exterior Walls and Appurtenances to the Codified Ordinances of the City of Cleveland.
The Ordinance applies to buildings that are at least five stories or seventy-five feet in height above grade, whichever is shorter, have a protected distance that is equal to or less than the height of the structure, and are thirty years old or older. After the initial inspection, the building facade must be re-inspected every five years.
According to the Ordinance, facade inspections are to "meet or exceed the general inspection standards under the ASTM Standards for Periodic Inspection of Building Facades for Unsafe Conditions contained in Designation E 2270-14. Any areas found to be deficient in the general inspection shall require a detailed inspection.”
Upon completion of the inspection, a summary report form must be filed with the City of Cleveland Director of Building and Housing with information regarding the inspection performed and conditions noted. Upon observation of unsafe conditions, the Director of Building and Housing should be notified immediately.
The Department of Building and Zoning Services administers the facade ordinance for the City of Columbus. The department is located at 757 Carolyn Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43224; telephone: 614.645.6090.
The facade ordinance is provided in the Building Code of the City of Columbus. The provisions that relate to exterior walls and appurtenant structures are listed underChapter 4109 Unsafe Buildings and Conditions.
Buildings twenty years old or older with a facade located within ten (10) feet of a public right-of-way or open pedestrian walkway or plaza require critical inspection every five (5) years. The ordinance does not apply to one-, two- or three-story family residential dwellings or their accessory structures. In addition, critical observations for buildings meeting the above requirements which are three-stories tall or taller and are within a designated downtown area, are required to be conducted by or under the direct supervision of an architect or registered professional engineer who specializes in structural engineering.
The The Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department administers the facade ordinance for the City of Detroit. The department is located at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, 2 Woodward Avenue, Suite 401, Detroit, Michigan 48226; telephone: 313.224.2733.
The facade ordinance provisions are provided in Section 9-1-35, titled “Enforcement; Inspections.”
All buildings 5-stories or greater in height; inspect all roof-mounted structures and every exterior wall of or part of the building's exterior, including connecting bridges, cornices, copings, saves, bays, or similar projections by competent person.
The Commercial Enforcement division of the Department of Neighborhood Services administers the facade ordinance for the City of Milwaukee. The department is located at 841 North Broadway, First Floor, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202; telephone: 414.286.3874.
The provisions of the facade ordinance are listed in Sec. 275-32-13 of the Milwaukee Code of Ordinances Vol. II, effective August 18, 2001. The facade ordinance begins on page 566 of the code or page 16 of the “Facade Inspection Ordinance CH 275” (PDF). The city also provides a “Facade Code with Commentary” (PDF) and a “Special Notice to Owners of Buildings 5 or More Stories."
Buildings fifteen (15) years old or greater and that are five (5) stories or greater require inspection. The city provides a “List of Buildings that are Subject to this Ordinance” (PDF). The frequency of inspection is based on the exterior wall construction and is outlined in the ordinance. Inspection by a registered architect or registered structural engineer in Wisconsin is required.
The city Web site provides a “Facade Report Application” (PDF).
The New York City Department of Buildings (NYC DOB) administers the facade ordinance for the City of New York. The department's Local Law Enforcement
Unit is located at 280 Broadway, New York, New York. For further information or clarifications on the facade ordinance, contact the department at 212.566.5358.
The city’s facade ordinance, officially the Facade Inspection Safety Program
(FISP, previously referred to as Local Law 11), is provided in Section 28-302 of the Building Code of the City of New York. Regulations given in the Rules of the City of New York (1 RCNY 103-04) (PDF) relate to the periodic inspection of exterior walls and appurtenances of buildings in New York City.
The NYC DOB has made a Facade Safety Report available online that summarizes the facade safety status of New York City buildings falling under the facade ordinance inspection program. The site includes interactive graphics tracking facade inspection reports for the public to access.
All buildings at or greater than six (6) stories with a basement, and includes all walls except those within twelve (12) inches of adjacent walls. A basement qualifies as a story, but a cellar does not. Inspection is required at least once every five years. The schedule of the inspection is dependent upon the block number where the building resides.
The submission of all FISP technical reports must be accompanied by the DOB’s TR-6 “Technical Report: Periodic Inspection of Exterior Walls & Appurtenances” (PDF). The report must be sealed by a registered architect or professional engineer and must be submitted as a PDF on CD-ROM or DVD.
The Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections administers the facade ordinance for the City of Pittsburgh. The provisions of the ordinance are provided in the “Property Maintenance Code” of the City of Pittsburgh as amendments 1004.01–1004.02 of the City Building Code, which reference to the 2003 International Property Maintenance Code.
All buildings and structures except Use Group R-3 shall be inspected by a licensed professional engineer or registered architect to determine the structural soundness of items covered in sections 304.8, 304.9, and 304.11, and their reports shall bear their signature and seal. Inspections are required every fifth year after the date of the original inspection.
San Francisco Ordinance #67-16 was passed on April 26, 2016, and approved by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee on May 6, 2016. The ordinance became effective June 5, 2016. The purpose of the facade ordinance is to promote public safety by reducing the risk of death or injury that may result from the effects of deterioration on the exterior facades of buildings.
The Department of Building Inspection
1660 Mission Street, San Francisco, California, 94103
Tel: 415.558.6088 (General Information)
The primary requirements of the ordinance include:
Building Construction DateDeadline for Inspection and Report SubmissionPrior to 1910December 31, 2021Between 1910 and 1925December 31, 2023Between 1926 and 1970December 31, 2025After 1970December 31, 2027
The building construction date refers to the date the Department issued the Certificate of Completion for the original building or other Department documentation showing the date of completion of the original construction, regardless of the dates of any additions or alterations.
After the initial inspection, buildings must be inspected and reports submitted every ten years.
The initial inspections may be waived if the building facade has had a comprehensive inspection and the necessary repair work completed within ten years preceding the due date for the initial inspection. Owners will need to submit documentation to demonstrate that the inspection/repairs were completed.
The inspection procedures are broadly based upon standards developed by ASTM International and issued in ASTM E 2270, “Standard Practice for Periodic Inspection of Building Facades for Unsafe Conditions.”
The facade inspections must include all areas on the exterior of the building, except for horizontal roof areas. The facade includes all exterior walls, windows, balconies, cornices, parapets, and appurtenances. The facade also includes walls supported at roof level, such as penthouse walls, chimneys, and so forth. The San Francisco ordinance also includes attached equipment, decorative elements such as urns, friezes and attached artwork, signs, fire escapes, flagpoles, vents, lights, and other elements that pose a safety hazard if dislodged.
Certain portions of the building facade that do not contribute to a safety hazard or that do not require regular maintenance are exempt from inspections. Examples include narrow alley ways between buildings and courtyards within buildings that do not have access via a door.
The facades of historic buildings must have the inspection and any needed repair work performed by qualified professionals and in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. The Planning Department Preservation Program provides information to understand if a Building qualifies as a historic resource.
The Building Division’s Department of Public Safety administers the facade ordinance for the City of St. Louis. The department is located at City Hall, 1200 Market Street, Room 426, St. Louis, Missouri 63103-2826. The Building Code of the City of St. Louis is the International Building Code, 2009 Edition with changes, including Appendix Chapters E, F, G, H, I and J; as stipulated in City Ordinance 68788.
Exterior cantilevered balconies, stairways and fire escapes shall be inspected every three (3) years by a Missouri licensed design professional. The owner shall submit a report bearing the seal, signature and date of a Missouri licensed professional engineer or architect to the building official describing the condition and safety of the exterior cantilevered balconies, stairways, and fire escapes. This shall apply to all exterior cantilevered balconies, stairways, and fire escapes on all buildings regardless of stories or height.
Cornices, Entablatures, Belt Courses, Trim and Similar Decorative Features; Maintenance repair and safe condition thereof (for such items projecting from the face of buildings); shall be inspected every 3 years. (Applies to all buildings over five (5) stories or sixty (60) feet in height. Owners to submit report bearing the seal, signature and date of a Missouri licensed Professional Engineer or Architect to the building official every three (3) years describing the condition and safety of cornices, entablatures, belt courses, etc. The building official shall waive inspection if feature does not encroach over City of Saint Louis sidewalk, street or alley.)