By: Michael Frech
Many building owners and property managers view the Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP) reports as a necessary nuisance, when in fact; an accurate FISP (formerly Local Law 11/98) report is a roadmap to a buildingas good health. All deficient conditions are identified, along with the timeframe in which they must be remedied. The building owner then has the ability to put a fiscal plan in place to address the issues in a timely manner and can feel confident that the building is in good health. On the other hand, an inaccurate FISP report can lead to a false sense of security that a building is in good health. This can possibly lead to future financial implications and unexpected safety concerns.
Much like an illness, facade issues are most manageable when they are addressed early. Remedies can be simple and straightforward, for example, the existing mortar and/or sealant might need to be removed and replaced, a lintel may need to be painted, the parapet coping may need new mortar pointing or sealant, etc. These facade repairs are relatively quick, easy and inexpensive to perform. If these basic repairs are omitted from a FISP report and therefore not addressed until the next cycle (5-7 years later), the damage and costs can grow exponentially. The unreported and unaddressed mortar replacement in Cycle 7 can lead to required brick or lintel replacement in Cycle 8. The unreported and unaddressed missing sealant or mortar at the parapet in Cycle 7, could lead to brick replacement, steel repair, entire parapet replacement, and even a partial roof replacement.
It is unfortunate how often a decision for the professional that will be retained to perform a FISP inspection is based on a small cost savings now, as opposed to the long term value and future cost savings in the future that can be realized by a thorough FISP inspection, report and maintenance plan.
A FISP report should provide an accurate and thorough assessment of a building so that smart capital expenditure decisions can be made. The response to addressing facade repairs is often, aWe canat afford it right nowa, however; the reality is that ownership probably canat afford to wait.
A thorough and detailed FISP report provides another benefit that often goes unnoticed by building Owners. A detailed report will be very specific in the conditions identified and the exact location, and, preferably will include photos of all/most conditions. Conversely, a vague report may simply state the elevation or floor that a deteriorated condition occurs. While performing an inspection, it is required that the QEWI (Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector) review the report from the prior cycle and verify that all unsafe or SWARMP conditions were addressed. On many occasions, we have reviewed the previous cycle reports that merely identify the condition and a vague location (e.g. deteriorated mortar, 8th floor) and do not include a photo of this condition. As a result, it is difficult to determine if deteriorated mortar observed anywhere on the 8th floor occurred since the last cycle and is, therefore, SWARMP or is the same condition from the prior report that was never addressed and is now unsafe. Obviously, this can have a huge financial implication on the building Owner.
Lastly, a report prepared and filed by an inexperienced design professional can lead to improperly classifying safe conditions as SWARMP or SWARMP conditions as unsafe, resulting in unnecessary accelerated repair timelines. Owners should consider all potential financial implications of selecting a design professional based on initial cost alone, as a savings of $1,000 now can lead to an added cost of $100,000, or more, in the not too distant future.