Building owners in the City of Philadelphia had better start paying closer attention to what’s on the outside. Earlier this year, Mayor Michael Nutter signed an ordinance — Periodic Inspection of Exterior Walls and Appurtenances of Buildings — amending the City’s Building Construction and Occupancy Code, and mandating periodic inspection and repair of building exteriors. The ordinance also requires owners to file inspection reports with the Department of Licenses and Inspection (DLI). Affected buildings are defined by the ordinance as all buildings that are six stories or higher and all those that have any appurtenances greater than 60 feet in height. While the ordinance could make life more difficult for building owners, it will create opportunities for contractors seeking work in Philadelphia.

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Ordinance Requirements

Pursuant to the newly enacted ordinance, the inspections must be conducted by a “Professional,” defined as a 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 façades.”

The deadlines to complete the first inspections and reports are as follows:

  • June 30, 2011-Buildings constructed prior to 1950 and those with a construction date that cannot be determined
  • June 30, 2012-Buildings constructed between 1951 and 1970
  • June 30, 2013-Buildings constructed between 1971 and 1980
  • June 30, 2014-Buildings constructed between 1981 and 1990
  • June 30, 2015-Buildings constructed between 1991 and 2005
  • For buildings constructed since 2005, the first inspection and report are due 10 years after the issuance of the certificate of occupancy

After the initial round of inspections and reports, inspections must be conducted and reports filed on a 5 year cycle. Owners are responsible for retaining their reports and keeping them readily available for inspection by the DLI. Violations of the ordinance are considered Class III offenses and violators are subject to a fine of $2,000 per violation.

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