NYC develops proactive building inspection system to prevent structural collapse

The Department of Buildings (DOB) in New York City (NYC) will now be required to establish a proactive inspection program to identify hazardous building conditions. The NYC City Council passed a bill June 20, 2024, to protect residents and identify buildings prone to collapse.

The DOB has developed a risk-based structural inspection system to determine the likelihood of a building’s structural collapse. The system created a risk score based on several factors that allow the DOB to assess if a building is at-risk and endangering its inhabitants:

  • Building information and characteristics such as age, occupancy type, ownership and construction material.
  • Permit history.
  • Violation history.
  • Applicable compliance filings.
  • Disciplinary history of registered design professionals, contractors or licensees.
  • Relevant 311 complaints.
  • Neighboring site characteristics and construction activity.
  • Any other factors the commissioner determines.

Following the assessment, the DOB will inspect those with high-risk scores. In addition to the at-risk assessment, the agency will develop rules for when corrective action plans are necessary after each inspection. Registered design professionals will then create and submit a plan to the DOB outlining the violations, relevant documents and when repairs will be completed.

The DOB will perform a follow-up inspection after the action plan has been received. This allows the DOB to verify that the corrections have been completed and the building’s structure is no longer at-risk of failure.

The NYC City Council created the bill in response to a building collapse in winter 2023 that left several families displaced. The legislation will take full effect 180 days after it becomes official law.

Photo courtesy of New York City’s Department of Buildings

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