NEW YORK, N.Y. – Changes are coming as a result of Nov. 8, 2022 amendments to the building code. One of the recommendations that came out of investigations into the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers one and two, as well as the loss of building seven, was that the building code needed to be updated more regularly.
The city council passed a law that required a cycle of sorts to update the building code, so we had the 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 amendments and then we had 2014. Now we’ve got 2022. It’s an involved cycle that requires appointment and advisory committees of construction professionals, as well as the involvement of specialty organizations such as the American Concrete Institute.
Local architects and engineers get a seat at the table. Some of the lawyers get a seat at the table. They begin to look at the building code, data on injuries, damage to buildings, and all sorts of safety issues—and that’s the starting point. How do we make this a safer industry? How do we make it safer for the people in the buildings? How do we move with the times? There were a series of huge amendments in the area of accessibility and energy. Separate and apart from this, there were a lot of safety changes.
The most interesting changes have to do with protection of adjacent property. For many years, the New York state building department sort of automatically tried to bully property owners into allowing developers to underpin their property. The city thought that was the safest thing to do. What the city has discovered in collecting data over the last few years is that these underpinning operations have been a train-wreck. There’s been a huge amount of damage, so they have started to change that process.
Now developers who want to build close to their neighbors have to do assessments of their neighbor’s buildings. First they have to assess the building, then they have to evaluate the building. They have to come in with plans that can no longer be cookie cutter. They have to actually be geared to the building. Underpinning is the best solution.
The larger question centers on whether New York is allocating its resources well. It’s a question I posed in a Linked-In post. I asked; How should we be spending our building department resources? On trying to figure out how to tax co-ops and condos more? Or should we actually be trying to worry about building safety?
Carol A. Sigmond is a partner at Greenspoon Marder LLP, New York, N.Y. Sigmond appeared in the May 2023 issue of Third Thursday with an article about the new NY law to ban gas in new buildings. Check out Sigmond’s no-holds barred analysis HERE.