NYC Buildings Commissioner Launches No-Penalty Deck And Porch Inspection Program

Every homeowner is required by law to maintain their decks and their properties in a safe condition at all times. To prevent accidents from occurring, on June 21, 2010 the New York City Buildings Department launched the No-Penalty Deck and Porch Inspection Program, an initiative to help property owners throughout the City ensure their decks and porches are structurally sound and in compliance with City regulations.

Under the program, there is no risk or violation for the initial visit by the Department. In the event that repairs are needed, or unsafe conditions that do not present an imminent danger are found, inspectors will defer issuing violations to allow property owners sufficient time to take corrective action. The program ends on August 1, 2010. The No-Penalty Deck and Porch Inspection Program is timed to coincide with the summer months when these structures will be used more frequently. Aging and seasonal changes in weather are significant factors that can make these structures susceptible to deterioration and potential collapse.

The program is similar in purpose to the Buildings Departments no-penalty retaining wall inspection program earlier this year. Retaining walls are designed to hold back soil that would move to a more natural slope or incline if the wall was not in place. Property owners can call 311 to request a free inspection. Department inspectors will conduct visual examinations looking for structural conditions, such as cracking, rotting, failed connections, and other warning signs that can help a property owner avoid a potential structural failure. If dangerous conditions that pose an immediate risk to public safety are detected, the Department will take action to address the structural concerns. The Department defines a deck or porch as an unenclosed, unroofed, relatively level paved or planted area adjoining a building. It is supported by structural framing above the surrounding ground at the level of the first story of a house.

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