Mandatory Parking Garage Inspections – are you up-to-date?
May 20, 2020
As a parking garage owner, you may think that parking pricing and maintenance are your two main concerns. However, as of August 2018, New York State amended Title 19 of the NY Code, Rules and Regulations which mandates local governments shall assure that all parking garages in NYS undergo a Condition Assessment at a maximum 3 year inspection cycle similar to the requirements for bridges statewide (2 year maximum inspection cycle) and the NYC Local Law 11 for Façade Inspection and Safety Program (FISP – a 5 year maximum inspection cycle).
While many owners have previously performed inspections without this new requirement, the state-mandated inspection program will give the public added confidence that all parking garages have been routinely inspected and are safe. As with bridges prior to 1979, the absence of rules for condition assessments in local building codes has led to some serious failures which have been a direct result of deterioration not caught by regular inspections.
WHAT TO DO, AND WHEN?
The State’s timeline for conducting an initial condition assessment of all parking garages is as follows:
New parking garages:
• After construction is complete and prior to issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Compliance.
Existing parking garages:
• If originally constructed prior to January 1, 1984, then the inspection must be performed prior to October 1, 2019. If you have not yet had your inspection performed, it’s not too late to get it going! The key is to get the garage inspected and set a baseline for the condition of your garage for the safety of the users.
• If originally constructed between January 1, 1984, and December 31, 2002, then prior to October 1, 2020.
• If originally constructed between January 1, 2003, and August 29, 2018, then prior to October 1, 2021.
The Rule excludes from the definition of “parking garage” (a) “buildings in which the only level used for parking or storage of motor vehicles is on grade; (b) an attached or accessory structure providing parking exclusively for a detached one- or two-family dwelling; and (c) a townhouse unit with attached parking exclusively for such unit.”
The inspection must be completed by a licensed engineer in order to assess the condition of any structural element or secondary/ancillary component to ensure that the structure is in a safe, working condition. All elements of the garage, including drainage, lighting, HVAC, fire protection, communications, architectural components, etc. shall be inspected for condition and for potential operational concerns or deficiencies. The inspection report must include a condition assessment with description, photos and locations of 1) Deterioration or structural distress that could result in an unsafe condition; 2) Conditions which should be immediately remedied to prevent them from becoming unsafe; 3) Unsafe conditions; 4) Conditions that are contributing to deterioration and unsafe conditions.
In addition to the condition assessment, the report must also provide value to the owner in the form of the engineer’s opinion for: 1) Recommended corrective options available, including recommended timeframe to address the condition; 2) Risks of not addressing the deterioration or adverse condition; 3) Recommendations for preventive maintenance, and 4) Recommended timeframe for the next inspection, whether the maximum 3 years or sooner, depending on the conditions observed and the actions taken to resolve them. Design and cost estimates for potential repairs are not part of the report; that would be included in the engineer’s scope for the design of remediation work.
SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOUR MUNICIPALITY?
The inspection, once initiated, can take 1 to 2 weeks to complete depending on the footprint of the building, number of floors, extent of mechanical systems, etc. Delivery of the completed report can be expected 1 to 4 weeks after the field work is completed commensurate with the complexity of the field inspection. The owner then will have an opportunity to meet and discuss the report with the engineer to be clear on the next course of action required.
Ultimately, you will not only resolve safety issues which are active in your garage, but you will also have the building blocks for a maintenance and rehabilitation strategy that will extend the life of your garage while providing a safe environment for your users. Rehabilitation recommendations will also include applications of current repair and protective measures that will save you from major expenses in the long run, including premature replacement of your investment.