The new Cycle 9 requirement regarding probes was added as a result of QEWI’s (Qualified Exterior Wall Inspectors) inspection of buildings built during the late 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s when cavity wall masonry construction became popular. What the inspectors have found is that a large majority of these buildings do not have sufficient wall ties, if any at all, as the building code did not have any requirements or inspections for them until the 1968 edition. Therefore, this is not as critical for new buildings as it is for older ones. Additionally, when you look at the Cycle 9 Requirements for probes, there are exceptions one of which specially mentions buildings currently undergoing a repair campaign. NYC DOB States:
(c) Critical examinations
(2) Inspection procedures.
(v) The known history of the building, the nature of the materials used and the conditions observed will dictate the extent of the critical examination. The QEWI must apply a professional standard of care to assess the building’s condition and the individual building systems that comprise the facades, including splitting or fracturing of terra cotta on buildings, cracking of masonry and brick work in brick faced buildings, mortar and other joint materials, loosening or corrosion of metal anchors and supports, water entry or flow within cavities, mineral build-up, coping materials, movement of lintel/shelf angles, and must ascertain the cause of these and such other conditions detected. The QEWI must order any special or additional inspections and/or tests, including sounding procedures, that may be required to support investigations and to determine the causes of any defects. Starting with the ninth cycle, probes must be performed on all cavity wall construction, and, at a minimum, during every subsequent odd-numbered cycle. The QEWI shall determine the location of the probes, which shall be in areas not previously renovated. At a minimum, a single probe must be completed along each required close-up inspection interval. The QEWI must ensure that the number and size of the probes are sufficient to report the presence, condition, and spacing of wall ties. The removal of portions of the façade in order to facilitate the performance of tests may require a permit from the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
The requirement for probes may be waived in the following cases:
When a repair campaign addressing cavity wall ties has been completed within ten (10) years of the filing deadline and the owner or QEWI provides proof of such repair including, but not limited to, photographs, special inspection reports, and construction documents, which must be submitted and found acceptable by the Department.
When the first Temporary Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Occupancy for a new building was issued within ten (10) years of the filing deadline and the owner or QEWI provides evidence of tie installation including, but not limited to, photographs, special inspection reports, and construction documents, which must be submitted and found acceptable by the Department.
Where a QEWI proposes an alternate method of determining tie condition and spacing, which must be submitted and found acceptable by the Department.
This one-time exception would allow other evidence like construction logs, contractors receipts showing purchase of wall ties, photographs etc. to be presented to satisfy the probe requirement. Note: Probes will be required during the next odd-cycle, Cycle 11, to survey the condition of the exterior wall components such as wall ties.
If you have questions regarding new NYC DOB requirements, please reach out to Robert J Stahl Architect at Robert@rjstahlarchitect.com or (212) 737-6487.