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In some jurisdictions, routine parking garage assessments may be more than just a good idea – they may be required.
New York State, for example, adopted a rule in late 2018 requiring garage condition assessments, performed by a qualified professional engineer, at least every three years.
While New York State stipulates what should be included in such an assessment, the basics are consistent with typical parking garage surveys, including an evaluation and description of:
• Unsafe conditions.
• Conditions that should be remedied immediately.
• Deterioration and distress that could result in unsafe conditions.
• Problems that are leading to deterioration and hazards.
• Corrective options.
• Recommended timeframe for remediation.
• Risks of not addressing the deterioration and defects.
• Recommended timing of the next parking garage assessment.
Because the new regulation places the burden of instituting, administering, and enforcing the parking garage assessment program on cities, towns, counties, and other authorities having jurisdiction, rather than on the state, program filing procedures are still being established. The rule suggests that the first assessment report will be due as soon as October 2019 for garages built prior to 1984; for garages constructed between 1984 and 2002, the deadline is a year later, and newer garages have until 2021 to complete the assessment. New parking structures must undergo an initial condition assessment before being issued a certificate of occupancy.
The New York City Department of Buildings announced in June 2019 that buildings located in the city are exempt from the state code, but that similar requirements for periodic parking garage inspections in New York City have been recommended for adoption as a local law.
Just as New York became a national model for facade inspection ordinances and energy conservation codes, it may serve as a paradigm for other jurisdictions nationally, as more states and cities recognize the importance of parking structure safety. Be on the lookout for similar regulations to come.
For more information, see the New York State Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association announcement, or the New York State Building Standards and Codes announcement.
Robert A. Marsoli, Jr. (firstname.lastname@example.org), PE, senior engineer with Hoffmann Architects (www.hoffarch.com), provides assessment, remediation design, and construction administration services for parking structure distress, treating each garage based on usage demands, budget, logistics, and longevity.
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