Do Enclosures Need to Be Removed for a FISP Inspection?
September 16, 2015
By Frank Lovece
Not necessarily. Herb Kamens is a longtime board member and current secretary-treasurer at the two-building Carlton co-op in Lindenwood Village, Queens. “The last time we redid the balconies [with painting and waterproofing] about eight or nine years ago, we insisted that people take off their enclosures. And it hurt a lot of people because when they took the enclosures off they couldn’t put them back properly and [the enclosures] collapsed,” he recalls.
“Through the years, most of the enclosures eventually returned and others were put up. Now the cooperators are a lot older,” says Kamens. “So in speaking with the painter and the waterproofer, we decided to leave the enclosures up and only [take them] down where it was necessary in order to do a satisfactory job. Only one had to come down,” he says, because inspection found that the homeowner “had so much damage on her balcony, they had to do an extensive [repair] job and couldn’t [do so] with the enclosure there.”
In this case, the co-op, at its own expense, re-installed the enclosure in its original form, Kamens said.
Can an inspector do his job despite the enclosure? “If the room they created allows you to check the balcony to see if it’s safe, I don’t have a problem with it,” says Adam Leitman Bailey, principal of his namesake law firm. If you can’t touch the balcony or see if screws are missing [or] check the structural soundness, then it needs to be altered,” if not removed outright.
A [partner in a law firm] agrees. “You walk in with a yardstick and measure the height of the railing,” he says. “Does it wobble?” And can an architect or engineer using a pressure gauge place it against the railing even when the balcony is enclosed? “We represent something like 275 [co-op and condo] associations. No one has come to us about removing enclosures pre-inspection,” says Jacobs. “The only problems I’ve had are [in the post-inspection] problems.”
Indeed, if the architect or engineer has uncovered issues, then the enclosure may have to be removed for work to be done. “Typically, it would be because there are leaks from a balcony and the engineer determined the enclosure caused or exacerbated the leak,” says [an attorney]. “Maybe the enclosure was not built according to code or it shifted an inch or two over the years, which creates openings for water to go through.”