Thursday, August 21, 2008

An end to self-certification?

Controversial building review plan may get ax
BY BRIAN KATES
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Wednesday, August 20th 2008, 10:30 PM

The Buildings Department's controversial policy of approving architectural plans without review could be scrapped for just $7.5 million a year, a new study shows.

The so-called self-certification program has been blamed for building collapses, property destruction and zoning violations since it began in 1995.

The study by the city's Independent Budget Office estimated the program could be eliminated for $7.5 million a year plus a one-time $1.5 million expense in the first year.

Dropping the program would require hiring 50 plan examiners and 19 support staffers, the publicly funded agency said.

Under the current honor system, plans are automatically approved on the promise of architects and engineers that they confirm to zoning and building code.

In fiscal year 2007, the Buildings Department audited 24% of the self-certified plans, revoking 21% for violations.

"We don't have a dollar figure on the cost of the damage this program has done, but it is far more than the cost of eliminating it," said City Council Minority Leader James Oddo (R-S.I.), who requested the study.

Oddo said the cost would be minor if the change is phased in over several years.

"The department has been cracking down on architects and engineers who abuse the program," Buildings Department spokeswoman Kate Lindquist said. "We look forward to reviewing the report's findings."

More info here: IBO Letter

12 comments:

jerry rotondi said...

It's been pointed out
by many in the know, that the self certification program has been responsible for approximately 80% of the problems that have arisen in the construction of residential and commercial buildings in New York City since its inception.

There will be dancing in the streets when it's finally dumped!

Self-cert has proven to have been
a total failure.

italian girl said...

"Self-cert has proven to have been
a total failure."

Not for the developers who've lot of of money! Can you just imagine the billions of dollars made by private developers counting on the indifference and incompetence of the DOB?
I have a feeling the party's over for many builders out to make a quick buck.

Anonymous said...

Ok - Self certification is ending or to be ended - welcomed whole-heartly. But what I want to know is how to go back to past self-certification projects that were illegally certified? These need to be addressed and criminal - complaints filed and least of all re-certify the project correctly.

Anonymous said...

Please make this happen!

Anonymous said...

Every self-certified building project from the 1 family to the skyscraper must be reviewed and fully inspected to ascertain that what was built is in actuality what was on the plans. If not, tear it down at the self-certifier's expense.

CntrySigns said...

I Agree with Anonymous. Right now there are only small fines when violations are discovered. Once these firms have a choice between jail or building safely and correctly this city will be on the right track.

jerry rotondi said...

I most heartily agree with you "Italian girl" on that point.

It's certainly been a boon to developers, many of whom passed on a portion of their profits by contributing to their friends' political campaigns.

I believe that instituting the self-cert program in order to streamline the approval process (shortly after roughly 14 crooked DOB inspectors had just been indicted) was one of former
Mayor Rudy's "great" ideas.

Can you imagine the idiocy of letting a fox guard the chicken coop, or an architect approving his own (or another's plans)?

I think that former Mayor "G" was crazy like a fox himself!

He knew what he was doing all along.

italian girl said...

jerry rotondi:

"Can you imagine the idiocy of letting a fox guard the chicken coop, or an architect approving his own (or another's plans)?"

Yes, but don't forget this was before the city was being ravaged by developers on a massive scale. Who knew?

"I think that former Mayor "G" was crazy like a fox himself!"

I totally agree! He IS a psycho professionally and personally as well. His kids even hate him! How bad is that.

Anonymous said...

Maspeth Mom says

Rudy knew that plan would let developers make big money easily.

Its just bad business- if your an individual building a house The architect designs it and then the NYC Building Dept "certs" it to say is legal and meets all the parameters for proper building codes inside the home and outside.

Bad for the homeower because if your architect graduated with a 'D' on his report card, you could ending up having years of headaches with a screwed up house

Self cert is like getting surgery and the doctor,is the surgeon, anstesiologist and the nurse. Just a major league bad idea that has to go.

jerry rotondi said...

Developers were ravaging the city
well enough in the 90s but Rudy's
"innovation" helped them pick up
enough speed to put them in a permanent orbit!

Now we have a squadron of predators encircling the 5 boroughs 24/7
(like the old Strategic Air Command SAC) just waiting to pounce and destroy another piece of our history!

Meanwhile,
the Landmarks Preservation Commission (Mayor Bloomberg's lapdog) has strict instructions
to ignore Queens but occasionally grant a few token designations to keep us worms happy!

italian girl said...

Where are the councilmembers?
Where are the civic associations?
Why are these folks not making enough noise? Shouldn't they be calling on the Landmarks Preservation Commission and City Planning Commission to do what the communities request? Why are our voices unheard? What a disgrace!
I really believe ALL of Queens is fast-becoming a transient place. Who would want to raise a family here? It used to be a great place but no more. My Long Island friends, they think Queens is trash. If I talk to my Manhattan friends, they also think Queens sucks.
Queens will always be expensive, but not a place you stick around for too long. I just feel like we are SO powerless living here. And all the while these politicians who promise the world, are sitting around behind the scenes laughing at us.

Snoopy the Architect said...

I am an architect, and I am in support an end to self-certification for New Building and Alteration type 1 project.

However, I think that self-certifaication should stay for Alteration type 2 jobs such as interior alteration, additional plumbing fixtures, fences, sidewalk, etc.