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civil/structural/forensic engineering, code consulting, building inspections

Building Facades - ASTM E2270


Periodic inspections of building facades are currently required by ordinance in the cities of Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Milwaukee, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis, as well as others. These ordinances are usually in place because some tragedy occurred.


The authorities generally require a facade ordinance inspection to be performed under the direction of a licensed architect or licensed professional engineer in the state in which the building resides. Even if your municipality has no facade ordinance, a periodic inspection is highly recommended as part of your facility maintenance program.


Simple age, improper design and/or construction that permit water and air intrusion, failure to conduct timely inspections, and failure to perform scheduled maintenance can result in facades that pose a hazard to pedestrians. Facades that fail and cause injury pose a potential loss to owners and insurance companies. Building Owners, Facility Managers and Facility Engineers are responsible to ensure their building facade is free from unsafe conditions. If injury or damage is caused to occupants, visitors, passers-by, or adjacent property by part of the facade falling off the building, then lawsuits by the injured parties are probable.



The requirements and procedures for conducting facade inspections are outlined in ASTM E2270, "Standard Practice for Periodic Inspection of Building Facades for Unsafe Conditions." Published by ASTM International, this model standard reflects best practices for facade inspections and is intended for adoption by model building codes, local municipalities, or private owners of multiple buildings. Our inspections begin with a review of the available original construction documentation and drawings from any previous building restoration and renovation. We then perform a preliminary observation with binoculars and infrared imaging to determine the most likely areas to inspect prior to establishing an inspection plan.


The building facade is then inspected utilizing an aerial platform or articulated boom following the predetermined inspection plan. The inspection includes review of movement of parts; bulging, bowing, separation, delamination, and displacement, deterioration of materials, like sealants, water repellents and glazing, the presence of openings, cracks or gaps, the condition and functioning of expansion joints, loose attachment of appurtenances, efflorescence or staining from rust or chemicals, evidence of moisture behind the facade, and evidence of improper past repairs.


A detailed building envelope inspection report, including photographs, is prepared summarizing the exterior condition. If desired, a building repair specification is provided, and a cost estimate for repairs can be supplied. We do not perform repairs, which eliminates any possible conflict of interest.