The recent collapse of two downtown facades this year have Cleveland officials buzzing about mandatory inspections for commercial buildings.
This past April, the parapet wall of the Garfield Building on East 6th Street crumbled to the ground below, crushing an empty minivan. Then in early December, metal from a window frame tumbled to the sidewalk on the corner of Prospect Ave and East 4th St. Once again, Cleveland was lucky to report no injuries.
Since then, city councilmen have proposed the idea of a facade-inspection program that would require property owners to hire a certified engineer every five years for inspections and official report submission.
The law would apply to buildings over a certain age and height, still to be confirmed. Failure to comply with the requirement would suspend the owner from obtaining permits until they comply with protocols.
The legislation is being weighed by city officials, engineers, contractors, and of course, property owners and managers. Cleveland is currently without any inspection obligations, so many are finding it a reasonable requirement, while some disagree with its frequency.
While we await official news regarding the new law, we can see the importance of regular inspections from the past year's incidents alone. Extreme temperatures, weather fluctuations, precipitation, and construction quality all cause building materials to shift, swell, contract, weaken, and eventually break down. Onset of deterioration can happen quickly, but routine building evaluations help ensure fewer incidents from conditional oversights.