Services / Inspections / Retaining Wall Inspections

why Did the New York City Department of Buildings (NYCDOB) enact this law?

The New York City Department of Buildings’ (NYCDOB) Retaining Wall Inspection requirement was put in place to assure that local retaining walls were structurally sound and to reduce the risk of a falling-debris hazard to the pedestrians around the perimeter of the structure.

What Structures are affected?

Owners of properties with a retaining wall facing a public right-of-way and any portion of the wall extending ten feet or higher are now required to have their structure inspected every five years by a Qualified Retaining Wall Inspector (QRWI).

Who can perform these inspections?

Required façade inspections and maintenance shall be performed by a Qualified Retaining Wall Inspector (QRWI). This individual must be a licensed New York professional engineer.

What does the Inspection/report entail?

Based on the findings of the examination, the QRWI’s report classifies a building’s façades into one of four categories:

  • Safe

  • Safe with Minor Repairs or Maintenance

  • Safe with Repairs and/or Engineering Monitoring

  • Unsafe

Within 60 days after completing the assessment, the QRWI must submit a report that meets the criteria spelled out in RCNY §103-09.

Filing fees are payable for each property owner for whom the report is being submitted. A wall with multiple owners may have one report submitted for all of the owners, but each individual owner must submit their own filing fees.

Filing Fees

  • Initial filing: $355.00

  • Amended filing: $130.00

  • Application for extension of time to complete repairs: $260.00

Civil Penalties For Late Filing / Failure to File

  • Late filing: $250 per month

  • Failure to file: $1,000 per year

  • Failure to correct an unsafe condition: $1,000 per month, prorated daily

Timeline for Correcting Unsafe Conditions

If an UNSAFE condition is observed during the inspection, The owner must immediately repair the wall and/or take appropriate measures to secure the safety of the public.

Within two weeks of completing the repairs to correct an unsafe condition, the QRWI must:

  • Inspect the premises

  • Obtain permit sign-offs as appropriate

  • Submit an amended report with the revised rating of the retaining wall. Amended report filing fees are also due at that time.

All repairs to correct an unsafe condition must be completed within 365 days of filing a report of an unsafe condition with the Department. See RCNY §103-09(e) for more detailed information.

If Safe with Repairs and/or Engineering Monitoring rating indicated

  1. If a QRWI determines a retaining wall to be “Safe with Repair and/or Engineering Monitoring the QRWI must indicate a time frame within which the recommended repairs should be completed.

  2. The owner of the retaining wall is responsible for ensuring that the wall is repaired and restored to a safe condition, and that all actions recommended by the QRWI are completed in the time frame recommended by the QRWI.

  3. The owner must notify the Department of any deviation from the recommended time frame and must submit an application to request time or a time extension after the expiration of a previous request using the forms(s) Initial Extension of Time Request (RWIP1) or the Additional Extension of Time Request (RWIP2). See RCNY §103-09(e) for more detailed information.


To make things easier, the façade report and maintenance/repair deadlines are divided into cycles. The initial inspection cycle (Cycle 1) ran from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2018.

Cycles are staggered into five (5) sub-cycles that happen on a recurring basis.

January 1, 2019 - December 31, 2019
January 1, 2020 - December 31, 2020
Staten Island
January 1, 2021 - December 31, 2021
January 1, 2022 - December 31, 2022
January 1, 2023 - December 31, 2023

To clarify, in 2019, structures in the Bronx are due for their 5-year inspections. In 2020, structures in the Manhattan area will be due for their 5-year inspections — and so on until the entire cycle is complete, at which time a new 5-year cycle begins.

Submittal Requirements

Retaining wall inspection reports must be saved as PDF files onto a DVD, CD, or flash drive; paper reports will not be accepted. Submitted DVD/ CDs or flash drives must:

1. Have retaining wall inspection reports in PDF titled/named with an Address and a Building Identification Number (BIN), separated by a hyphen. See below examples:

  • In “280 Broadway-1079215”, the digits after the hyphen are the Building Identification Number.

  • Amended Inspection Reports should include a “-2” at the end: “280 Broadway-1079215-2”.

  • Subsequent Inspection Reports should include a “-S” at the end: “280 Broadway-1079215-S”.

  • No other characters must be included in file name. File must be named exactly as shown above.

2. Have separate folders for:

  • Unsafe rating reports

  • Amended reports

  • All other rating reports

3. Include PDF copies of the following items within the same file (which must also be printed and submitted with the DVD/CD, flash drives):

4. More than one report can be submitted on each DVD/CD, or flash drive.

We Can Help!

PVE is fully qualified to assist clients with retaining wall inspections. Our services consist of the examination itself, along with all required follow-up work, including preparing contracts for the repairs, assisting in bidding and negotiation with qualified contractors, and performing construction phase services.

To arrange for an examination, or to discuss a specific area of concern, please contact our office at 646-602-4999 or email