It's Chicago, baby. We're talking about the City of Wind. The beloved town by the lake. But what if one of the Second City's famous blustery gusts blows a piece of condominium facade onto some innocent passer-by? This is perhaps the worst-case scenario that could result from either pure happenstance...or from improper or neglected maintenance. While one cannot plan for the former, one can certainly try to avoid the latter—and routine safety inspections as part of a board/ management team's duties to their community are a good step toward doing so.
The first place that an association can turn for the parameters that govern its property is the Chicago Building Code, which is readily available on the city's Department of Buildings website. According to Mimi Simon, the DOB's Director of Public Affairs, the "DOB performs a wide variety of inspections each year to support building safety for occupants and visitors, including annual technical inspections, permit inspections and thousands of inspections in follow-up to complaints coming into the 311 CSR system. The type and frequency of inspections can vary depending on type and age of building, type of equipment in building, use of building and building permits required for maintenance and upgrades."
Simon notes that, as of this past August, city inspectors had completed an estimated 140,000 inspections in 2015 alone, 33,500 of them stemming directly from 311 complaints.
Obviously, says Simon, one size does not fit all when it comes to building inspections in Chicago. The variables range far and wide, but include some specific guidelines designed to ensure that each unique property remains as safe and secure as possible. Steve Welhouse, an attorney with The Sterling Law Group in Chicago, notes that there are more rigorous exterior inspections for properties that are in excess of 83 feet tall, an "admittedly odd number."
"The big concern in the city, in terms of safety inspections, is that there are a lot of old brick buildings, and bricks can fall off those buildings—especially downtown," says Welhouse. "The city has implemented a 'critical examination' of the buildings to be performed every two years, and then there's a more significant inspection that needs be done every four years. And you've got to send an inspection report into the department of buildings for review."