Cleveland Façade Ordinance: What You Need to Know

Cleveland Façade Ordinance: What You Need to Know


Cleveland Facade Ordinance

Established in 2016, the City of Cleveland Codified Ordinance 3143.02 requires, “The owners of buildings taller than five stories and 75 feet to have the building’s facades and exterior walls inspected by a qualified inspector every five years. This applies to all building 30 years old and older.” The Cleveland façade ordinance additionally applies to buildings that have a protected distance that is equal to or less than the height of the structure (see chart below). For buildings between 30 to 49 years old, a report must be filed within two (2) years of the effective date; for buildings 50 years or older, a report must be filed within the first (1st) year of the ordinance. In each case, an assessment must then be completed every five (5) years, and 2021 is the five-year mark since the ordinance was launched.

Cleveland Facade Ordinance Regulations

Buildings That Must Be Assessed:

  • Buildings 30 years and older
  • Buildings taller than 5 stories/75 feet
  • Buildings that have a protected distance equal to or less than the height of the structure

Who can perform the assessments?

The Cleveland Façade Ordinance indicates that a qualified assessor, such as Technical Assurance, must perform the building assessment. A qualified assessor is defined as 1) a design professional certified in the evaluation of the façade elements licensed in Ohio, or 2) a special assessor or firm experienced in the façade elements and licensed as required by the Ohio Building Code. Due to the structural nature of façades of this age, it is recommended that a licensed professional engineer in the State of Ohio performs the evaluations. Technical Assurance is qualified to provide the assessment with a PE on staff and building envelope expertise.

The evaluation itself is general: a walk around the structure, access to the roof and the use of binoculars to assess the hard-to-reach places. The assessment should only take one trip unless an area of concern is discovered. Detailed assessments vary based on building age, façade type and materials involved, but areas of concern will be noted and may require the use of lifts or a swing stage for a closer investigation. If repairs are to be required, the engineer that performed the assessment can design the repairs, saving owners from having to hire additional professionals. Utilizing the structural engineer to design and manage the repairs should reduce the project schedule and lower costs.


What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

If a business owner is not compliant with the ordinance, they are guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor. Every additional day of noncompliance constitutes a separate offense. Beyond the legal penalty, the potential life-safety risk is not worth it. If a façade element should fail and come loose, lives and property could be in danger. Building owners should follow through on necessary repairs and get it done quickly.


The Value of a Building Envelope Consultant

In addition to meeting the criteria for qualified assessor for the Cleveland façade ordinance, building envelope consultants are experts in maximizing the efficiency of the building overall. Our team of architects, engineers and building envelope specialists have vast experience completing facility condition evaluations throughout the Greater Cleveland area.  We understand the intricacies of building components, project costing and report development is demonstrated through our assessment of many substantial urban complexes. Downtown Cleveland experience includes:

  • 925 Euclid Ave
  • Cleveland State University
  • Cuyahoga County Justice Center
  • Destination Cleveland
  • Standard Building
  • United Church of Christ Headquarters
  • Waterstreet Condos
  • Westin Hotel

With building envelope specialists, you can get the benefit of someone who can identify the problem, issue or defect combined with a team that provides repair, remediation and/or replacement packages. Our experts are capable of recognizing issues in the entire building envelope. For example, suppose during the assessment there’s a lintel that needs to be replaced, but there’s also evidence that the roof needs a new coating. Building enclosure consultants can design a plan to remedy both situations, maximizing the longevity of the structure.


A New Type of Approach

When it comes to managing and maintaining the building envelope, many organizations will take the approach of making repairs and scheduling maintenance when it is past being needed and a problem is in their lap. This is what we call run-to-failure spending on building systems. You’ve likely heard it from an HVAC technician regular check-ins and maintenance greatly helps with longevity and performance.

Our approach at Technical Assurance is different than most. We work with clients to pivot to how we can be investing in buildings instead of purely spending on them only when there’s an immediate need. We offer our clients a sustainable investment plan that proactively manages building envelope assets. Our sustainable life cycle investment starts with the initial inventory and assessment of your assets— which could be done at the time of the façade assessment. Beyond that, superior asset management involves planning for repair and replacement projects in the future, prioritizing the areas of concern first. Engaging in regular preventative maintenance schedules will maximize the effectiveness of your resources. We aim to be your full-service delivery partner in reaching financial health and optimized facility performance.


Do you need to complete the façade assessment or interested in increasing the sustainability of your building? Connect with us today!