Damaged and aging building facades pose serious life-safety concerns when facade elements detach and fall to the ground. These unsafe conditions – resulting from deteriorated materials, rusting attachment ties, or movement from earthquakes – are sometimes hidden. For this reason, cities such as San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston have adopted facade ordinances requiring periodic inspections by licensed architects and engineers to identify safety concerns.


Facade Inspection and Maintenance

Read more about facade condition assessments, which provide information to help understand, maintain, and improve facade performance.



Case in Point: San Francisco Facade Ordinance

The city of San Francisco adopted its facade ordinance in 2016, requiring inspections of all buildings five or more stories high and fronting publicly accessible areas (with some exceptions) for unsafe conditions, movement, significant deterioration, and watertightness. The first ordinance deadline is nearing, requiring owners of all applicable buildings built before 1910 to file an inspection report with the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection by 31 December 2021. The next group of buildings, built between 1910 and 1925, have inspection reports due by 31 December 2023. 

facade ordinance inspection


Topic Brief: Building Facades: San Francisco Inspection Requirements

Learn more about San Francisco facade ordinance requirements, inspections, and maintenance planning.


For more information on San Francisco facade ordinances, contact:


carolyn sears


craig allender


paul cordova


Carolyn Searls

  Craig Allender   Paul Cordova   Matthew Worster

Additional Resources 

See project examples and articles related to facade inspection and a range of inspection ordinances.