Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Construction Of New Building On Union Street Causes Huge Headache For Neighboring Building Owners

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Late last week, excavation work for a new single family building at number 467 Union Street caused severe structural cracks to the neighboring buildings at 463 and  465 Union Street.  In response, NYC Department Of Buildings imposed a complete Stop Work Order for number 467 and served a Vacate Order to number 465.

Once featured as a House Of The Day on Brownstoner, the original building at 467 Union Street was marketed by Corcoran as a teardown.   After some time on the market, it  was eventually sold for $377,000 in March 2012 to Jill and John Bouratoglou, the husband and wife team behind Bouratoglou Architect, PC.  Shortly afterwards, permits were filed with NYC Department Of Buildings for a  four-story, one family house.
Work on the site began in early June 2012. Almost immediately, there was trouble.  After several complaints to DOB, a Full Stop Work Order was served by the Brooklyn Borough Commissioner on August 22, but rescinded on August 28th.
Then on August 29th, more cracking appeared on the fa├žade of the neighboring building, prompting DOB to serve a new Stop Work Order to 467 Union Street.  But the agency also served a vacate order to the owner and tenants of Number 465, stating that the structure had been undermined by the excavation.

Not the best start for Bouratoglou Architect, PC, and a real nightmare for their new neighbors.




12 comments:

Anonymous said...

This sucks for all parties involved. I was working on a job that involved excavation once that was 50 yards from the nearest building. Sure enough, some soil shifted and that foundation gave way, cracked the whole side of that far away house.

Somethings just can't be avoided, especially when you have old housing stock and tight quarters like we have here.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous 11:09 am - WRONG.

I would like to hear from an architect, but from what I understand, if the excavation is done with the appropriate underpinning and protection of the existing adjacent structures, this kind of problem will not occur. The vast majority of construction in Manhattan and Brownstone Brooklyn involves work immediately adjacent to existing buildings. That this happens rarely, shows that most architects and contractors that do this kind of work know how do to it safely.

My sympathies to the occupants of the existing building. Lets hope the contractor and owners have sufficient insurance to cover their losses.

Katia said...

Thankfully, there is an empty lot on the right side of this project. Otherwise, more homes could have been affected.

Anonymous said...

It's called subsidence. We all live in structure on the the remains left by glaciers along the terminal moraine. Basically we are building on sand. Where I am in Sunset Park recent drilling identified loose rock only at a depth of 70 feet. The rest is sand. Good luck to me (and Park Slope too) when the 'Big One' comes.
No matter how much underpinning that is done, just the sheer weight of a newly introduced structure will disturb and eventually compress the soil. Even adding an extra masonry floor to an adjoining structure will do it. It's the weight, not lack of skill. There is a new apartment structure on 60th Street near 8th Avenue with the facade of the next structure split, as well as the one further away.
Question: why isn't the white monitoring patch placed exactly at the split? Are they expecting multiple splits?
--Tom

Anonymous said...

How do we find out how badly #463 Union has been affected? There is a daycare in this building. I can't get the dept of buildings on the phone.

Anonymous said...

As an Architect, I'd like to point out that the contractor is responsible for site safety and getting the proper inspections. It's possible that there was a design flaw in the foundation design, in which case the architect or structural engineer would be responsible; but it's more likely that it was due to improper underpinning and shoring by the contractor, which the Architect is not responsible for.

Anonymous said...

But the architects hired the contractors.
This is all sad and irresponsible.
If you look at the google street view of 465 it appears there was a split already starting. And no one saw this?!

Anonymous said...

Owners hire contractors, not architects. Contractors are responsible for their own Means and Methods. I promise you nothing got through the DOB that would have caused this. This is from improper underpinning - I walk by everyday and have watched these cracks increase in size.

In this specific case the owner happens to also be an architect so they are screwed regardless. (Also GC's are responsible for hiring independent inspection engineer's for TR1 sign-offs and I promise you to save 10K these owners are doing it themselves since they are also architects)

Anonymous said...

You state that 463 is cracked and include a link, but that link says nothing about 463 -- only 473. Is there any specific city info indicating a problem at 463? I ask because a daycare is located there.

Katia said...

Just checked the NYC DOB web site and an inspector responded to a complaint regarding 463. Apparently, the structure is currently not affected.
However, there was a complained from someone at 463 stating that there is cracking in the backyard.
Here is the link to that complaint.

http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/OverviewForComplaintServlet?requestid=2&vlcompdetlkey=0001557478

Anonymous said...

Is the daycare legal?
Also the google earth pictures before construction show these severe cracks and the monitors that HP D put in when they had the bldg torn down. They did nothing to secure 465 or 463. It's a good thing there is a foundation to hold back the buildings.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the daycare is legal.