Construction Job Sites Re-Open in New York City!

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the construction industry and its supply chain. After two months of construction projects at a complete halt, the re-opening of job sites in New York City comes with some new requirements to combat the spread of the virus.

As part of the solution to preventing the virus, construction job sites are required to implement new measures and plans for hygienic working environment during the ongoing pandemic.   These new job site requirements include:

• Ensure 6 feet of distance between personnel, unless safety or core function of the work activity requires a shorter distance.

• All personnel and visitors to construction sites must wear face coverings appropriate for their task, unless medically unable to do so.

• Tightly confined spaces (e.g., elevators, hoists) can only be occupied by 50% maximum capacity.  50% maximum capacity must be posted within the cab AND at each landing.

• A site safety monitor must be designated whose responsibilities include continuous compliance with all aspects of the site safety plan.

• Appropriate signage is posted throughout the site to remind personnel to adhere to proper hand hygiene, physical distancing rules, appropriate use of personal protective equipment, and cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

• Safety plan(s) are conspicuously posted on site and include a copy of the submitted State affirmation.

• A communication plan for employees, visitors, and clients is available at the site.

• A continuous log of every person who may have had close contact with other individuals at the work site or area is kept at the site.

• There are hand hygiene stations available on site and readily accessible to workers.

• A cleaning and disinfection log is present at the site with minimum daily entries.

Green Roofs are here to stay!

New York City Green Roof Laws Take Effect

New York City wants to become a green city.  It wants to incorporate vegetation into the city’s roof tops.  In July 2019, the Department of Building has made Green Roofs the new requirement for all major alteration and new building projects and took affect November 25th 2019.

All new Buildings applications filed, on or after November 15, 2019, for new construction projects and roof alteration projects (including vertical and horizontal enlargement or roof deck replacement), must include a form certifying their compliance with Local Laws 92 and 94.  All Buildings filings that have not been approved by Buildings by 3PM on November 14, 2019, will be required to submit the new Solar and Green Roof Systems form prior to Buildings approval.

Progression pictures of Barclay Center Green Roof

Initial Phases of Green roof Installation

75% completion of Green roof

Completion photo of Barclay center Green roof.

For more on this new law and building code.

Should I do home renovation during Coronavirus Outbreak?

Amidst this Coronavirus Outbreak, a lot of homeowners are pretty confused about whether to reevaluate and reschedule their renovation plans or not. If you’re in the same perplexing situation, you’re not alone. In this surge of outbreak crisis, these fears are quite obvious. The lawmakers are pressing hard to suspend all non-essential construction citywide to prevent further spread of coronavirus. But – good news? Construction in NY is not halted and the industry is pushing back.

As New Yorkers are encouraged to work remotely while the restaurants, bars, and city’s school system are shuttered to curb the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has exempted the construction industry from this new work-from-home mandate.

Construction being the core component of New York City’s economy, suspending it would be a very dangerous proposition as said by Carlo Scissura, the president of the New York Building Congress. There’re a lot of on going essential projects and crucial public works like infrastructure, supporting the house, and homeless shelters that if halted, would even deteriorate the situation further.

Construction experts are actually backing this decision with the fact that the dynamics of construction workspace are pretty different than many other production industries. The construction workers are more spread apart and they are often working much outdoor.

Even if the authorities may decide for construction moratorium, for how long will they be able to impose such restrictions keeping in view its stonyhearted financial impact? Researchers are still trying to figure out: if the coronavirus outbreak will die off in the summer months or not. Some experts and virologists believe that the outbreak may be hindered by hot temperatures and high humidity but the seasonality of this virus is still unclear.

Anyhow, if you’re looking to undertake home renovation during these extraordinary times of coronavirus pandemic, here are the pros and cons for you to consider:

Pros & Cons

The Pro – You got enough time to plan

As the lock-down takes place and you’re still planning to start your renovation project in the future. This is the best time to plan out and start your design phase. You’ve got plenty of time during this uncertain time and you can evaluate each and every bit of work you’d like to include in your scope of work.

You’ll probably need about four to six months on average taking care of all the planning, choosing stuff, and deciding what you want in your renovation venture. So, by the time this situation of a global pandemic may have improved or blown over altogether.

The Con – You’ll have to place orders sooner than later

Now that you’ve got everything on the list including furniture, fixtures, and all equipment you require for your renovation project; it’s the time to place orders. But with coronavirus pandemic already in you may have to face higher costs due to high demand and scarcity of products. A lot of vendors haven’t yet

faced significant disruptions, but now with this developing impact of viruses, lock-downs, and quarantines; you never know how easily the things will go south.

Pros: The project will be completed in less time

If you were already halfway through the renovation until this coronavirus development, chances are, your project will advance faster. All reputable contractors are deploying double resources and more energy to give your project a higher overall pace. At this stage, you don’t have supply chain issues as your fixtures and fittings are already there or may be stored in the warehouse.

And above all, you’ve already decided to go on with your renovation and you don’t have to waste a considerable amount of energy on considering whether you should do it now or hold off.

Cons: The project may cost you more and you may have to face workplace injuries

General contractors may deploy more resources and overwork the labor, thus incurring higher costs to move faster than normal. Besides this, the overworked team will likely to face injuries due to exhaustion. But the construction and real-estate industry are pretty trained overall for tighter scheduled projects. With sufficient workplace hygiene and safety protocols, your project manager can minimize the risk factors.

Another factor to look at is the protection of your site against coronavirus. You may have to bear additional costs to protect yourself and the labor working i.e. to sterilize the areas regularly and do general hygiene measures around workplaces.

Summary

Generally, as a building contractor, I would continue to take on projects in which the property will be vacate to avoid the risk of spreading anything onto surfaces.  Thus far, scientist have stated that the virus can survive on surfaces from 2 to 24 hours depending on the surface.  Thus, as a precautionary step, prime contractors and owners may come to agreement to work every other day which allows for 48 hours to pass, double the upper end of the virus survival rate.  That would mean working three business days a week on a regular permit without any after hour variances.  Though the progress will slow down, it will not shut down the progression.   This construction schedule will provide comfort to clients, employees and sub-contractors; knowing that upper and executive management has safety from this virus at the forefront of their minds and enabling employees and stakeholders to work in a safe manner greatly reduces the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus.

Here at Borough Construction, we encourage individual building contracting firms and clients alike to first attain the relevant scientific and medical information regarding the Coronavirus, COVID-19.  Staying updated on where the world and the U.S. is in terms of combating this global pandemic helps to inform where the light at the end of the tunnel is.  Secondly, know how this virus physically spreads, the survival rate of this virus and how to prevent it from spreading.  When the relative information about this virus is known, cooperate with all stake holders and clients to formalize a schedule that promotes safety first.  To learn more about how Borough Construction can help you on your project during this unprecedented times, please contact us.  We wish you the best on your project during this time.

-Trung Truong

Principal & Project Manager

Preconstruction Surveys and Monitoring Requirements in NYC

If you are performing construction work in New York City there is a very good chance that you will have to perform a preconstruction survey and/or perform monitoring of neighboring properties. The preconstruction survey and the monitoring often go hand-in-hand. The preconstruction survey will identify the existing conditions of neighboring properties before work starts. The monitoring protocol will provide a means for keeping an eye on the adjacent buildings to determine whether there is any movement or vibration that could or is causing damage.

Preconstruction surveys are required by NYC Construction Code Section 3309.4.3 Monitoring is required by NYC Construction Code Section 3309.4.4

When is a preconstruction survey required to protect an adjoining property?

Pursuant to Section 3309.4.3 of the New York City Construction Code a preconstruction survey is required in the following instance:

No excavation work to a depth of 5 feet to 10 feet (1524 mm to 3048 mm) within 10 feet (3048 mm) of an adjacent building, or an excavation over 10 feet (3048 mm) anywhere on the site shall commence until the person causing an excavation to be made has documented the existing conditions of all adjacent buildings in a preconstruction survey

When is monitoring required to protect an adjoining property?
Pursuant to Section 3309.4.4 of the New York City Construction Code:

During the course of excavation work the following shall be monitored in accordance with Section 3309.16:
1.Buildings that are within a distance from the edge of the excavation that is equal to or less than the maximum depth of the excavation.
2.Historic structures that are contiguous to or within a lateral distance of 90 feet (27 432 mm) from the edge of the lot where an excavation is occurring.

Exception:

Monitoring is not required for excavations to a depth of five feet (1523 mm) or less, provided:
1.The excavation occurs more than 5 feet (1524 mm) from all footings and foundations; or
2.Where the excavation occurs within five feet (1524 mm) or less from a footing or foundation, such excavation does not occur below the level of the footing or foundation.

How do I get access to perform a preconstruction survey and install monitoring?

Naturally in order to perform a preconstruction survey and install the requisite monitoring you will have to enter your neighbor’s property. But you can’t just trespass on your neighbor’s property. You need permission to enter the property, perform the survey and then install the monitoring.

Pursuant to Section 3309.1.1 of the NYC Construction Code:

Where a construction or demolition project will require access to adjoining property in accordance with this section, written notification shall be provided to the adjoining property owner at least 60 calendar days prior to the commencement of work. Such notification shall describe the nature of work, estimated schedule and duration, details of inspections or monitoring to be performed on the adjoining property, protection to be installed on the adjoining property, and contact information for the project.
Where no response is received, a second written notification shall be made no more than 45 calendar days, and not less than 30 calendar days, prior to the commencement of work.

Further, pursuant to Section 3309.2 of the NYC Construction Code:

The responsibility of affording any license to enter adjoining property shall
rest upon the owner of the adjoining property involved; and in case any tenant of such owner fails or refuses to permit the owner to afford such license, such failure or refusal shall be a cause for the owner to dispossess such tenant through appropriate legal proceedings for recovering possession of real property. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit the owner of the property undertaking construction or demolition work from petitioning for a special proceeding pursuant to Section 881 of the Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law.

What if my neighbor ignores the request to enter an perform the survey and monitoring?

Section 3309.2 of the Code says that the neighbor (the adjoining property owner) has the responsibility for affording a license to enter. If a license agreement can be agreed upon that ends the discussion. But if a license agreement cannot be agreed upon, then Section 3309.2 says that the “owner of the property undertaking construction” can petition the Court pursuant RPAPL Section 881 for a judicial license.

While many construction projects go smoothly and their is cooperation, many result in litigation. The preconstruction survey and the monitoring required by Code Sections 3309.3 and 3309.4 actually protect both the developer and the adjoining property owner in litigation over damage caused by the adjacent construction. The preconstruction survey provides a baseline for the attorneys to know the condition of the adjoining property before construction and the monitoring provide scientific data for whether the adjoining property moved (or vibrated) during construction (which may have caused damage).

To learn more about handling preconstruction survey requirements.

Temporary structural support of adjacent building to project

During the life of a structure, it tends to settle into the ground and soil below it as erosion occurs and time passes. When there are two structures adjacent to each other, the neighboring adjacent structures tend to lean on each other as they settle.

The two structures essentially become each other’s supporting wall. Thus, when one of the adjacent structures is removed, it leaves the remaining structure vulnerable to structural failure since the weight of the remaining structure no longer has  the support in which it previously leaned a portion of its weight on.

To address this during new construction,  temporary steel beams are placed and anchored to remaining structure to maintain the support that has now been removed.