New, but Far From Perfect Construction Defects Follow a Brooklyn Building Boom

It took just three years for balconies to crack and concrete to flake from the facade of one Brooklyn condominium. Another building was prone to flooding, because the storm drainage system was never connected to the sewage system. With buildings rising at a pace not seen in years, some fear that shoddy construction could be making a comeback, too. 

As developers feverishly break ground on projects to cash in on soaring property values, lawyers, architects and engineers say they are fielding more calls from residents complaining of structural defects in newly built homes. There is growing concern that some developers are repeating the mistakes of the last housing boom and delivering substandard product. As more residents settle into new buildings, the trickle of calls could soon turn into a flood. 

“My phone is ringing already on projects that were just completed,” said Steven D. Sladkus, a Manhattan real estate lawyer who says his firm has dozens of active construction defect cases. “Uh-oh, here we go again.”

When the housing market collapsed in 2007 and coffers ran dry, many developers were left scrambling to complete projects. Some cut corners or abandoned developments, leaving others to finish the work. The result was a spate of poorly built developments followed by a rash of lawsuits from angry buyers. But the number of complaints dwindled when the recession took hold and new construction stalled, leaving only the most seasoned developers to continue to build. 

Now, in today’s increasingly heady housing market, untested developers are eager to get in the game, and some of those who built problematic buildings in the past are breaking ground again. “It’s like the developers did not learn their lessons,” said Adam Leitman Bailey, a Manhattan real estate lawyer who has noticed an uptick since the start of the year in complaints from residents of newly built buildings reporting problems with elevators, water infiltration and inadequate insulation.

Full article by Ronda Kaysen on March 6, 2015 in the New York Times