New York City’s revitalization over the last two decades is well documented. The quality of life has improved dramatically. For instance, crime statistics show large drops across the board, including murders falling from 2,262 in 1990 to 330 in 2016.
This has led to a growing population with more people finding the city a desirable place to live. There are 8.5 million people living in NYC, based on current estimates, up from 7.3 million in 1990. In order to meet the growing housing demand, there have been new construction projects. This means people across the city may have to live with the inconvenience and construction noise for a while. There are tips to dealing with it, however.
Image by Mark Lyon / Flickr
What to do?
Builders need a permit prior to construction starting and are also required to give neighbors notice. These requirements are typically easily met.
However, they can only work on construction from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. If you are home during these hours – perhaps working or with your children, there is not much you can do. However, if it is outside of the hours, you can complain by calling 311 or online.
Aside from noise, debris is another major sticking point. There are regulations from the Department of Environment Protection (DEP) that govern this, serving to protect New York City’s residents, however. The construction company needs to take actions to prevent the dust from becoming airborne, such as using a tarp. Demolition of walls need DEP approval. If you feel there is excessive dust and dirt, you can file a complaint.
If developers are planning major changes and a variance is needed, they need to reach out to the community, and neighbors have an opportunity to speak out and be heard. Building in a landmark district also requires approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission. You can also use the website to determine where New York City’s landmarks are located.
220 Central Park South, photo by Andrew McKeon / NewYorkYimby
Dealing with damage
Thus far, we have dealt with the inconvenience and health hazards presented by living in a construction zone. However, there may also be property damage from building on an adjacent property, which can range from minor to as severe as a building collapse. If that is the case, there are protections put in place. There are various options, such as reaching out to the developer and construction company, complaining to the city, and pursuing litigation. Typically, the damage is minor, and the contractor is required to carry insurance.
Keep in mind, there is strength in numbers. If there are a number of people with similar complaints, you can go en masse or have the board do it.
If you feel the developer or construction company are not acting in accordance with the regulations (e.g. outside of the allowable hours or not taking the proper precautions), there are several actions you can take. Assuming you have tried to be cordial by calling the developer and contractor, the city has a lot of resources, including easy-to-file forms that are found online and below.
While there are certain inconveniences you may have to live with, others are clearly out of bounds. This guide can help you if the developer is working outside the limits.