New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

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ARCHIVE ARTICLE

Waiver Willingness

All nonessential, nonemergency construction projects have been shut down in the city. Have you had any experience with a job that was deemed essential and allowed to move forward?

Yes, we have one project in Midtown, on the East Side, that was deemed essential because their Facade Inspection and Safety program report was filed as unsafe, and we were able to get a waiver from the city to continue work. It was a combination of facade and roofing, including asbestos abatement. So in order to replace that roof, we needed to abate the asbestos first.

 

So you got the waiver. Is the job moving forward?

You'd think so, but actually no. The condo board, after jumping through  all the hoops of getting approval, decided not to proceed.

 

Why not?

There were many issues, but the main issue was they didn't feel comfortable with the risk to the residents if workers would come into the building every day, using the service elevator, going into some common spaces in order to access the roof.

 

Was it a large crew?

It actually was a very small crew, about six people. However, due to the logistics, they would have had to go into the basement one by one and up the elevator one at a time. So you can imagine that that's a very long process. Furthermore, they had to wear full personal protective equipment whenever they were traveling within the building. And then the resident manager would have to wipe down any surfaces that they touched on their way up and when they would need to go downstairs for lunch. This long process would have to be repeated again at the end of the day. So you can imagine that, logistically, it was a bit of a nightmare. And secondly, there were no guarantees that the crew would be able to perform their work with the six-foot distancing requirements of the Department of Buildings. Unfortunately, construction is just one of those things where it's not a one-man effort. Sometimes you need two people to do certain tasks, and it's unrealistic to say, "You must keep six feet apart at all times."

 

This condo board obviously was less worried about getting the work done than about protecting the safety of residents and maybe even the crew. Do you think the board made the right call?

I think an abundance of caution is a good thing in these times. So I think the board made the right call, not only for the residents but also for the workers because had they given the contractor the go-ahead, the workers would be forced to show up every day whether they felt safe to do so or not. In these scary times, maybe it's better to err on the side of caution.

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