Everyone's heard the old saying about how "They don't make 'em like they used to" applied to everything from cars to appliances. But does the same hold true for residential buildings? A spirited debate surrounds the issue of whether today's glass-and-steel (or zinc, or titanium) condo towers are less well made than the stone-and-mortar edifices raised at the turn of the last century.
A spate of recent news items in a number of publications has raised red flags about the potential risks and hassles of buying brand-new apartments—but is the alarm justified? What should a homebuyer know—or know to look out for—when buying into a newly constructed building?
The Airing of Grievances
Problems in new construction range from builders swapping promised luxury finishes for cheaper substitutes to leaving wiring dangerously exposed.
"Sloppy workmanship creates huge issues," says C. Jaye Berger of the Law Offices of C. Jaye Berger, a Manhattan attorney specializing in construction-related issues. "There are things that violate codes—like vents being put in at the ground level instead of the roof—and there are also a lot of problems with leakage. Some developers are on top of it, and build precautions into the developments like pumps and waterproofing, but others don't."
Other complaints arise out of poor planning and execution, continues Berger. "In one case, my client bought an apartment where all the cables for the entire building were in my client's unit. That means any time anyone in the building needs the cable guy to come in, they have to get access to my client's apartment. That's just stupid. It's bad construction," she says.