Monday, February 4, 2008

Faking construction plans

The city has used a brand new law to ban a rogue engineer for faking construction plans - but a loophole in Buildings Department rules let the alleged mastermind off scot-free.

Phony plans for buildings slip through city loophole

The Buildings Department barred licensed engineer Leon St. Clair Nation from city work on Jan 15.

It was the first time Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster invoked a state law enacted in September giving her the power to prohibit architects and engineers found guilty of filing false documents from working in the city.

In trying to go after higher-ups in the scheme, the department claimed expediter Hershy Fekete showed building owners how to save time and money by fudging plans, then hired Nation to rubber-stamp them.

Administrative Law Judge Kara Miller shot that down, saying Fekete could not be punished because the department has no rules governing so-called expediters, who help engineers and architects navigate city regulations.

"Expediters are not governed by professional code," Miller ruled, adding it would be "unreasonable to hold them to the same standard."

Buildings Department senior counsel Stephen Kramer said the agency is exploring ways to close the loophole.

Nation submitted the bogus paperwork under the department's self-certification process, in which plans are approved without prior review.


Anonymous said...

There are more loopholes than Swiss cheese
in our lousy laws.!

Do you want to believe that these were
mistakingly overlooked ?

Not me!

Nothing slips by even our lousiest lawmakers.

That would take developers' money out of the pockets of some of our most "illustrious" pols.

It was a case of accidently on purpose!

Anonymous said...

but a loophole in Buildings Department rule..



one of the reasons I never bother to read the latest DOB (blah blah blah)

Anonymous said...

A-ha gotch ya moments are gonna be rare with archetitects and engineers. Plans are submitted and self-certified.

One can be a whistle blower but without access which is mostly the case if the complaint involves the interior, good luck getting access or getting in the door.

Illegal conversions say from 1 family to 2 are easily hidden except for the hoards of residents comings and goings. CO fraud for example is a widespread practice under self-certification. But once in place, the value in a resale add the potential of getting a 1/3 more higher price than it's true comparable value (single family). How can an architect certify a 2 room basement without expanding the square footage as 4 rooms to qualify as a legal 2ond unit? Worse, under the building code you cannot have a stove, require egress - window sizes, doorway and hallway sizes that are far from meeting the code for saftey standards?

It time the city eliminate self-certification and charge exorbitant fees to those re-configuring single family homes to mltiple one. Send the architect or engineer to the poorhouse by stripping their license to practice in NYS, prosecute them for fraud against the government, fine and jail these folks whom are deliberately perpetuating a dangerious fraud.