There are nearly one million buildings in New York City, and more than 4,200 currently under construction, and it falls on the department to monitor them all.
When Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took office in 2002, he promised to reform the agency, a 116-year-old institution that had been plagued by corruption and accused of incompetence. Despite some progress, a recent spate of fatal construction accidents, most prominently a crane collapse in March that killed seven, led to the resignation of the buildings commissioner, Patricia J. Lancaster, last month.
The excavation team, which was formed nine months ago, has conducted 2,772 inspections on 1,685 sites, forcing half of those with active excavation to stop work at least temporarily.
Conditions at some 300 sites were found to be so egregious that a full engineering audit was ordered. Only two passed, said Timothy D. Lynch, chief engineer of the excavations team.
Many of the problems his team found had to do with the unique nature of building in New York, a city with virtually no undeveloped space but constant demand for more.
From Cracks to Falling Cranes, a Big Job for Building Inspectors