Monday, April 3, 2017

Demolition leaves a mess in artist's home

From CBS 2:

A Brooklyn artist is fighting to save her home and her artwork from a messy situation.

As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, mud keeps gushing into Yan Kong’s studio, and she can’t seem to get any real help to make it stop.

A muddy waterfall repeatedly invaded Kong’s Gowanus, Brooklyn home. The residence doubles as a studio for the artist, who specializes in painted aluminum sculpture.

“They took down the house next to me where it used to be smacked against each other,” Kong said.

A narrow area between the two properties keeps overflowing with construction runoff, rainwater, and mud — clogging drains and getting in to cracks big and small.

She demanded repairs, reimbursements and compensation for days of lost work. But she said all she got was brief help from workers with brooms.

Kong said she has an attorney who is preparing a lawsuit against the property owner.


JQ LLC said...

You can't get help because the city and your predator developer neighbor want you out, Ms. Kong.

The only way you'll get any help or even a little respect is if you sell out and do an art exhibition promoting one of their next luxury tower projects.

This woman's works are pretty nice too. The big shocker is that I thought they already kicked out all the artists by that superfund site.

Anonymous said...

The only way to protect her is to get a mayor who isn't in the pocket of developers.

Anonymous said...

i work as an engineer who specializes in the defense of properties that neighbor construction. this situation is not uncommon. the city DOES has a substantial interest in protecting people, HOWEVER, they don't get involved in civil matters - which restitution and/or repairs might be. if there is ongoing damage or a professional determines there is a substantial risk of additional damage, DOB will shut the job down if they find the belief creditable.

the developers aren't stupid, and respond only to one thing: money. so here's my advice, free of charge:
- if a neighboring building is about to undergo a full demolition, GET AN ATTORNEY AND AN ENGINEER IMMEDIATELY
- if a neighboring building is excavating more than 4' below the sidewalk, GET AN ATTORNEY AND AN ENGINEER IMMEDIATELY
- if "underpinning" comes up even in passing GET AN ATTORNEY AND ENGINEER IMMEDIATELY
- if there is pile driving or pile drilling equipment on site, same thing
- if the neighbor is building higher than your building
- if the neighbor is working on extending, removing, or altering a party wall, or the wall of an independent building that contacted yours

there is an entire chapter of the building code dedicated to the obligations of those developing a site. it is extremely long and very arcane, but ultimately, violations of almost any portion of chapter 33 is considered a threat to life safety. DOB does not fuck around with that - but they do want to hear about the ongoing threats from a professional.

do not wait until you have already been damaged, because then it is a civil matter and the department cannot help you. as soon as you suspect one of those things is going on, lawyer up immediately. a lot of the building code requires your consent, and a good lawyer will include that such consent is predicated on the neighbors paying for his fee. only a lawyer can give you legal advice on your rights, and properly deny consent, and make developers very miserable if their cooperation and protection is not forthcoming.

i'll leave you with this: GET A LAWYER!!!!

(sarc) said...

Beware of "April Showers".

They seem to be bringing Yan Kongmore than just spring flowers.

So much for for a simple still life...

Anonymous said...


Why should poor homeowners who can barely make ends meet in this overpriced city have to pay for attorneys and engineers they can't afford? It should be law enforcement's job to make sure they FOLLOW THE LAW.

Anonymous said...

you're completely correct - the city should enforce it, and often they do. if they are notified of people who are currently breaking the rules of the building code or who will do so in the future, they WILL intervene. but saying "they flooded my basement" refers to an incident in the past, and DOB are not magicians who can undo that damage. this is where lawyers and engineers help.

you can try to go it alone, but professionals who deal with this and know how to talk to these agencies (and to the terrible, selfish neighbors) in a way they comprehend will be more successful. in the best case, even if you convince DOB to shut the job down, you're going to end up paying for a lawyer and engineer for the litigation for the damage - and once it is in litigation, those costs aren't recoverable. but if you are ahead of it with a lawyer in tow, the lawyer will broker the arrangement so the neighbor doing the work pays the fees. that happens all the time.

the old legal saying is "the lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client." that applies here too.

the one other piece of advice i would dispel - if there are ongoing issues, the insurance for the general contractor is public record. notify their carrier of their ongoing damage and say if you aren't responded to you will be filing a claim. that will often get you a phone call, at least.

i'm telling you how it works from inside the business, not from the standpoint of a utopian ideal. it's free advice in the internet, do with it whatever you want. i feel for these people, i really do, as i do for all my clients, and that's why i'm in this business. professionals will protect you infinitely better than you can on your own. many firms offer payment plans. talk to them. but be smart and get protected by people who know the stakes.

faster340 said...

"Why should poor homeowners who can barely make ends meet in this overpriced city have to pay for attorneys and engineers they can't afford? It should be law enforcement's job to make sure they FOLLOW THE LAW."

Because they will end up losing more than the cost of legal fees. And yes it should be law enforcements job but they don't do it. So what else are you going to do? Lose your house or be on a payment plan for some legal fees? I know which one I would pick.

Anonymous said...

faster340 - exactly. we have projects where the owner tried to work with the developer directly but only called us in after they had $450k in damage and 2 years had elapsed with the developer saying they would fix it. eventually the developer offered them $40k or said sue us.

but on a different project where we were involved early, the developer had to install and maintain nearly $300k in protection, plus tenant and business interruption escrows, insurance, and as a result there was virtually zero damage. the owner had to come up with about $4k out of pocket up-front before getting reimbursed by the developer and having them take over the costs of both our fees and that of the attorney's.

you can rely on the city or your neighbor if you want but you've been cautioned. if your neighbor is ruining your property they have no hesitations about screwing you over either. the longer you wait the more expensive it becomes and the more damage will be present. get protected early. that's my advice. they're building an $8-10m building, they can afford $150k to avoid lawsuits and headaches. they know that and you should too.