Ask These Questions
When considering New York City high-rise real estate.
What year was this building erected?
Chances are that any high-rise put up before 1995 in New York City was constructed around a union-built super structure.
Can you furnish a record of any work or reconstruction that was necessary to repair problems in the building’s super structure?
All buildings need maintenance. But when a new structure that's been put up within the past 20 years needs reinforcement at the foundation, that’s a sign of workmanship that may not have been top notch.
Can you identify the general contractor who put up this building?
There are GCs who only hire union, some who hire only non-union, and some in between. Knowing who put up your super structure can help give you confidence in the soundness of your building, or not.
Do you know if this building was built by unionized workers?
Since the incidence of non-union work crews has been on the increase in New York, starting in 2009, so has the rise of worker deaths, wage theft and tax evasion. Overworked, underpaid and mistreated staffs cannot be as focused on quality as you need them to be. Look for union-built.
Did any accidents or deaths occur while this building was being made?
Construction is dangerous work, but when a worker dies, it can be an indicator of other labor abuses that have led up to the ultimate tragedy. Investigators have found that contractors who skimp on safety and other regulations that cause deaths, often worked their way to that scenario by first stealing wages from staff, misleading inspectors and cutting work corners.
Were workers paid a living wage on the project?
Were workers paid a living wage on the project? New York has a living wage law and it's been skirted by contractors who hire non-union crews off the books. Short-changing workers is one way to ensure poorer quality on your building.
Have charges of wage theft been brought against contractors who worked on this building?
There are several ways to steal wages from workers: under-report their hours, misrepresent their roles, even simply withholding their pay. It's all been done in the name of achieving more profit for big developers. You might wonder if any of these "savings" are showing up in the price you're paying for the space.