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Red Flags NYC Real Estate Shoppers Need Know About

Keep your eyes peeled for these telltale signs of shoddy construction, they could keep you out of a non-union real estate nightmare. 


A nice coat of paint can obscure problems that lie beneath. Considering the price of New York real estate, it makes sense to ask who built the property.

Navigating the New York City real estate market is a minefield. Properties that appear luxurious may be hiding cutrate, non-union construction that could turn your dream home into a nightmare. Knowing what to look out for is key. Keep your eyes wide open for these telltale signs of substandard, non-union workmanship:


Shoddy Tile Work

Think those crooked bathroom tiles are just a cosmetic issue? Think again. Low-quality or uneven tiling suggests hasty work by untrained workers, a sure sign a job was not done to union construction standards. This could signal much larger issues. 


Cracking Up

Cracks scream foundation trouble, especially when they are larger than an eighth-inch or are uneven. Sticky doors or windows and uneven floors might also reveal problems. Perhaps the most glaring example of foundation trouble in New York today is the Leaning Tower of Pizzarotti— a tilting non-union built money pit—  but even minor foundation issues can be a nightmare. Here’s a tip: place a marble on the floor, if it rolls there may be an issue. 


Dangerous mold resulting from bad construction can be hidden behind tiles and baseboards, but it's presence in the air is very real.

Menacing Mold

Keep an eye out for black or gray spots— both telltale signs of mold. Mold is not just unsightly, it can pose serious health risks and signal water damage from leaks, poor ventilation, or other issues. These issues can happen even in so-called “luxury” buildings, like the non-union built Two Blue Slip, in which unfortunate residents ended up with water pouring from their ceilings. 


Costly Window Woes

Windows that stubbornly resist opening, have skewed frames, or look clumsily installed are a red flag. As discussed, they can indicate serious issues with the foundation. They can also indicate the use of materials and installation methods that are not up to union standards. If this is the case, there’s only one fix and it’s going to cost you— installing new windows.

Approach your NYC home hunting journey with a discerning eye. Union-built properties typically boast higher quality, a result of only using highly trained workers and use best in class materials and techniques. On the other hand, non-union work can often lead to the red flags outlined above. While a home inspector might uncover these issues later, educating yourself can save time, stress, and prevent you from investing in a potential money pit.


Mark Colangelo is a writer and blogger.

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