Did house-collapse contractors break the law? City is mum

EXCLUSIVE: Contractor: ‘My careless workers caused Sandy-damaged home to topple’
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

Officials refuse to say if Build It Back contractors broke the law by working without proper oversight on a Gerritsen Beach home that fell over on Wednesday. Required safety inspectors were not present the day the Beacon Court home collapsed, according to Luis Tormenta of contractor LiRos Group. But authorities won’t say whether the move was illegal.

“We can’t provide legal analysis on comments by others. This incident is under investigation,” a Build It Back spokesman said.

Tormenta told a town hall in Gerritsen Beach last night that the work was “not scheduled,” but his company is now referring questions to Build It Back, and the program’s spokesman also ignored three requests to define the term.

LiRos has a $275 million contract with the federally funded, city-run program to fix and elevate hundreds of Sandy-damaged Brooklyn homes. The company requires three safety inspectors on site while workers are present, but that did not stop the builders, who should have known better, Tormenta said last night.

“We have contractors working for us that have been told that they can’t do that and they should know better, but they were working,” he said.

The city is investigating the collapse, and LiRos has resumed work on 53 homes it is fixing, a Build It Back spokesman said.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.