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Workers tried to cover up role in Build It Back home collapse, report says

Big mistake: Multiple city contractors are responsible for this Gerritsen Beach home collapse.
Brooklyn Daily
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The city fired contractors responsible for a house collapse in Gerritsen Beach earlier this year after finding that the workers skirted safety rules, fudged time sheets, and apparently lied to investigators about it.

The entire second floor of a two-story Beacon Court home toppled over on June 22 — one day after contractors for the city’s Build It Back home-reconstruction program set the structure atop a new foundation — because workers removed temporary bracing when they were not supposed to.

The city hired construction manager Liro Group to elevate the house — part of a $275-million contract with the Long Island company to raise and repair Sandy-damaged Brooklyn homes. Builders raised the house and set it on its new frame on June 21. But workers from W.A. Building Movers and Contractors — one of three subcontractors Liro hired for the project — removed temporary bracing before the building was secure, leading to the collapse, according to a Department of Investigation report obtained by this paper.

W.A. Building Movers tried to pin it on another subcontractor, but video from adjacent buildings and worker testimony proved they were not telling the truth, the report states.

Moreover, Liro construction manager Dreu Beers failed to warn W.A. Building Movers not to take out the bracing, and he tried to cover his tracks by telling investigators that he issued such a warning — even though none of the 14 people the city interviewed could back him up on that claim, according to the report.

“The occurrence of a meeting or discussion specific to not removing bracing with Mr. Beers was not corroborat­ed,” it states.

Officials also determined that inspector Ahmed Fouad Aboutayesh of HAKS Engineers, Architects, and Land Surveyors lied about being on site when the home was lowered onto its supports — and that project manager Daniel Waldrop of general contractor DSW Homes was the last to leave the construction site before the collapse and should have checked to see that bracing was in place.

W.A. Building Movers, Waldrop, Beers, and Aboutayesh have all been booted from working for Build It Back, a spokesman said.

Liro is still responsible for raising and rebuilding homes in Brooklyn, and Haks is still doing inspections in eight other work sites under contract with Liro, but the city has put new safety rules in place, and officials believe Liro and Haks will carry out the rest of their work safely, a Build It Back spokesman said.

“This is just one incident, and the contractor and individuals directly responsible were held accountable,” said rep Raul Contreras. “Our goal remains the same — help homeowners return to safe and resilient housing. We also work hard to ensure that our workers are operating in safe environments. Individuals or contractors that get in the way of that goal will continue to be held responsible for any shortfalls.”

Work has resumed on the Beacon Court home and is expected to be completed in early spring, he said.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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