Some Build it Back Homeowners Say City Needs to Return to Do More Work on Their Elevated Homes

They've moved back into their Sandy-damaged homes and are trying to put the storm behind them, but now, some Staten Island residents whose homes have been elevated say the city has told them more work needs to be done, this time to address a dangerous safety issue. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.

Just a year ago, Mary Lou Barcia stood alongside Mayor Bill de Blasio to promote the success of the city's storm rebuilding agency, Build It Back. The New Dorp Beach homeowner was among the first to move back into her newly elevated home.

But just months after celebrating that milestone, a frozen pipe drew contractors back to her house for repairs. While doing that work, Barcia says they made a startling discovery: that there was no fireproofing beneath the floor of her raised home.

"They put three, actually, three fireproof layers, because they were worried about the fire, too," Barcia said.

Under Build It Back, Sandy rebuilding work is done by construction firms chosen and paid for by the city.

Installing fireproofing requires contractors to rip off the existing siding from the underbelly of the raised home, add layers of fireproofing and insulation and then re-install brand new siding. It's a time-consuming process that comes out of taxpayer pockets.

Vladmir Libkind lives next door to the Barcias. He, too, was told there was a problem with his fireproofing and says it took workers nearly three months to fix it.

"Lousy, lousy job," he said.

But Libkind and Barcia aren't the only residents whose homes don't have the required fireproofing. Since this spring, the city has starting calling other newly elevated homeowners to schedule the repair work.

The city wouldn't say how many residents it called, but those familiar with the issue say there are half a dozen homeowners with the same problem, including one that has already cost the city nearly $775,000 to rebuild.

"You just wonder, what kind of construction companies is the city hiring? Who are these people that they're hiring to bring in to get these jobs done? And the cost?" said Marc Alvarez, a New Dorp Beach resident.

Build It Back says the issue was caused by changes to the building code that were enacted after the elevated homes had already gone up. The agency also wouldn't say how much the extra work costs.

The news comes after the agency recently announced a half-billion-dollar deficit.

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