Chimney damage – building next door responsibility

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Topic: Chimney damage – building next door responsibility

Chimney and Fireplace February 12, 2013 at 10:16 am

Chimney damage – building next door responsibility

I have a 3 story building and a 5 story condo went up next to me. They extended my fireplace chimney as per DOB guidelines as it is their responsibility since they erected a larger building. Hurricane Sandy knocked out part of it and I have spent the last 3 months of trying to get them to fix it and am getting the run around. I am about to file a complaint with the DOB, but was wondering if anybody else has had an experience like this. Any advice or pointers would be very apprecaited

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How long ago did they extend the chimney?

Wouldn’t your homeowners insurance cover this, and wouldn’t your insurabce company go after the condo if they were ultimately at fault?

Even though they extended your chimney as per local building code, it is still on the footprint of your property, right?  So is it your chimney?  You might want to look at the legalese of ownership at the property line/party wall, as well as the contract regarding warranty on the extension construction.

Does the DOB code say that the neighboring building has an obligation to maintain your new chimney in perpetuity?  Or only that having created the new condition they have to remedy it by creating a new chimney?  It would seem to me (without knowing) that the chimney, if properly constructed, is now yours to maintain.  But I am sure that there has been litigation on this before.  Why wouldn’t you contact an insurance company if you suffered a storm related damage?

if it wasn’t due to defective work that they originally provided (per code), properly constructed and doing its job, and the damage was just due to the storm, i would find it hard to imagine they would be responsible.  
One could make an argument that they should have provided a chimney that could at least withstand tropical storm winds (which i understand sandy technically was categorized when it made landfall).  
personally,when i think about the amount of fighting and stress possible in getting them to replace it, i would just call your insurance without even mentioning that the neighbor built it – let them do their due diligence, perhaps they will fix it and not even care with the amount of claims they have.  if the neighbor didn’t build it right the first time, i’m not sure i’d want their people rebuilding it again anyway.  but that’s just me.    

It seems like your property was made worse by the condo constructed next to it.  What, other than the storm, contributed to this result?  What would an engineer specializing in historic brick say?  There are many chimney cases like this, and whole houses have shifted.  Do Toll Brothers always win, or do small property owners get favorable settlements?  

The building code is very specific on it.  The new building is responsible for the extension of the flue and the maintenance of the extension.  They are responsible for ensuring that their building does not in any way negatively affect the ability of the flue.  Forever.
Now as for the reality of getting them to do it, that’s another question.  They can be reported to the DOB by calling 311.  If the inspector determines that they are not living up to their obligations, they may get a violation.

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