Question: Is There Construction on Your Block?

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    When we moved to eastern Bed Stuy five years ago, our block was sleepy and quiet. Most of the houses are only three stories high, and there were quite a few empty lots as well as a pretty community garden. We liked the “land that time forgot” feel, as well as the big expanses of sky.

    Now, as of about a month ago, there are four active construction sites on our block. It’s not an isolated phenomenon: Bed Stuy and Bushwick exploded with construction about a year ago. Many crews kept working even through this extraordinary, snow-covered winter, and now that the snow has finally melted, we see exterior work resuming at a brisk pace. (Above, construction work at 420 Tompkins.)

    One of our neighbors recently complained that vibrations from a digger had dislodged a big-screen TV from her wall. She was relieved none of her kids were hurt, but the TV broke and so did the coffee table it landed on. We also heard from another neighbor several blocks away, who said digging at a site next door caused such intense vibrations — like an earthquake — that neighbors on the block came pouring out of their houses to see what was going on.

    And of course, we often hear of excavations — even permitted ones — that cause severe structural damage to neighboring houses, which then have to be evacuated, sometimes permanently.

    So we have two questions for you. One, is there construction on your block right now? And two, what can you do to protect yourself and your house against potential structural damage?

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