Philly City Council to Consider Bill Protecting Neighbors from Construction Damage

The proposal would hold builders accountable for damage incurred to adjacent homes as historic rowhouse properties see increased redevelopment.

May 17, 2021, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

A bill proposed in the Philadelphia city council "would require builders to have general liability insurance that protects adjacent properties during construction or demolition." Writing in Temple University's Philadelphia News, Thomas Riese reports that the bill "would make builders accountable for damage that some homeowners have grappled with for years, sometimes without knowing where to turn for compensation."

Advocates of the bill say it would be a first step in protecting homeowners from damage and preventing dangerous practices, but "would like to see more protections passed as laws that could serve as a 'Neighbors Bill of Rights.'" Community activist Drew Miller "said he’d like to see more collaboration between city departments, especially before project permits are approved."

The city's Department of Licenses and Inspection "currently has 69,529 open requests or complaints, and roughly 32% of those pertain to building structures, licenses, and construction." In part due to the architecture of Philadelphia's iconic rowhouses, adjacent property damage is "frustratingly predictable," according to historic preservation professional Starr Herr-Cardillo. "On a rowhouse block, when they’re built at the same time, they’re one structure." In many cases, demolition requires underpinning, a process designed to reinforce the foundation and prevent instability in the surrounding buildings. 

"Philadelphia has encouraged a development boom that spurred its economic growth, but residents and homeowners want to make sure they’re not taken advantage of along the way."

Monday, April 26, 2021 in Philadelphia News

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