top of page

Caveat Emptor

The past year in NYC construction confirms the Latin tenet: Let the Buyer Beware

Caveat Emptor Hero.png

A Google Earth image of the luxury condo on East 86th Street in Manhattan, where residents have sued the developer for "deficient" and "hazardous" construction. The developer, Glenwood Management, trusted non-union contractors to do the work.

New York City’s construction machine is revving high.


The Department of Buildings says there are well over 40,000 active construction projects happening here right now. And they anticipate many more to start soon. The New York Building Congress says that NYC construction spending in 2022 reached $86 billion, a 19 percent increase over 2019, which was the previous high.


But rather than being a harbinger of good times for the industry and for city residents, many experts see this trend as an omen of frightening things to come.


These experts cite another statistic: the fact that over 70% of the city’s construction workforce is not unionized, which means that more than half of those 40,000 projects are being run by non-union builders. A quick look at the records of many of those builders gives in-the-know New Yorkers plenty of reason to worry.

Many experts see this trend — more projects, more non-union contractors — as an omen of frightening things to come.

Caveat Emptor Render.png

A rendering of the building offered by the architects in 2013 -  Archpartners

The evidence is everywhere.


In Manhattan, tenants of the luxury condo at 60 East 86th Street have taken the developer of that building to court. They accuse Glenwood Management — which hired non-union contractors to do the work — of “deficient” and “hazardous” construction. They cite a long list of complaints that includes odors coming from fireplaces and kitchens, a flaking and unsafe limestone facade, rusting balconies, water leaks, and a failing sprinkler system.


And this is just the latest case of non-union work not being top to New York City standards. Union-Built Matters has featured buildings put up in New York by non-unions that have become unbearable, money-pit hassles for residents. From Brooklyn, to Queens, to Manhattan, regretful tenants tell us, beware non-union.


Meanwhile, the superior work of unions has been shared on this site in interviews with Department of Buildings inspectorsreal estate executivespublic officialspolitical leaders, and the tradespeople themselves. Each of them echoed the same bottom line: Union-built is better-built.


The number of construction projects in the city revs higher. Non-union contractors — many of whom have shown themselves willing to cut corners, to cheat the system, to steal from workers — continue to proliferate. All this drives the risks to New York residents, like those suffering at the Glenwood condo, higher and higher.


Until our legislation catches up to the unscrupulous builders who continue to reap havoc on New York tenants, we have one simple word of advice to everyone shopping for real estate here: caveat emptor. Protect yourself by asking your agent to confirm whether or not the building you’re considering was made by New York City’s construction unions — the best and most reliable builders in the world. If their answer is no, beware.

Get Our Monthly Newsletter

Stay up to date on what's happening in New York construction. Our news comes from major media publishers, real estate and construction trade insiders, and the people involved in the industry every day. And it's free.

Non-Union Stories Page Video Poster.jpg
See Why Union-Built Matters To You

There are 3 good reasons why you should care who built the NYC building you work, shop, learn or live in.

Email Your City Councilman
Tell them you want better safety laws and enforcement for NYC construction workers. Pick your rep, add your name, and hit send.
Contact Your State Senator
Tell them you plan to vote for candidates who support the working class and unions. Find your senator, and call or write them.
Share Your Construction Story
Maybe you or someone you know has a similar NYC construction story. We’ll take your words, pictures, or videos.
Share This Story With Friends
Spread the word about the untenable situation in NYC construction. Click a link below.
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
bottom of page