L&I halts construction project after front of home collapses in Kensington

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) —  In the midst of Philadelphia’s building boom, the Department of Licenses and Inspections is having a hard time keeping up with contractors who violate the city’s rules and regulations.

Shoddy work has caused the collapse of several houses this year. L&I says they have placed a stop work order on a contractor after the front wall of a home his crew was demolishing collapsed.        

Jeremy Quattlebaum says he returned from a lengthy business trip to Europe to find this.

“You can see my chimneys exposed; you can see my flue on the second story exposure there. It’s unbelievable. I can see a big gaping hole that goes down to my basement. So, if we have rain tomorrow I’ll have flooding in my basement,” he said.

Quattlebaum says this is all collateral damage from what happened next door at 2053 East York Street on Monday.

According to L&I, the front of the house gave way and collapsed as workers were trying to remove it, brick by brick. But that’s not what witnesses claim they saw.

“They had a bunch of guys on a scaffold behind here pushing the wall forward. What could go wrong with that,” asked neighbor Bernie Spindel.

Spindel says he and other neighbors called 311 when the collapse revealed a project that went way beyond a simple addition to the back of the house. 

Clearspan Contracting’s Kevin Konieczny apparently was in the process of building a new home.

“This is my first renovation for myself,” he said. “I didn’t buy it to sell and flip it, I bought it for myself.”

L&I says Konieczny was issued two permits for work that included an addition on the back of house and interior demolition – not a permit for a complete renovation.

Reporter: “L&I told me that you went above the scope of your permit. That you had it for the rear, but you went and built the house.”

“No they exaggerated this. This is all blown out of proportion,” he replied.

Konieczny has since been cited for failing to create a safety zone around the site during the demolition of the front and he could potentially have his business license revoked or suspended.

Neighbors believe that Konieczny kept the front of the house intact as a way to hide his project.

However, he says that’s not true. According to Konieczny, he wanted to keep the front, but had to ditch it after discovering a structural flaw.  

“This had aluminum siding all the way down, so I couldn’t see what was underneath there until we started removing it. Then once we removed it there’s a big crack right here up the wall. So I said it’s gotta come down,” he said.

Konieczny has been ordered to stay off the property until an investigation is complete and all proper permits are obtained.

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