Two New York City licensed trade groups have sued the city's Dept. of Buildings (DOB) over the agency's approval of work on prefabricated building units for Atlantic Yards' B2, a 32-story modular residential tower under way in Brooklyn.

The groups—the Mechanical Contractors Association of New York and the Plumbing Foundation City of New York (PFCNY)—charge that off-site work done in a factory without supervision of DOB-licensed master plumbers and fire-suppression contractors violates core Construction Code requirements. The suit, filed on July 8 in the state Supreme Court, New York County, also names DOB Commissioner Robert LiMandri.

"The majority of the work—especially the gas piping, plumbing piping and the sprinkler piping—is being installed in the individual apartment units off-site and is not being done by licensed firms," says Stewart O'Brien, PFCNY executive director.

Licensed tradesmen are required to perform on-site installation of plumbing and fire-suppression systems, "regardless of where the parts are assembled," DOB said in a statement. The systems must meet building-code standards, and licensed professionals "are responsible for installing these systems at a construction site, not the manu-facturing or assembly of these systems before they reach the site," it adds.

The suit, however, may not get far in court because the groups appear to lack standing to pursue the case, says Eric Su, an industry attorney with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart P.C., New York City. The building code sections at issue are intended to protect prospective occupants and neighbors of the building under construction. The groups "are not placed in imminent danger by the interpretation of the building code by the city DOB and its commissioner," says Su, who is not involved in the case. He expects the suit to be dismissed.

Some 60% of the work on the $117-million tower is done in a factory.