"Mr Goldswain, 40, and Miss Hale, 39, were extending the property in Finchley in November 2012, a year after buying it. But the builders failed to support the structure correctly and two months into the work it began to crack.
Disaster struck on November 24 when the gaps began to widen following a storm. Miss Hale said: “The day it all happened was like something out of a disaster movie. It was like an earthquake had hit. You could see the cracks widening by the second and the house splitting apart.”
The couple had seen half-centimetre cracks in the brickwork and called their builders, AIMS Plumbing & Heating Limited, who came round to inspect. She said the builder had “looked a bit worried” and put up some scaffolding between their property and the adjoining house. Shortly afterwards their upstairs neighbour told them cracks were widening in the walls."
I feel sorry for them - I do.
But I wonder how anyone could get into this position. The obvious mistakes seem to include:
1) Using a firm called "blah Plumbing and Heating" to do a seriously difficult structural modification.
2) Not makign sure there was liability and indemnity insurance in place and that it was current.
3) Was building control involved?
4) Because the BCO would likely have asked for a structural engineers report and calculations.
5) I'm going to assume the family's home insurance was voided because of irregularities with 1-4 - but if they'd phoned them in advance, the insurers would probably have made them check clerical safeguards were in place (like 2,3 and 4).
I don't trust random builders to do a doorway right without being watched like a hawk (personal experience). Certainly if I undertook work like this, I'd have the structural engineer engaged to manage the structural elements of the work and to inspect them himself.