"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
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.