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Building work: The high cost of cheap alternatives

Building work - The high cost of cheap alternatives

We all get frustrated at losing work to someone who's quoted significantly less. Even worse, you know that the job can’t be done for that price even if you were prepared to lower standards or dumb down the quality of your service to win the building work. But should the end result of that ‘cost saving’ decision be a huge pile of rubble where a house once stood?

Unimaginable? Well this recently happened to a property in Manchester.

Manchester City Council building control officers received a complaint from a concerned resident and found there was no planning permission or building regulations approval for the project.

When they visited the site, they found a huge excavation seriously undermining the existing house foundations. They also found that all of the ceiling joists and purlin props had been removed leaving the roof liable to collapse.

So great were the concerns that a team from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) were also called in and immediately issued a prohibition, ordering all work at the site to stop.

The city council’s building control team were left with no option but to serve a Section 78 Dangerous Building – Emergency Measures Notice on the owner of the property.

Because of the very limited options available, contractors were called in to safely demolish the building before it collapsed on its own.

The owner will also have to foot the bill for the demolition work and the concrete used to flood the basement to secure the undermined party wall.

How to avoid disaster

Councillor Angeliki Stogia, the Council’s Executive Member for Environment and Skills, said: “The risk to life at this site was very real and we will have no hesitation to intervene with any building that is being refurbished in an unlawful and dangerous way.

"Building owners need to be mindful of the potential risks associated with inappropriate alterations without guidance from professionals such as structural engineers, surveyors and architects.

"The council’s building control team is always willing to discuss the type of work property owners want to carry out. Because the owner of this property failed to do so, the costs to make the building safe are likely to be considerable.”

Interested in this subject?

Try these: Why you should use temporary propping and How to get it right: childproofing windows

Published December 2017