Glen Peters (trading as Brow Builders) set about digging out the basement of a house in Brighton in February 2015. But he undermined the structural integrity of the house. When cracks appeared he failed to act on the advice of a structural engineer on how to remedy the situation. This resulted in the gable wall partially collapsing and the ground floor collapsing into the basement. Adjacent properties had to be evacuated and the area cordoned off because of the dangers.
Hove Crown Court heard how the subsequent investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that the property had bungeroosh walls, common to buildings in the Brighton area that were built in the mid-18th to 19th century. They are constructed with a mixture of rubble, timber, pebbles, stones and flint in a lime mix mortar set between shuttering. The make-up of these walls makes working on this type of building more challenging in terms of structural stability, meaning that those doing so must understand what they are dealing with.
The investigation also found that Glen Peters failed to report the incident to HSE as a dangerous occurrence in accordance with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases & Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 2013.
Glen Peters (trading as Brow Builers) of Woodingdean, Brighton, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 25(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and Regulation 7 of the RIDDOR Regulations 2013. He was sentenced to five months imprisonment for count one and two months imprisonment for count two to run concurrently. He was also ordered to pay costs of £7,000.
HSE principal inspector Emma Stiles said: “Basement work must be properly planned to ensure the structural integrity of the building throughout the construction work. When this type of work is done badly, workers and members of public are at significant risk of serious injury or death. In addition, we cannot underestimate the impact on the homeowners when their properties are extensively damaged.”