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Building firm in court after Wolverhampton house collapse

Photo shows the partially collapsed house after the incident

A Wolverhampton building firm has been fined for neglecting basic construction safety after it dug a trench that caused the partial collapse of a house next door.

On 4 June, Wolverhampton magistrates court heard that Astbury Design and Build Ltd. had been employed to build an extension at a property in Blackburn Avenue.

The firm’s owner Paul Astbury dug a foundation trench to the left of the house but it was far too close to, and the same depth as, the foundations of the neighbouring semi-detached house.

On the night of 23 February 2012, the night after the trench was dug, part of the house, an upstairs bedroom and integral garage collapsed.

Around a third to a half of the property had to be demolished, but the house has since been re-built. Fortunately, the tenants were not at home, and there were no injuries.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found Astbury Design and Build Ltd. had failed to notify the owner of the next door property of the intention to dig the trench, or how he would be doing it, as required under Party Wall Notification laws.

The neighbour had already appointed a party wall consultant regarding the ongoing works as there were negotiations about shared guttering and the fact the party wall blocked an existing window in the garage. The consultant had warned Mr Astbury not to undermine the foundations.

Astbury Design and Build Ltd., of Bushbury Road, Wolverhampton, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £7,500 and ordered to pay costs of £4,500.


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