In November, a historic Georgian townhouse in Barnes, London collapsed dramatically whilst being renovated. The Terrace was a 200 year old property that had been bought at auction for £3.5 million in 2014 by David Kassler, the former head of Phones4U. The property featured six bedrooms, four bathrooms and three reception rooms, all in a highly desirable location. The building even bore a plaque for Ebenezer Morley, the creator of the rules of Association Football.
The collapse happened when the construction company entered the property to erect scaffolding and start work on enlarging the basement to accommodate a cinema, wine cellar and a gym. The building was already in a poor state of repair and had been left without a roof for a period of time. The disturbance led to the collapse of an exterior wall and two internal floors. It resulted in the closure of the riverside road the property is situated on and the evacuation of a neighbouring home for fear it too could come down. Fortunately nobody was injured, but the collapse caused extensive disruption to many people and resulted in the destruction of a beautiful historic building.
The construction company claims that the collapse occurred because the building was too old and unstable. They also point to the fact that extensive building work has been done on the home in the past. All of these factors combined made the property unsafe. It seems clear that work should not have begun on the structure until a full survey was done and steps were taken to reinforce it.
Richmond Council was forced to step in and send council officers to the site to inspect the building, particularly with the front elevation remaining in a precarious position. Following the collapse, the priorities were to ensure that the rest of the structure was made safe and that there was no risk to the neighbouring home.
At Denon Construction we have extensive experience providing support systems for structural alterations in city centres. We know how vital it is to ensure that structures are suitably reinforced before any kind of renovation work begins. The Terrace should have been effectively propped to give it the necessary stability for work to commence. This is even more important when a roof is missing, as it was in this case, because the lack of a roof leaves walls balancing precariously and at risk of collapse if care is not taken.