'Cowboy builders' bring down London house

The house caught at the moment of collapse.

A £660,000 house in Lewisham, London has collapsed in spectacular fashion after building work went badly wrong.

The house was bought six months ago by Sajdah Haq Williams and her husband Robert as an investment, and work began soon after.

However, yesterday lunchtime, the roof caved in and the first floor of the building fell into the street. Luckily, there was enough warning of the collapse to allow the police to evacuate nearby houses and close the street.

"It was strange, first of all a couple of bricks fell out then gradually the whole roof sagged outwards and some of it fell off. They were just about to start inspecting it with a cherry picker when the whole roof fell in; maybe it was the vibrations from the cherry picker," neighbour Ken Taylor tells the Evening Standard.

"It was really exciting, there was a big crunch and a big cloud of dust, it was like a bomb had gone off."

According to a builder working on a nearby property, the team working on the house had ripped out supporting timbers without putting anything else in place.

"The builders had removed all the ceiling posts and took the rafters down. I thought 'there's nothing in that roof, it's going to go,'" he tells Metro.

"There was no sign to say who the builder was. It was definitely dodgy builders – you can't bloody start taking rafters down before you take the roof off."

If true, it's another example of just how much damage incompetent builders can cause. While most people embarking on a building project are prepared for a bit of disruption, few expect to lose their house altogether.

And the worst thing is that it can happen even when the homeowner has done all their homework. Late last year, for example, we reported on the Wakeling family, who were forced to leave their home after work was ruled substandard - even though they'd checked the firm out with Companies House, seen its insurance certificate and taken up a reference.

Even the Wakelings, though weren't as unlucky as the Finchley couple whose house collapsed earlier this year during a cellar conversion. Not only was their insurance claim refused, they were slapped with a £318,000 demolition bill from the local council.

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'Cowboy builders' bring down London house
Geoff and Margaret Shipp have been ripped off by cowboy builders. Geoff is in the final stages of motor neurone disease, and their family and friends are worried that his precious days are being spent dealing with difficult living conditions and incredible stress.
They paid for their barn in Tunstall in Suffolk to be converted into a home where they could spend their retirement. They agreed for the work to be finished in March last year, but they have been left with a building site.
The state the property has been left in is causing it to deteriorate still further, as it isn't even water-tight.
The couple are spending their nights in the property, despite the fact it is uninhabitable.
The couple has no heating, running water, or a working bathroom.
The couple is concerned that even the work that has been completed is not up to standard.
In many areas their concern is understandable. They have had to bring in a new builder to repair much of the work.
The couple are doing what they can to put the cowboy builder's work right, but work has halted as they have run out of money
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