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‘Iceberg Basement’ Causes Upscale Building Collapse

A wealthy family was lucky to escape after their five-bedroom detached London home collapsed in the middle of the night. The mishap was attributed to attempts to install an underground bedroom and playroom.

According to Kingston Council, the work may have been done without obtaining approval from local building control inspectors first, and the matter has been brought to the attention of the Health and Safety Executive.

The  £1.15 million home in Southwest London was empty when the building collapse occurred at close to 1:00 a.m. Hundreds of bricks gave way at the property and doors and windows were left in a pile.

The owner, originally from Saudi Arabia, had submitted a planning permission request that included the demolition of an on-site conservatory, swimming pool, and outbuilding. He also sought permission to increase the roof height and build a two-storey side extension and iceberg basement.

Cllr David Cunningham of Kingston Council said that the property owners had submitted a building regulations approval only two days previously and did not receive approval or guidance for carrying out their works.

Mr Cunningham said that the council’s primary concern was to ensure that the remaining building was structurally sound. It is working with contractors to complete the work as soon as possible. Afterward the building is made safe, the incident will be reported to the  Health and Safety Executive for further investigation.


One neighbour, Sharon Gouhar, said her family were rushed out of their house in the middle of the night. The 55-year-old woman said that they were woken by a ‘big bang’ that left clouds of dust around the house and made her children’s rooms shake. Emergency services persuaded the family to leave the house for a while but they could not find a hotel with their dog, so they ended up sleeping in their office.

Ms Gouhar, who owns a cafe, said she knew the property next door had recently been sold, but was unaware of what kind of work was in progress. She added, “Everyone around us is building” and admitted that builders had been seen coming and going. Recently the entire roof had been taken off the house, presumably to put up another floor.

A London Fire Brigade spokesperson confirmed that firefighters had been called to a building collapse in Kingston Vale in the early hours of morning, and found that most of the two-storey home had come down.

The spokesman said that an extensive search was carried out, and it appeared that no one was in the house at the time of the incident.

The police also confirmed that no one had been hurt during the crash. A Metropolitan Police spokesman stated that the incident had been referred to the London Borough Council of Kingston-upon-Thames.

Specialists in Construction Insurance


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