06 Nov In the News: Collapsed houses in Chelsea
You may have seen in the media, the news that two multi-million pound houses collapsed in on themselves in Chelsea on Tuesday 3rd November. The papers and media outlets all seemed to come to the same assumption – that it was due to the excavation of a mega basement under the properties – it wasn’t.
Of course we were as shocked as anyone to hear about the house collapse in Durham Place, Chelsea on Tuesday and, when the alleged cause is attributed to a basement excavation, we were equally keen to understand exactly what happened. Any catastrophic event that contains the word ‘basement’ can only reflect badly on our industry as a whole.
While we had/have nothing to do with any of the projects in the news story we would like to stand up and have our say; after all, we are the leading basement specialists in the country and we can’t have our industry brought into disrepute.
Inaccurate from the start
There seems to be a bit of a vendetta against the humble basement conversion, we’re not entirely sure why but it’s fairly unfounded. OK it can be a little noisy and inconvenient on tightly packed streets but no more so than any other home improvements.
When it comes to reporting on anything to do with a basement extension or conversion, the subject is often attacked from an angle of hostility.
For example, Mail Online was in no doubt as to what happened… they even named Kapital Basements as the contractor undertaking a ‘mega-basement’ on this ‘£8.5m mansion’. Of course, it goes without saying that every ‘mansion’ in the capital is having a ‘mega-basement’ dug for the ‘rich celebs’ that live in the area and naturally it must be the ‘corner cutting poor workmanship’ that is to blame for these incidences.
Other papers carried the same story, the same ‘mega-basement’ theme; The Sun even mentioned digging deep for a pool… but then, they only valued the house at £4million!
A Bit of Clarity
As soon as we saw the photos on the web, it was obvious that the house displaying the Kapital Basements sign was still standing and that the house next door was the one that collapsed. A quick look on the RBKC Planning Portal quickly revealed that the properties which collapsed didn’t even have a basement, let alone a mega one.
An update of the Daily Mail story online even reproduced the plans of the property (taken from the RBKC Portal) clearly showing that there was no basement but instead, a proposed 3m extension to the lower ground floor. They even helpfully drew a red circle around the new extension and even made reference to it in the text, unfortunately they failed to acknowledge there was no basement.
As if scratching around for other evidence of wrong doing, they mention the completely irrelevant fact that the plans also show “all windows being replaced with painted timber double glazed sashes”!
Typically, responses, comments and tweets from readers all serve to confirm how terrible basement contractors are and, how it’s no surprise that houses are collapsing as a result.
While we can forgive readers for not ‘fact checking’ these reports, we were staggered that BBC Radio 2 and Jeremy Vine decided to devote am entire section of his show on Wednesday (4/11/2020) to the ‘latest basement collapse in London’ and invite listeners to call in with their basement disaster stories.
He should know better considering that just a few years back we secured consent for both him and his neighbour to dig their basements.
We feel for Kapital Basements and the impact on the rest of the basement industry. It’s a shame that no-one saw fit to correct the fact that it was clearly above ground works that caused this incident but then, why let the facts get in the way of a good story!!
Get in Touch
We are here to help answer any questions you might have. If you are thinking about undertaking a basement project, extending your property or having an underground garage installed make sure you give us a call. We are the leading specialists in basement conversions and design. You can call us on 01628 826066 or email us. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn for all the latest updates.
note: all quotes from the media were correct at time of writing (05/11/2020) – this blog is not updated inline with mainstream media.