A Bradford builder was sentenced to prison for attempting to save money by performing his own gas and electric installation in a granny flat he was working on.
Because John Howe was taking so long to complete the construction, the owner called in another builder, who warned him that power connections in the flat could be dangerous.
Mr Howe, trading as J Howe Plumbing and Construction, was paid around £28,000 to build a granny flat/bungalow at the back of Mr Khalid Rehman’s house in Crestwood Close, Bradford, according to Bradford Magistrates’ Court.
The defendant began work in May 2009, but by June 2010, Mr Rehman had hired another builder after Mr Howe failed to show up on site several times and complete the work.
Despite not being a Gas Safe registered engineer, Mr Howe installed a gas boiler in the loft and a gas hob in the kitchen and left them connected to the mains supply. He also did electrical work and left it in an unsafe condition.
Mr Rehman then requested an investigation by Bradford Council’s Building Control, and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was notified.
Gas work was unsafe, according to HSE and a Gas Safe registered engineer, and the boiler could have been a danger to life or property if used.
According to an electrical test, Mr. Howe’s work posed an unacceptable risk of injury or death.
Mr Howe was served with a Prohibition Notice by the HSE on November 25, 2010, prohibiting him from performing any domestic gas work until he becomes competent and Gas Safe registered.
Mr Howe, of Bush Mill Fold, Queensbury, was sentenced to four months in prison by Bradford Magistrates after pleading guilty to five violations of health and safety legislation and Gas Safety Regulations.
Following the hearing, HSE inspector Andy Denison stated, “Mr Howe selfishly chose to put a future resident of this property in danger, and it could very easily have ended in tragedy.” It’s a good thing another builder noticed and reported his incompetence.
“This was a successful collaboration with Bradford Council and its building control experts.” We discovered a classic case of a builder attempting to cut corners on a project and prioritising profit over safety. Mr. Howe should have enlisted the help of registered professionals to ensure that the necessary work was completed safely.”
According to Justin Booth, a Bradford Council principal building control surveyor:
“When one of our building control surveyors was called in by the owner, he was immediately concerned about unsafe gas and electrical work and violations of the Building Regulations.” To address the safety concerns, we scheduled joint inspections and meetings with Gas Safe and, later, the HSE.
“The HSE decided to prosecute Mr Howe because his work put people’s lives in danger, and we were able to support the prosecution.”
“I hope this prosecution will serve as a warning to any other builders that they may be taken to court if they do not comply with regulations which are there to ensure people are safe in their own homes.”
Paul Johnson, CEO of Gas Safe Register, commented:
“Only a Gas Safe registered engineer should work on the gas in your home.” Every registered engineer is required to carry a Gas Safe Register ID card with their own unique licence number.
“Always check their ID card before any gas work is performed to ensure your engineer is qualified for the work you want done and that their qualifications are up to date.”