Bradford Builder Jailed Putting Profit Safety

A Bradford builder has been jailed for trying to cut costs by doing his own gas and electric installation in a granny flat he was working on.

John Howe was taking so long finishing the construction the owner called in another builder who advised him power connections in the flat may be dangerous.

Bradford Magistrates’ Court heard that Mr Howe, trading as J Howe Plumbing and Construction, was paid around £28,000 to build a granny flat/bungalow at the back of a house in Crestwood Close, Bradford, belonging to Mr Khalid Rehman.

The defendant started work in May 2009 but by June 2010 Mr Rehman called in another builder after Mr Howe failed to turn up several times on site and finish the work.

Mr Howe had installed a gas boiler in the loft and gas hob in the kitchen and left them connected to the mains supply, despite not being a Gas Safe registered engineer. He also undertook electrical work and left it in an unsafe state.

Mr Rehman then asked Bradford Council’s Building Control to investigate and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) were notified.

Tests by HSE and a Gas Safe registered engineer showed gas work was unsafe and the boiler could have been a danger to life or property if operated.

An electrical test concluded Mr Howe’s work posed an unacceptable risk of injury or death.

HSE served a Prohibition Notice on Mr Howe on 25 November 2010 preventing him from carrying out any domestic gas work until he becomes competent and Gas Safe registered.

Bradford Magistrates jailed Mr Howe, of Bush Mill Fold, Queensbury, for four months after he pleaded guilty to five breaches of health and safety legislation and Gas Safety Regulations.

After the hearing, inspector Andy Denison, who investigated the case for HSE, said:
“Mr Howe selfishly chose to put a future resident of this property in danger, and it could very easily have ended in tragedy. It is fortunate that his incompetent work was discovered by another builder and reported.

“This was a good result from partnership working with Bradford Council and its building control experts. We uncovered a classic example of a builder trying to cut corners on a project and putting profit before safety. Mr Howe should have called in the registered professionals to ensure the necessary work was done safely.”

Justin Booth, a Bradford Council principal building control surveyor, said:

“One of our building control surveyors was called in by the owner and was immediately concerned about unsafe gas and electrical work being carried out and the Building Regulations being flouted. We arranged joint inspections and meetings with Gas Safe and later with the HSE to resolve the safety issues.

“The HSE decided to prosecute Mr Howe because his work had posed a risk to people’s lives 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, chief executive of Gas Safe Register, commented:

“Only a Gas Safe registered engineer should carry out gas work in your property. Every registered engineer carries a Gas Safe Register ID card with their own unique licence number.

“Before any gas work is carried out, always check their ID card to make sure your engineer is qualified for the work you want done and their qualifications are in date.”

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