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to expect the builder to pay to level a dangerous slope?

(5 Posts)
TiaMariaandDietCoke Fri 16-Sep-11 12:23:44

Have also posted in legal, but more traffic here and genuinely wondering am I being a bit U and OTT in worrying about this.

We moved into a new build in Northern ireland at the start of July - love the house, but several niggles are still to be worked out - most I'm able to sort myself, but not sure about the slope issue.

The garden falls away very steeply after the driveway at the side of the house - the slope drops about 2.5 -3 feet within a distance of 3 feet. - So a slope of up to 45 degrees.

It's far too steep to mow etc safely (we've tried and are doing our best to keep it tidy) - part of this area is our garden, part is a 'service' strip which we are responsible for maintaining but can't plant on etc - as there's no footpath between the side of our garden and the road, the service stip is where will people walk to get to the next few houses once they are built IYSWIM.

I'm worried that we could be held responsible if someone falls and gets hurt. The local kids are constantly running up and down the area and several have fallen already (no-one's been hurt yet that I know of, but it will be more dangerous when the road opens with cars going past etc).

We'd like the builder to put in a small retaining wall so that our land could be levelled out on one side of it, and the service strip could then be made level too. That way we can maintain both areas easily and the strip is safer for pedestrians. We're prepared to cover part of the cost of this if needs be, as obviously we'll benefit from our garden being more useable, but I think the builder may expect us to pay all costs. I don't know how much this would be, but he's indicated it may be around £1000 plus.

Are there any regulations that govern how steep this strip can be? surely we can't be given responsibility to maintain an area that will effectively be used as a footpath when its not possible to keep it safe without going to the expense of levelling it ourselves?

AIBU to think this work needs done and the builder should pay for it (at least most of it?) Would we be liable (perhaps through house insurance) if someone fell and hurt themselves? Any help greatly appreciated!

First time I've started a thread - apologies if it's a bit confusing - happy to provide any extra info needed!

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 16-Sep-11 12:41:36

I don't think you could be prosecuted for merely having a sloping garden. Pedestrians are meant to exercise a bit of commonsense. If you think £1000 is too much money for the retaining wall idea, could you shop around and ask other builders for a competitive quote? With the building industry being a bit flat at the moment, you may find someone happy to negotiate

TiaMariaandDietCoke Fri 16-Sep-11 12:55:20

Thanks Cogito - its not so much the sloping garden I'm worried about as such - its the fact that there is a clause in the same of the house that means we're responsible for maintaining the service area (which is really a grassy footpath IYSWIM) - but its so steep its practically impossible to walk on it safely and even more difficult to mow it etc. The way its written makes it seem that we would be responsible if anything happened (but we can't fence it off or plant on it to stop pedesrians using it as a footway) - I agree that people should use common sense, but unfortunately, no everyone does wink and it's being used all the time already...

If we do have to pay I will definately shop around (but the original builder is still doing work on our hosue, so I would wait until that's done to avoid any offence, as he's been great with pretty much everything else so far) - I suppose I'm just hoping there's some wee regulation or something that means we can get him to do it without any fuss and cost grin

SenoritaViva Fri 16-Sep-11 13:02:25

Who is in charge of the service area? Is it the council or a planning company for the new builds? Presumably it isn't actually the builders? I would speak to them about your concerns etc. I'd also seek a 'blame' situation (in writing) if they 'aren't bothered' and keep this on record.

I'm not sure also if you can speak to your local council, there will be regulations and they might be able to point you in the right direction.

TiaMariaandDietCoke Fri 16-Sep-11 13:23:12

Sorry, should have mentioned that - the builder is also the developer - so he owns the land (including the field behind us where the other houses will be built). From reading the sale documents, it will technically remain his property, but we're responsible for maintaining it. That's a good idea about getting it in writing - always a good plan! smile I'll speak to the council too.

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