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Problem with Severn Trent, lead pipes and multiple households

(15 Posts)
Gingernaut Thu 13-Apr-17 13:02:23

I have been living in rented accommodation for almost a year, whilst a builder sorts out my late Victorian mid-terraced house.

It's been very expensive as the house was poorly built, poorly maintained and most of the work done on the house over the years has been cowboy shoddy.

The problems really started when they pulled out the sink unit in the kitchen.

From there, all work has stopped.

Not only was there no DPM, the pipe leading to the main is lead. Naturally, he wants to change all this before starting the plumbing.

And of course, the plumbing must be done before the floor goes down. And the floor must go down before the kitchen goes in etc. etc.

However, after digging up the garden path to chase out the pipe, it turns out there is no external stop valve outside the house.

There is a stop valve in the street, but that cuts off about 6-12 houses in the terrace.

The neighbours are not to happy about their water supply being cut off.

Severn Trent have not been helpful.

The builder called them and was told it was a Severn Trent responsibility and that interfering with the water supply is a criminal offence.

I rang Severn Trent and as well as getting the ball rolling with a scheme to help householders replace lead mains pipes, I was told that the issue is a civil one.

We pop a note through the door advising the neighbours that their water supply will be disrupted for approx. 2 hours on a specific day and we can stop the supply for the essential works.

The application for Severn Trent to do the work can take up to 21 days, the contractors come out in the weeks after that.

This would add more money to the rent bill and I would also have to pay, two sets of bills, including coumcil tax for another possibly 3-4 months after spending a year renting.

Criminal or civil? What is the situation? Severn Trent have hired muppets on the customer service front and I can't find any advice online to address this very specific issue.

Would I be unreasonable to 'mock up' a form which the builder could pop through the neighbours' letter boxes stating thst their water supply could suffer disruption for X hours on X day due to an unforeseen incident/emergency essential works will have to take place and letting the builder give 24-48 hours notice?

CountMagnus Thu 13-Apr-17 13:26:00

Isn't the common supply pipe (the bit from the stopcock leading to the houses) the joint responsibility of all the householders connected to it? You'd be responsible for your own branch pipe? Are you planning to disconnect from the common supply pipe and get a new connection direct to the main?

Gingernaut Thu 13-Apr-17 14:01:02

The application to Severn Trent would be to disconnect from the communal branch and have my own connection.

I want to replace the lead pipe which is on my property.

This would entail stopping the water supply for a couple of hours at the most so the lead pipe can be removed (it's already been exposed in the ground under my path) and replaced.

CountMagnus Thu 13-Apr-17 14:18:37

So is the issue the stopping the water supply to the other householders for a couple of hours? Have you spoken to all your neighbours about the problem? It seems that sooner or later they will have the disruption to the water supply for a couple of hours, sooner if your builder does it and later if ST do it?

Can you use an ST approved plumber to do the work to avoid legal complications?

wowfudge Thu 13-Apr-17 14:23:35

This all sounds overly dramatic. Lead pipes are not the best, but not the end of the world either. Severn Trent will want to inspect the new plastic pipe before the trench is filled in.

Can you not just speak to the neighbours? I doubt it will be that a big a deal for them especially if the work is done during the normal working day so less disruptive if people are out at work. Can ST not help by splitting the supplies? Get your own stop cock fitted within your house's boundaries so you can turn off the water to your own house without turning off everyone else's.

Unless you have no floorboards or holes in a solid floor you don't put the flooring down before the kitchen is fitted.

specialsubject Thu 13-Apr-17 14:28:45

Two hours without water? What is wrong with your neighbours? Fill a few buckets and jugs, non problem.

PigletJohn Thu 13-Apr-17 14:30:05

it shouldn't take two hours. You dig the trench and lay the pipe, put the new stopcock and connector ready. Then start your stopwatch, turn off the water, cut the pipe, fit the new stopcock, turn the water on, stop your stopwatch.

It might take few minutes.

Once the stopcock is fitted, you have as long as you want to finish off.

Gingernaut Thu 13-Apr-17 15:04:08

I know this, however the builder went round the neighbours ASKING them if it was OK.

Those who could understand said no.

My 'plot' such as it is, is to warn that it IS happening on this date between these times (to be arranged by builder) and to do it without the neighbours' permission.

Gingernaut Thu 13-Apr-17 15:05:43

The ground floor is made of earth. The DPM will be laid out over the dried, tamped down soil, after the pipe has been dug out and replaced.

Gingernaut Thu 13-Apr-17 17:22:28

Just had a word with the builder who needs about 2 days notice.

Called Severn Trent who have set me up with an appointment for Tuesday 25th 0700 - 1300.

They're not allowed to switch the water off, but they can show up, check everything is working and ascertain how many households are going to be inconvenienced amd then the plumber can switch the water off. hmm confused Work that one out.

I've passed on the confirmation text message to the builder (building company with multiple contractors and staff (including plumbers)) and I hope that'll sort the issue.

wowfudge Thu 13-Apr-17 18:56:48

That sounds better OP.

Kokusai Thu 13-Apr-17 19:39:35

Yeah I'd prefer probably have just told the neighbours the water would be off for 2 hour s between 10-12 on <date> for nesesery repair work. Apologies for any inconvenience.

Anyway. Glad you've got some progress.

Gingernaut Thu 13-Apr-17 19:39:46

Yeah. It sounds better, but I'm guessing something will go tits up with that simple plan.....

Gingernaut Thu 13-Apr-17 19:41:33

My thinking too, Kokusai. A 2 hour disruption is preferable to a 6 hour disruption.

Gingernaut Thu 13-Apr-17 19:41:56

Potential 6 hour disruption...

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