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Extension - Shared drain / manhole / water board issues

(7 Posts)
TwattyvonTwatofTwatsville Mon 13-Nov-17 09:47:36

Hi all.

We were in the middle of a fairly straightforward single story, side extension to our house.

Planning permission passed with no issues. Neighbours happy.

We are doing it on a 'building notice' as DP's best friend is an architect and helping us (as a favour).

This was all progressing nicely, and building inspectors were happy until we realised that a drain / manhole that we want to build over is a shared drain with our neighbour. Our neighbours' runs into the drain we want to build over.

The issue we have discovered is that where we live, a shared drain automatically belongs to the water company, and to neither myself or my neighbour.

The building inspector has raised this as a potential issue and we have halted building and filled out the relevant application form (a 'build-over application form) to the water company along with the rather eye-watering fee of £790.

We now have to wait - they have a 20 day window in which to respond. I believe they will want to inspect the drain / pipes in question using CCTV to ascertain that they are in good order before they HOPEFULLY give us permission to build over and replace the manhole for an air tight one (as it will be located within the new room.)

Has anyone had any experience of this? And any advice? Although my architect and my builder have seen plenty of other projects where a manhole has been built over and incorporated into a room (with a special sealed manhole cover) I am concerned that the water board could refuse permission, so am trying to plan for 'what if...'.

Many thanks.

Archipops Mon 13-Nov-17 13:54:32

Turn to pg 4 (bottom paragraph) about location of manholes. hope this helps.
https://www.thameswater.co.uk/-/media/Site-Content/Developer-Services/Guide-to-building-over-or-near-a-public-sewer.ashx?la=en

TwattyvonTwatofTwatsville Tue 14-Nov-17 15:10:53

archipops - thank you.

Thames isn't our water board but I imagine much is the same.

Archipops Tue 14-Nov-17 19:44:50

Apologies for being the bearer of bad news what you can’t do instead of what you can do, but hope u find a solution from there. Good luck!

MILdesperandum Tue 14-Nov-17 21:45:25

We've just been through this with Southern water. Frustratingly slow process but we were granted permission after agreeing to build the foundations as required to prevent damage to the pipe and replacing the pipe with new modern material (vitrified clay). We were able to have a manhole either side of our extention (on our own land) which helped as the water company will still be able to have good access (for rodding/jet washing) if the sewer ever becomes blocked.

TwattyvonTwatofTwatsville Wed 15-Nov-17 12:20:13

MILdesperandum - Southern Water is our water board! After over 2 weeks of leaving messages we finally got a phone call (after I went on Twitter and complained!) and were advised to fill out a build over application form and pay the fee and wait. Which we have done. But their turn-around is 20 working days in which to give you an answer!

Did you also have to move a manhole? I imagine they will insist we do that.

How long did it take you to get permission?

All the drains are on our own land so from what I have read we, the developer can arrange for the work to be done rather than have SW do it as would be the case if anything was on public land.

Any advice greatly received!!

MILdesperandum Wed 15-Nov-17 19:35:52

It took ablmost 2 months for us... this was partly due to the first lot of plans we sent off not being clear enough hmm. Frustratingly the only communication method Developer Services would use was a letter in the post and it took over a week for them to tell us that the plans weren't clear enough and then another week to write back saying they had received them and the 20 (WORKING) day period had begun.

We found we could never get through on the phone, were lied to about what had happened (they insisted our drains had been cctv'd when they hadn't - the company they contract that out to contacted us separately a few days after being told this). The phone lines were often down (suspect they take them off the hook -an operator at southern water told us they are understaffed). In the end DH complained to the CEO which got things moving the same day! and having our contractor talk to one of the guys in developer services cleared up a few points in 5 minutes which we'd been trying to find out about for weeks!!

We had to add a manhole as without that there would have been around 10m of pipe with only access from one end. Also our pipes were made of pitch fibre which southern insisted we replaced (pitch fibre is dreadful apparently and can fail) I think this is only an issue in houses built in the 60/70s??

All in all an incredibly frustrating (and expensive) process when from the outset we only wanted to do whatever southern required and left the drainage in a better condition than it previously was (better access and materials)all at our own expense!!

Good luck!

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