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    • Rosy Apple
    • By Rosy Apple 15th May 17, 2:14 PM
    • 137Posts
    • 27Thanks
    Rosy Apple
    Public Sewers in Garden
    • #1
    • 15th May 17, 2:14 PM
    Public Sewers in Garden 15th May 17 at 2:14 PM
    Hi all,

    I was wondering if anyone had any advice as I am going round in circles on this one.

    We are about to exchange (pending a few final issues being ironed out, including this one).

    The house is Victorian and hasn't had any extensions. There are three manhole covers on the patio of the house. The patio has a concrete foundation with slabs laid on top.

    Our Solicitor has advised that because of the concrete foundation over the sewers (not the manhole covers) we need to buy Sewer Indemnity Insurance in case the water company ever need access to the sewers.

    The Vendor's Solicitor has said that this isn't necessary as the manhole covers are accessible. Also, they didn't lay the concrete foundation for the patio they just changed to patio slabs instead of decking. Therefore, their understanding is that they didn't need 'build over' permission.

    I am not entirely sure who is right and reading the Thames Water online documentation isn't making anything much clearer. If we do need to buy sewer indemnity insurance then I would like the vendor to split the cost with us, however, their Solicitor is refusing on the basis that it isn't required in the first place.

    I know if we contact Thames water to ask then we won't be able to take any indemnity insurance out!

    Any thoughts would be much appreciated.
Page 3
    • 00ec25
    • By 00ec25 19th May 17, 6:48 PM
    • 4,770 Posts
    • 4,148 Thanks
    00ec25
    I informed my Solicitor of this but they have said they will have to tell our mortgage lender that we are not taking out the insurance and this will push our exchange date back whilst they wait to see if the lender is ok with this. They also suggested that we are 'opening a can of worms' and that this may prompt our lender to look into other details of the property too, they may also decide that they will not allow us the mortgage unless we take out the insurance. The person I spoke to said that this is a risk they wouldn't personally take. I am not even sure what else they could look into?
    Originally posted by Rosy Apple
    i would ask the solicitor / conveyancer for a statement in writing:
    a) confirming if they get any commission on the sale of indemnity insurance
    b) on what lender's criteria are they acting when compared to the publicly available information from Thames Water explaining when a build over agreement is required
    c) on what information are they basing their judgement that the "patio" does not meet the above requirements, and what qualifications do they have to make such a judgement

    their stance is incredible and you should inform them you will be forwarding the response, along with your complaint, to the Law Society (the solicitor's regulatory body)
    • Rosy Apple
    • By Rosy Apple 22nd May 17, 9:52 AM
    • 137 Posts
    • 27 Thanks
    Rosy Apple
    i would ask the solicitor / conveyancer for a statement in writing:
    a) confirming if they get any commission on the sale of indemnity insurance
    b) on what lender's criteria are they acting when compared to the publicly available information from Thames Water explaining when a build over agreement is required
    c) on what information are they basing their judgement that the "patio" does not meet the above requirements, and what qualifications do they have to make such a judgement

    their stance is incredible and you should inform them you will be forwarding the response, along with your complaint, to the Law Society (the solicitor's regulatory body)
    Originally posted by 00ec25
    Thank you for your response.

    The Solicitors sent a letter over the weekend which basically said that as the owner has built over a sewer with no build over permission we have to buy the insurance in order for the Solicitor to give our lender a 'clear certificate' to release funds.

    I guess the issue is that the build over document from Thames Water doesn't even mention patios. It is only when you ring (and don't mention the specific house) that they say unless the foundations are 1m deep then it isn't needed.

    EDITED- I used your points above to email my Solicitor and they have said they will look into this and come back in the next couple of days. I will keep you all updated.

    Thank you again for your help.
    Last edited by Rosy Apple; 22-05-2017 at 4:48 PM.
    • Rosy Apple
    • By Rosy Apple 25th May 17, 9:37 AM
    • 137 Posts
    • 27 Thanks
    Rosy Apple
    Update:

    We received a letter from our Solicitor which essentially asked us to sign that we were not going to buy the insurance, that we had taken advice from our Surveyor, that we placed no liability on the Solicitors and that they could inform the lender that we were not buying the insurance to seek their approval.

    Whilst I am ok with the first few bits, I am not happy with them talking to the Lender. I still can't understand why they need to be informed (and approve) that we aren't buying an unnecessary insurance.

    I have replied to the Solicitor to let them know that we don't feel their letter has answered either of our questions and we would like these answers.
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 25th May 17, 9:43 AM
    • 23,743 Posts
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    Doozergirl
    The questions suggested above are excellent.

    Let's see what they say!
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • Rosy Apple
    • By Rosy Apple 25th May 17, 9:50 AM
    • 137 Posts
    • 27 Thanks
    Rosy Apple
    The questions suggested above are excellent.

    Let's see what they say!
    Originally posted by Doozergirl
    They just ignored the questions above basically and sent me the letter I mention in the post above I have asked them to call me and answer the actual questions.

    Thank you for your advice through this.
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 25th May 17, 10:58 AM
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    Doozergirl
    They just ignored the questions above basically and sent me the letter I mention in the post above I have asked them to call me and answer the actual questions.

    Thank you for your advice through this.
    Originally posted by Rosy Apple
    Escalate it through their complaints procedure.

    The question is fair and you are entitled to an answer.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • Rosy Apple
    • By Rosy Apple 25th May 17, 5:53 PM
    • 137 Posts
    • 27 Thanks
    Rosy Apple
    I am at my wits end with this one.

    The Solicitor just said that they consider a patio to be an extension- they consider anything that bears wait on the sewer to be a build over.

    We have three options:
    - buy the insurance.
    - get Thames Water to write a letter saying Patios don't require build over permission (I'm not entirely sure this would happen, it doesn't feel like it is in their interest to do so). The Solicitor would then consider this.
    - Let the Solicitor report to their lender that we are not buying an insurance they recommended.

    We have also just been told there is an admin fee for putting this insurance in place.

    Who said house buying was easy...
    • EachPenny
    • By EachPenny 25th May 17, 6:19 PM
    • 2,125 Posts
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    EachPenny
    So do they consider the driveway to be an 'extension' too?

    - Let the Solicitor report to their lender that we are not buying an insurance they recommended.
    Originally posted by Rosy Apple
    You shouldn't have to do it, and it may not be feasible, but could you get the solicitor to use a form of wording you both agree on when they report to the lender?

    If they just say you've been advised to purchase insurance but you've refused (or words to that effect) it may be more damaging than something that explains you've been advised the patio was built over the sewer without Thames Water's knowledge, that you've contacted TW to discuss the issue, that TW have told you their consent was not required, and as a result you have declined the solicitor's suggestion of insurance.

    The solicitor would then have the .... covering they seem to want you to pay for, without the lender being unduly spooked.
    Last edited by EachPenny; 25-05-2017 at 6:20 PM. Reason: Typo
    "In the future, everyone will be rich for 15 minutes"
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 25th May 17, 10:23 PM
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    Doozergirl
    You know, I think thames Water might just co-operate. I have found Severn Trent to go the extra mile in the past. I know they're not Londoners, but I have hope for TW. If you can be super nice in asking for their help, perhaps

    Oraybe even building control at the local council might jot a quick note to say that patios aren't considered 'extensions'.

    I'm outraged. You need to get this house purchased and maybe you are bullied into the IP, but I'd go for getting the costs back if you are pushed down that route. It's a complete joke.

    Did you have a separate survey or is it connected to the mortgage?

    You might have explained this before, but I still don't understand how the solicitor decided to flag this.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • Rosy Apple
    • By Rosy Apple 26th May 17, 11:54 AM
    • 137 Posts
    • 27 Thanks
    Rosy Apple
    You know, I think thames Water might just co-operate. I have found Severn Trent to go the extra mile in the past. I know they're not Londoners, but I have hope for TW. If you can be super nice in asking for their help, perhaps

    Oraybe even building control at the local council might jot a quick note to say that patios aren't considered 'extensions'.

    I'm outraged. You need to get this house purchased and maybe you are bullied into the IP, but I'd go for getting the costs back if you are pushed down that route. It's a complete joke.

    Did you have a separate survey or is it connected to the mortgage?

    You might have explained this before, but I still don't understand how the solicitor decided to flag this.
    Originally posted by Doozergirl
    Thank you for your reply, it is really appreciated.

    I think it came up when they did the drainage search and saw there were public sewers through the garden. I believe they then asked the seller for confirmation they haven't been built over and the seller sent pictures of the manhole covers and therefore the patio. Thus, triggering this whole thing.

    On the positive- I think we now have a resolution. The Solicitor called me back first thing this morning (9.15, so I hadn't even had a chance to speak to Thames Water myself) and said they had spoken to TW themselves who had advised that before laying a patio people should contact them to confirm whether that particular patio (due to the weight it will be) would require build over permission or not. I was then given two new options:

    - Vendor sends details of patio to TW and we wait 10 days for them to confirm whether build over permission was needed.
    - We sign to say that there is no liability on the Solicitors should at some point TW decide they need access to our patio and therefore dig it all up and we incur costs to put it right. If we sign this then nothing would be reported to our lender.

    On the basis that we don't even want to keep the patio, we are happy with the second option. Therefore we don't have to buy the insurance and nothing is going to be reported to our lender.

    Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to comment and advise on this, I truly appreciate it.
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 26th May 17, 12:19 PM
    • 23,743 Posts
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    Doozergirl
    Oh my! I'm glad it's sorted out. Enjoy removing the patio!
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • EachPenny
    • By EachPenny 26th May 17, 12:48 PM
    • 2,125 Posts
    • 3,120 Thanks
    EachPenny
    Oh my! I'm glad it's sorted out. Enjoy removing the patio!
    Originally posted by Doozergirl
    Echoed

    Just make sure when removing the patio the sewer doesn't get damaged. A pickaxe hole in a sewer pipe can be a very expensive thing to put right!
    "In the future, everyone will be rich for 15 minutes"
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