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  • FIRST POST
    • visidigi
    • By visidigi 12th Feb 18, 6:44 PM
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    visidigi
    Soakaway - Builder driving me insane...
    • #1
    • 12th Feb 18, 6:44 PM
    Soakaway - Builder driving me insane... 12th Feb 18 at 6:44 PM
    So we have a new build from one of the major builders - we've had many many problems with it - over 150 defects since we moved in 16 months ago - safe to say I don't need to be told I shouldn't have bought new build!

    So one of the issues we are still trying to resolve with the builder is the back garden. Its been waterlogged from soft underfoot to saturated and now its coming up through the paving slabs we had fitted (they were free because the build was late!)

    The garden is approx 30m by 20m, within this sits the garage, which results in garden being 'u' shaped round the garage.

    They tried to fit land drains to address the flooding, but the storm drains from the garage are 30cm ABOVE the garden height - in fact the entire garden and those above us drain towards the house itself and there is no drainage within the back garden at all.

    I want them to lower the garage drains, fit land drains from the garden to the lowered garage drains - they thought that was 'excessive'.

    Instead they want to fit a soakaway 0.5m away from the garage and 1m away from the 3 story house foundations - drawing water towards the house. Now the NHBC states a soakaway needs to be 5m away from any building foundation but they sent them a request - and surprise surprise the NHBC said "The NHBC are happy for a soak away to be installed in a garden for a drainage issue if it is within the 5 metre point of the structure".

    I contacted the council who advised they could not advise on developments they are not responsible for and that the building regs didn't apply to a garden but then concluded with "I am confused as to why they would propose a soakaway since this would retain water in the garden, and I agree with you that the proposed soakaway would be far too close to any building. Guidance in Approved Document H (which can be found in full, and for free, on line), indicates that a soakaway should be at least 5m from any property."

    Am I right to stand my ground here? that a soakaway shouldn't be within 5m of a foundation.I am willing to go as far as necessary but would like to see as much information as possible that we aren't being unfair in persisting here.

    Thanks in advance!
Page 1
    • Debbie Savard
    • By Debbie Savard 12th Feb 18, 7:00 PM
    • 244 Posts
    • 212 Thanks
    Debbie Savard
    • #2
    • 12th Feb 18, 7:00 PM
    • #2
    • 12th Feb 18, 7:00 PM
    The soakaway may be pointless if the ground is heavy clay etc. I won't take long to fill and then the water will be coming out the top.

    I'm not sure what you mean by 'storm drains from the garage are 30cm ABOVE the garden height', a picture would help.

    It sounds like you'll need to get water draining to surface water sewers, assuming they're in the new estate. You many need a sump-pump to push water when the soakaway is close to full.
    • Furts
    • By Furts 12th Feb 18, 7:05 PM
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    Furts
    • #3
    • 12th Feb 18, 7:05 PM
    • #3
    • 12th Feb 18, 7:05 PM
    Stand your ground here. Bear in mind the garage is covered by the NHBC Warranty so NHBC are putting their insurers in a dangerous position by adopting this tactic. Basically it is easy for NHBC staff to be coerced into this position, and to an extent the NHBC. This is because they are not picking up the bill, and ultimately they are not funding the risk. If you knew who the re-insurers were and contacted them I suspect it would be a completely different can of worms. This could be your line of attack.

    Equally refusing any remedial works is a risky move on your part - this is bad position to be in. Hence you cannot be seen to be refusing, but you can been seen to be negotiating, or offering alternatives.

    Ultimately you keep adverse publicity through a careful exposure as a future plan.
    • Furts
    • By Furts 12th Feb 18, 7:09 PM
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    Furts
    • #4
    • 12th Feb 18, 7:09 PM
    • #4
    • 12th Feb 18, 7:09 PM
    The soakaway may be pointless if the ground is heavy clay etc. I won't take long to fill and then the water will be coming out the top.

    I'm not sure what you mean by 'storm drains from the garage are 30cm ABOVE the garden height', a picture would help.

    It sounds like you'll need to get water draining to surface water sewers, assuming they're in the new estate. You many need a sump-pump to push water when the soakaway is close to full.
    Originally posted by Debbie Savard
    You should not be taking groundwater into surface water drainage because this is likely to be soil contaminated. Land drainage is just that unless a catchment pit is designed in. But then somebody has the responsibility for cleaning and maintaining this.
    • visidigi
    • By visidigi 12th Feb 18, 7:09 PM
    • 5,681 Posts
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    visidigi
    • #5
    • 12th Feb 18, 7:09 PM
    • #5
    • 12th Feb 18, 7:09 PM
    The soakaway may be pointless if the ground is heavy clay etc. I won't take long to fill and then the water will be coming out the top.

    I'm not sure what you mean by 'storm drains from the garage are 30cm ABOVE the garden height', a picture would help.

    It sounds like you'll need to get water draining to surface water sewers, assuming they're in the new estate. You many need a sump-pump to push water when the soakaway is close to full.
    Originally posted by Debbie Savard
    The drive which meets the garage is 30 CM above the back garden, there is a step up from the garden to the drive.

    The drainage off the garage comes down the front and immediately under the block paves the pipe work does a 90 degree turn and runs under the drive to he surface water manhole out front.
    • visidigi
    • By visidigi 12th Feb 18, 7:17 PM
    • 5,681 Posts
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    visidigi
    • #6
    • 12th Feb 18, 7:17 PM
    • #6
    • 12th Feb 18, 7:17 PM
    You should not be taking groundwater into surface water drainage because this is likely to be soil contaminated. Land drainage is just that unless a catchment pit is designed in. But then somebody has the responsibility for cleaning and maintaining this.
    Originally posted by Furts
    So then if this is true I am stuck in a tricky position as I am not sure what they can do - I guess this water would need to go into sewage drains then? If so thats another issue, as they didn't fit the sewage lines to the back of the property which were on the plans we signed on the dotted line to.

    We haven't refused the solution they have put forward, but we have pushed back because we feel its not the right solution to put a soakaway at the bottom of a garden which slopes towards the house.

    Thanks for your feedback so far, very helpful.
    • Furts
    • By Furts 12th Feb 18, 7:32 PM
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    Furts
    • #7
    • 12th Feb 18, 7:32 PM
    • #7
    • 12th Feb 18, 7:32 PM
    So then if this is true I am stuck in a tricky position as I am not sure what they can do - I guess this water would need to go into sewage drains then? If so thats another issue, as they didn't fit the sewage lines to the back of the property which were on the plans we signed on the dotted line to.

    We haven't refused the solution they have put forward, but we have pushed back because we feel its not the right solution to put a soakaway at the bottom of a garden which slopes towards the house.

    Thanks for your feedback so far, very helpful.
    Originally posted by visidigi
    Being pragmatic, you should not put land drainage water straight into a surface water drainage system. This would be because the surface water system is discharging into a watercourse and the land drainage water will contain soil. OK the system could be designed with a geotextile membrane and a catchpit, but all this would have to be explained for your approval, and being pragmatic, the approval of the authorities.

    A different scenario could be to discharge the land drainage water into the pipe bedding that surrounds the surface water drain. But this is not what one expects on a new build.

    But also be pragmatic- do you want to see stone filled trenches in your garden? If not then the land drainage design should be subject to proper design and consultation with you.

    At some stage you should bite the bullet and name the developer and the approx location where the dubious building has occurred.
    • visidigi
    • By visidigi 12th Feb 18, 7:38 PM
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    visidigi
    • #8
    • 12th Feb 18, 7:38 PM
    • #8
    • 12th Feb 18, 7:38 PM
    Being pragmatic, you should not put land drainage water straight into a surface water drainage system. This would be because the surface water system is discharging into a watercourse and the land drainage water will contain soil. OK the system could be designed with a geotextile membrane and a catchpit, but all this would have to be explained for your approval, and being pragmatic, the approval of the authorities.

    A different scenario could be to discharge the land drainage water into the pipe bedding that surrounds the surface water drain. But this is not what one expects on a new build.

    But also be pragmatic- do you want to see stone filled trenches in your garden? If not then the land drainage design should be subject to proper design and consultation with you.

    At some stage you should bite the bullet and name the developer and the approx location where the dubious building has occurred.
    Originally posted by Furts
    I'll name them and the location when I figure out next steps - but just now i need to see if I fight, and do I fight by myself, legally or through the NHBC, the final one is of course the builders preference.

    The garage guttering connects to the surface pipe which feeds into the balancing pond located out the front of our property. So by that I believe it would be okay to have that drain our garden right?

    I don't mind land drains being fitted to the garden, I just don't want a soakaway anywhere near the house or the garden.
    • missile
    • By missile 12th Feb 18, 8:01 PM
    • 9,248 Posts
    • 4,545 Thanks
    missile
    • #9
    • 12th Feb 18, 8:01 PM
    • #9
    • 12th Feb 18, 8:01 PM
    IMHO an NHBC Certificate is there to protect the builder.

    I had a dispute with my builder and NHBC were on his side. I had to employ my own surveyor to argue the case.
    "A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." ~ Mahatma Gandhi
    Ride hard or stay home
    • Debbie Savard
    • By Debbie Savard 12th Feb 18, 8:07 PM
    • 244 Posts
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    Debbie Savard
    A small soakaway will see you sorted

    • Furts
    • By Furts 12th Feb 18, 8:16 PM
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    Furts
    A small soakaway will see you sorted

    Originally posted by Debbie Savard
    Ho ho, but also being pedantic this is really a SUDS Systems!
    • Furts
    • By Furts 12th Feb 18, 8:28 PM
    • 3,877 Posts
    • 2,466 Thanks
    Furts
    I'll name them and the location when I figure out next steps - but just now i need to see if I fight, and do I fight by myself, legally or through the NHBC, the final one is of course the builders preference.

    The garage guttering connects to the surface pipe which feeds into the balancing pond located out the front of our property. So by that I believe it would be okay to have that drain our garden right?

    I don't mind land drains being fitted to the garden, I just don't want a soakaway anywhere near the house or the garden.
    Originally posted by visidigi
    NHBC are very, very difficult folks to deal with. Think both judge and jury, when the laws are kept in house and not available for outsiders to know if fair play is occurring.

    My intuition is still as my first post. I do not believe NHBC can break their own Technical Standards and this you should challenge. My intuition is also that written in the Standards will be a clause saying homes must comply, and within your warranty likewise. Putting NHBC on the back foot saying they will be in breach of your warranty requirements is a way forward.

    I am confident the clauses will be there - it is just NHBC make matters so obscure, and cloud everything so I will leave this to you. After a ll, only you know which version, of which warranty you have. So only you know the relevant clauses!

    Since you are happy to accept a soakaway the way forward is to say it must be more than 5m and you will co-operate. If this means renewing drainage to a lower level then so be it. This is all quick, cheap work so there should be no reason it is refused. But even if it were to cost £10000 that is not your problem - matters need sorting at the developers expense.
    • visidigi
    • By visidigi 12th Feb 18, 8:43 PM
    • 5,681 Posts
    • 3,551 Thanks
    visidigi
    NHBC are very, very difficult folks to deal with. Think both judge and jury, when the laws are kept in house and not available for outsiders to know if fair play is occurring.

    My intuition is still as my first post. I do not believe NHBC can break their own Technical Standards and this you should challenge. My intuition is also that written in the Standards will be a clause saying homes must comply, and within your warranty likewise. Putting NHBC on the back foot saying they will be in breach of your warranty requirements is a way forward.

    I am confident the clauses will be there - it is just NHBC make matters so obscure, and cloud everything so I will leave this to you. After a ll, only you know which version, of which warranty you have. So only you know the relevant clauses!

    Since you are happy to accept a soakaway the way forward is to say it must be more than 5m and you will co-operate. If this means renewing drainage to a lower level then so be it. This is all quick, cheap work so there should be no reason it is refused. But even if it were to cost £10000 that is not your problem - matters need sorting at the developers expense.
    Originally posted by Furts
    Thanks - I will accept the soakaway,but the problem they have is there is nowhere within my boundaries which is 5m away from a foundation - so they cant do it within their own rules.

    The house was signed for in Jan 2016, moved in Aug/Sept 2016
    • Furts
    • By Furts 12th Feb 18, 8:57 PM
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    • 2,466 Thanks
    Furts
    Thanks - I will accept the soakaway,but the problem they have is there is nowhere within my boundaries which is 5m away from a foundation - so they cant do it within their own rules.

    The house was signed for in Jan 2016, moved in Aug/Sept 2016
    Originally posted by visidigi
    None of us have seen your levels, nor any further details. Which means there is little more one can add. Resolution has to be considered as a future stage - you appear to be heading for a dispute with the builder.

    Professional advice can also be sought. NHBC will not pay for this unless there is a prior agreement and here you have to make a decision. In theory you should have held a contingency for all your problems, because I am guessing you have saved the cost of a full buildings structural survey &/or snagging survey. With hindsight the survey(s) would have been prudent, but as is often said, hindsight is a wonderful thing. However you may be paying less than what you would have paid in Aug 2016.

    If resolution is requested you have to consider your tactics. Professional help will be useful to you but disliked by NHBC.
    • tonyh66
    • By tonyh66 13th Feb 18, 2:39 PM
    • 1,104 Posts
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    tonyh66
    I would be paying a civil engineering consultant specialising in drainage for an hour of his time. A professional opinion and some ideas on a solution would be worth it.
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