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The dreaded pitch fibre -- can't get a quote

Hi
I am trying to buy a house in Torquay and it has pitch fibre (PF) drains, flagged up by the surveyor. I had a video survey taken of the drains and they are distorted. I know insurance companies often exclude PF in their cover. The problem is, I am struggling to get anyone to quote for the work to line or replace the PF drains and the vendors of the house are chasing me because they want to complete and so do my buyers. It's been two weeks now and I've only got one quote, a terrifying 9 grand. I've tried checkatrade, rang and emailed half a dozen local companies found on google and sent them the report of the surveyor, etc, but nobody is getting back to me despite chasing them. What do you have to do to get someone to be interested? Is it always hard to even get a quote in the south west?

Many thanks for reading. 


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  • ThisIsWeird
    ThisIsWeird Posts: 4,458
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    edited 6 February at 7:32AM
    Do these drains go under the building, or can they be accessed from above? Are they private drains - not shared at all?
    Have the vendors indicated how much, if anything, they'd be prepared to contribute towards the work? This is now something they are aware of, and significant enough to have to declare to any other interested parties and buyers.
    Which Co gave the £9k quote - the one that carried out the inspection?
  • Section62
    Section62 Posts: 7,496
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    LE_Bore said:

    ...The problem is, I am struggling to get anyone to quote for the work to line or replace the PF drains and the vendors of the house are chasing me because they want to complete and so do my buyers. It's been two weeks now and I've only got one quote, a terrifying 9 grand. I've tried checkatrade, rang and emailed half a dozen local companies found on google and sent them the report of the surveyor, etc, but nobody is getting back to me despite chasing them. What do you have to do to get someone to be interested? Is it always hard to even get a quote in the south west?

    It will be harder to get people to quote if they know you are in the process of buying the property rather than already owning it.

    Sales often fall through (especially when big bills for major works crop up) and even if you do complete, there is no guarantee you'll decide to get the work done, nor that you'll employ any of the companies providing a quote.  As it costs time/money for someone to provide a quote they may decide it isn't worth quoting on something where the chances of getting the job are so slim.

    But you have one figure already, so you can start a conversation with the vendor about how much of that they are willing to contribute (if any) and whether that means you have to pull out or are still able to proceed.

    Unless the pipes are deep I would suggest you aim to have them replaced rather than lined.  Lining is a good solution on 'hard' pipes like vitrified clay that have cracked and/displaced joints where the primary need is to make the drain root and ground water proof again. But I would be cautious about lining PF where the fundamental issue is with their inability to carry load long-term and thus lose their shape.  The pipe lining companies tend to overstate the difficulty and inconvenience of 'dig' methods of pipe replacement.  In reality it depends on the depth of the pipe and what kind of surface there is whether digging and replacement is that bad an option - and because it isn't such a specialised method, the range of contractors you could use is much wider.
  • ThisIsWeird
    ThisIsWeird Posts: 4,458
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    We've just had our water bill. Hmm, what's this? Ach, only Homeserve offering to warrant our drains and stuff for £1 per month for the first year.
    I ain't bothering as I know our drains are good.
  • Section62
    Section62 Posts: 7,496
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    We've just had our water bill. Hmm, what's this? Ach, only Homeserve offering to warrant our drains and stuff for £1 per month for the first year.
    I ain't bothering as I know our drains are good.
    Do they cover pre-existing problems you knew about before buying the property?

    And would they replace a whole PF installation just because it is PF, with no immediate blockage or leakage issues?

    PF pipes ovaling is a known issue - if the pipe is laid to a decent fall, the flow is reasonable, and people don't flush the wrong kind of stuff, then there is no desperate need to replace the pipes.  If the pipe blocks once then rod it out.  If it blocks regularly and there is no other obvious cause then that might be the time when replacement of the pipes becomes a necessity.

    PF pipes seem to be the new Japanese Knotweed. With a 'spray foam insulation' style solution ready to go.
  • jonnydeppiwish!
    jonnydeppiwish! Posts: 1,107
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    I had approximately 8m pitch fibre replaced in 2019. Cost around £1500 including all the equipment and digger.

    They did managed to break the mains water though that was another easy fix with the blue plastic piping and a push fit underground connection
    2006 LBM £28,000+ in debt.
    2021 mortgage and debt free, working part time and living the dream
  • LE_Bore
    LE_Bore Posts: 83
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    Thisisweird, about 15 years ago I got a free offer of cover on water leaks for 30 days via some other insurance deal. On the very last day, one happened. They did not come to fix it. I gather PF drains are often excluded from insurance cover anyway as the insurance companies know they don't just carry pony, they are pony.

    A short stretch of the drains go under a conservatory. I think they have quite a long run because the main sewer runs under the back of the garden. 

    I had the drains video surveyed by a company that doesn't actually do the work. This has been a mixed blessing. They weren't telling me things are bad to get a job, but other companies have suggested they'd need to charge for their own surveys rather than accept the one we already have. 

    Section62, wouldn't replacement rather than lining be prohibitively expensive? I am old and not planning to live forever -- not with drains like these! Then again I don't want to face the same problem in my dotage. But you are right, it must be a superior method. Are you saying I'd have more of a choice of contractors because any builder could lay a drain while hardly anyone can pipe line? If so, that figures. 

    Many thanks to all.
  • ThisIsWeird
    ThisIsWeird Posts: 4,458
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    Section62 said:
    We've just had our water bill. Hmm, what's this? Ach, only Homeserve offering to warrant our drains and stuff for £1 per month for the first year.
    I ain't bothering as I know our drains are good.
    1) Do they cover pre-existing problems you knew about before buying the property?

    2) And would they replace a whole PF installation just because it is PF, with no immediate blockage or leakage issues?

    1) Of course not.
    2) No, but continual cover might be a better option than forking out £9k - there should be quite a few years of cover there.
  • stuart45
    stuart45 Posts: 3,822
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    The cost of replacing with plastic varies a lot depending on the depth and whether any re-routing is required. 
    However, no specialist equipment is needed, so a builder can do the work.
    Drainage is very labour intensive. Materials are relatively cheap.
    One of my old Tech books has a whole chapter devoted to the method of laying pitch fibre pipes. They were a lot easier to work with than salt glaze.

  • GDB2222
    GDB2222 Posts: 24,330
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    Section62 said:
    We've just had our water bill. Hmm, what's this? Ach, only Homeserve offering to warrant our drains and stuff for £1 per month for the first year.
    I ain't bothering as I know our drains are good.
    1) Do they cover pre-existing problems you knew about before buying the property?

    2) And would they replace a whole PF installation just because it is PF, with no immediate blockage or leakage issues?

    1) Of course not.
    2) No, but continual cover might be a better option than forking out £9k - there should be quite a few years of cover there.
    I think you are being wildly optimistic about what you can expect from insurance generally, and especially for £1 per month. 
    No reliance should be placed on the above! Absolutely none, do you hear?
  • GDB2222
    GDB2222 Posts: 24,330
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    LE_Bore said:
    Thisisweird, about 15 years ago I got a free offer of cover on water leaks for 30 days via some other insurance deal. On the very last day, one happened. They did not come to fix it. I gather PF drains are often excluded from insurance cover anyway as the insurance companies know they don't just carry pony, they are pony.

    A short stretch of the drains go under a conservatory. I think they have quite a long run because the main sewer runs under the back of the garden. 

    I had the drains video surveyed by a company that doesn't actually do the work. This has been a mixed blessing. They weren't telling me things are bad to get a job, but other companies have suggested they'd need to charge for their own surveys rather than accept the one we already have. 

    Section62, wouldn't replacement rather than lining be prohibitively expensive? I am old and not planning to live forever -- not with drains like these! Then again I don't want to face the same problem in my dotage. But you are right, it must be a superior method. Are you saying I'd have more of a choice of contractors because any builder could lay a drain while hardly anyone can pipe line? If so, that figures. 

    Many thanks to all.
    If the drain runs through the back garden that’s possibly quite helpful, as it is easier to dig and make good a trench across the lawn than a driveway. So the long distance may not be such an issue.

    In the meantime, you have a quote for £9k, so get the vendor to reduce the price by a reasonable amount, and crack on with the purchase. 
    No reliance should be placed on the above! Absolutely none, do you hear?
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