I have a question to help me better understand any obligations and/or legal points on a shared private water main in a mid-terrace property.
My house is an old (c1800) stone cottage which is in the middle of a terrace of 3. When looking at the front elevation, the house to the right is #1, I am #2 and to the left is #3.
All 3 houses are serviced by an old lead water main spur which traverses "private" land from a Thames Water mains point some 200m from my boundary, and which enters house #1 first, then enters into my house (#2) in my kitchen with a stop-cock before providing water to my plumbing. My water main riser is 1/2" lead and continues to be lead (servicing kitchen sink, etc) then surface mounted along my kitchen floor, up the kitchen wall into bed-3, along bed-3 into the bathroom, until it gets to the bath where it becomes std size copper for the rest of the plumbing network (including combi). House #3 is serviced from a "spur" just below my stop-cock in the kitchen which runs, surface-mounted, along: my kitchen floor; up my kitchen wall; through my kitchen ceiling; into my bed-3 (which is above the kitchen); through my Bed-3 wall skirting, and; then into house #3. There is also no means of isolating the supply to #3 at any point within my property.
We are going to have an extension done soon where I will laying a trench, ducting and suitable pipe work ready to introduce a new single dedicated water main service to my property at a point in time in the future, and we have designed a schematic such that the existing pipe work in the kitchen will become redundant and replaced via different routes from the new design when the new main becomes active at a point in time after the extension is completed. This will enable me to shut off the current mains provision very easily. We will also get a new kitchen at some point in the next 5 years or so, and when we do it is our intention to remove all redundant pipe work from our current configuration and connect to the new proposed schematic. However, I have a few concerns that I want to address and wondered if there is any experienced people on here who could advise:
1) I am concerned that there appears to be no means to isolate house #3's mater main in the event of a rupture - this could cause significant flooding and damage if it did. Am I responsible for this pipe even though it's nothing to do with my service? 2) When we come to re-do the kitchen, I do not want to design it around a single surface mounted old lead pipe that is nothing to do with services in my property, let alone the rupture risks. Again, what obligation might I have for this private service to my neighbor @ house #3?
There is no obligation for you to maintain or repair your neighbours water supply. You could if you were mean spirited isolate and discard any section of pipe running within your boundary, even if it does supply another property. It has been done which is why modern by-laws will no longer (except in exceptional circumstances) allow supplies to cross different properties.
Contact your local water authority who will do a free survey and identify the options available. Generally because the supply a) lies across different properties and b) is made of lead, they will be very keen to see new individual supplies laid to each property. Often they will do a considerable amount of the work foc.
If you are doing extensive work to your house it makes sense to fit an upgraded water main from the street using 32mm mdpe pipe as the additional cost would be negligible.
@plumbob: Thanks for the reply. I'm not mean spirited but don't want someone elses pipework in my house so will give them >12 months advacne notice that something has to change.
I did get Thames Water out not so long ago to help me identify the water main location etc. But in your experience, is there a way to approach them that will likely see them offer a connection to the main FOC? :) Otherwise there'll be a cost of digging a suitable trench some 200m across private but "common" land from my boundary line and laying the pipe work. I'll lay the new supply pipe my side and a little beyond the boundary line, that's for sure. But I'd realy like them to go the rest of the way.
I haven't dealt with Thames Water but I can't imagine they are much different to Severn Trent. If in doubt, check their website or give them a generalised call asking for information about their policies towards replacement supplies.
I can't say I deal with renewing supplies on a daily basis, but have had to a number of ties over the years. There never seems to be an issue, I don't recall ever having been charged for any works. Get the guy out and explain the problem. I find they are generally quite approachable and will do whatever they can if your request is genuine. Just keep mentioning the words "shared" and "lead". Your greater problem may be in convincing your neighbour that he needs to spend some money.
Incidentally, Thames Water will only bring the supply to your boundary stop tap the rest of the way is down to you.
Their view of replacement supplies is very different to requesting a new supply. I once had to pay over £1100 to bring the feed a total distance of less than two feet!
Slightly off topic, but I am dealing with a job that has an issue with overhead power lines. I won't bore you with the details, but the guy comes out, takes a brief look at one of the poles, proclaims it is rotten and agrees to do all the work FOC. That is, digging up the footpath for 50 yds and laying new supplies to a row of houses. My customer was terrified as the work was unexpected and could potentially have cost her thousands.
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