Very Frustrated by Issues with Mains Gas Pipe and Renovation Gone Wrong


Postby kippy-ken » Fri Jan 22, 2016 2:27 pm

I don't whether to scream or cry.

We were looking to renovate a maisonette in a Victorian conversion. We were looking to remove a couple of internal walls in the basement to create and open plan area, reverse the staircase and slightly enlarge the the upstairs bathroom, tank a coal cellar making it habitable and creating a small downstairs shower room.

I work in IT and have no experience in building other than a bit of DIY.

We employed a Chartered Surveyor who did design services and came with good recommendations to draw up the plans, deal with planning apps, deal with the tender process, administer the contract etc. We employed a single main contractor who had tendered and the surveyor had worked with on other projects.

The project was to last 16 weeks and we are now at 20 and counting.

A gas pipe was correctly highlighted on the drawings and would need moving as it ran directly across middle of the lower ground floor and restricted head height on the new stairs.

Project started and the initial strip out was completed. This exposed the gas pipe fully and (I now know) showed that it is a gas main, all before my meter, and servicing the other 7 flats in my block.

Work commenced and the gas pipe would need to be moved back a couple of feet to give us the required headroom on the new stairs. Our surveyor correctly noted that Nat Grid would need to move the pipe but stated it wouldn’t delay the contractor who could work around it.

Works continued, beams installed around the pipe, flitch beams installed and new staircase put in, electrics run, ceilings boarded and plastered.

Applications are made to Nat Grid who eventually attend site 18 weeks into the project and state that they can’t just re-route the pipe and if we want to move the pipe then we will need to replace all the pipe work in the building at a cost of £10’s of thousands and take for ever to organise.

I am now left with a near finished property that has a gas pipe running across it and prevents 2m of head height on the stairs so the whole design we have worked to around the stairs is FUBAR. We are now looking at whether we can get a narrow double winder into the hole for the stairs but are restricted by beams, cable runs, finished walls and ceilings that have been installed to our agreed design.

I don’t know who to scream at, or who needs to take responsibility and what I can do to get compensated for the bad advice and wasted money resulting from continuing with a design that was never going to work.

Re-designing and moving the position of beams and walls would work but we would need to rip everything out and start again. Who pays for that? I don't have the budget to!

After the initial strip out (week 3 or 4), at no point did my experienced contractor or surveyor say that this is a mains gas pipe and to move it will not be easy, call a halt to the works until the situation was discussed and the plans changed to accommodate the pipe.

They all seemed happy that it could be easily moved and continued progressing the works.

It was only after Nat Grid attended site that everyone became an expert in gas services not connecting new gas pipe to old, failing pressure tests etc! and started to say it can’t be done and they didn't realise it couldn't be moved.

As I said I work in IT and would appreciate any advice on what I can do? Can I hold the contractor/surveyor responsible and get them to put things right are their cost? Or am I just a victim of being badly advised and have wasted a considerably amount of my limited budget?

Any questions please ask and any advice on what i do now would be greatly appreciated.

Many Thanks,
Ken
kippy-ken
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