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Huge issue with building regulations + manhole covers. Please help

Discussion in 'Building Regulations and Planning Permission' started by Clare_88, 11 Oct 2020.

  1. Clare_88

    Clare_88

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    I saw a post on here a few days ago which sort of mirrored what I am going through but my situation is much worse and I don’t know where to turn.

    This started in 2014 when I bought an orangery from a well know and reputable company.

    At the time we were advised that we had planning permission / permitted development rights as the orangery was only 3 metres from the property and 4 metres wide.

    I was advised that as this was an orangery it was effectively like a conservatory - an occasional room where the original exterior grade doors had to remain in place as a thermal barrier - and therefore we wouldn’t need building regulations.

    Electrics from the house and central heating to the radiator came as standard.

    However, I have now learned from the LA that due to the percentage ratio of brick walls to glass in the orangery, and the fact the central heating has been extended this should have necessitated building regulations. How could the company not have known this? If they did, should they not have advised me of this?

    It gets worse …

    Outside of our home were 2 manhole covers in close proximity to each other. I was again advised that it would be fine to put the orangery on top as ‘this is what most other homeowners do to avoid unnecessary costs .. and other access points would be available' (where from I don’t know). Yes I was incredibly naive but I took them at their word. They are a long established company with a lot of good reviews.

    I have no access to the manholes now. We have tiles in the orangery which were placed on top of the solid cement floor.

    This problem has come to light because I want a proper roof on the orangery and to take out the external grade doors to make one large room and I have been asked by the LA why building regulations weren’t sought originally for the orangery. They have been understanding and said they can look into doing a regularisation including an inspection which we are grateful for - but as yet, I haven’t mentioned the manhole issue.

    I’m deeply worried about this. I feel like it looks like I’ve been deceiving people and trying to have my cake and eat it but I genuinely thought when spending 15k to have the orangery built everything was being taken care of.

    Now I’m worried that if I do the regularisation the manhole issue will come up? Even if it doesn’t, surely it would come up if I tried to move house?

    I’m reading that I might be able to have a camera go down to check if the pipes are in good condition in the manholes to prove they were never damaged but how would a camera even get down? How do I find where these manholes are? How far down is it from the cement floor to where they would be?

    I know I sound like a crazy person but I’m now living alone and have no idea how to deal with any of this. I don’t want to lose the extension. I doubt the original company would help or would even want to know. I’m under a 10 year guarantee but I guess that’s just for structural fault … Should I not have plans and a completion certificate from them or something? Can I still get hold of this?

    Is there any way to resolve this without knocking the extension down or spending thousands on re-routing manholes? Can I dig down and have manhole accessibility in the house?

    If ANYBODY could help me with any of these points to know the best thing to do I’d be more than grateful. I can’t even sleep with the stress of this.
     
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  3. Londoner2

    Londoner2

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    First of all calm down.

    Your work was done in 2014 thats 6 years ago, your current orangery WILL NOT be bulldozed, as the 4 year limit has passed for any action that the council can take.

    The manhole issue should have been addressed, another manhole should have been built outside the orangery to allow access this, however this is not upto the council to check, its between you and your local water authority.

    You may still fix access by building a manhole outside but it could be a complex job.

    Pretty sure more knowledgably posters will oblige.
     
    Last edited: 11 Oct 2020
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  4. Clare_88

    Clare_88

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    REALLY? Can the water company not take action? And thanks for your reply :)
     
  5. Londoner2

    Londoner2

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    They can on paper but in practice they won't, when i built my extension i needed a Buildover Agreement with Thames water. The existing manhole was sealed and a new small one built outside the extension with their approval. However i know of countless extensions built by people without these agreements and no action was taken.

    However the problem may crop up when you sell up, with no manhole access on your property highlighted in teh survey.
     
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  6. Clare_88

    Clare_88

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    Thanks again for your advice. I’m feeling a bit more reassured at least for the short term! If I did want to sell at some point, what would need to happen then? I don’t have any more space to the sides of the extension. Could the manholes be moved in front of the orangery? I’m sure one of them had a number of pipes coming into it though?
     
  7. Londoner2

    Londoner2

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    Also is the orngey
    A new manhole will need to be built, how i can't say as i dont know the layout of the pipes, you would need to get in a few builders and request quotes. Also see this site to determine who is responsible for the pipes

    https://draindetectives.co.uk/blog/who-is-responsible-for-drains/

    If you sell without a manhole then the purchaser can negotiate the price lower to reflect this or could even pull out.
     
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  8. Londoner2

    Londoner2

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    If i were you i would stop the plan of making it into a large room and sort out the manhole first, then check to see if the orangery has adequate insulation otherwise it could take a long time to heat up.
     
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  9. Clare_88

    Clare_88

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    Can’t believe how messy this could get in the long run. Probably a daft question but is this entirely my responsibility then as I wanted the orangery or should the company have explained the issue / should they have agreed to cover the manholes?
     
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  11. Londoner2

    Londoner2

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    I think a bit of both, whats happened has happened, you just need to concentrate on sorting the manhole, good luck, it should be ok as the manhole is not that big.
     
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  12. Ian H

    Ian H

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    I’d forget the manholes if they have been burried for that long. They will be level with the original ground level and a drain guy could camera from a neighbours manhole to inspect and locate them.
     
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  13. Clare_88

    Clare_88

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    Hi Ian. Thanks for your message. I'm a bit calmer today ... but I'm worried that when the LA come out to do a building inspection (or regularisation as they are calling it), they'll notice the missing manholes and won't let it go? And then the problem will be there when I want to sell as well
     
  14. frutbunn

    frutbunn

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    Have you established if the manhole is in fact a public sewer, do any other properties drain into the manhole?
    If I noticed this on site I would not issue a Reg Cert until its resolved, however you only apply the regs applicable at the time the work was carried out. If the work was carried out pre 2011 then it would not have been classed as a public sewer at that time, it would still require sealed screw down covers, I always accept whatever date is on the form as the commencement date if you get my drift?
     
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  15. Clare_88

    Clare_88

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    I’m hoping to hear back from the water company tomorrow re if it’s a public sewer. The lady I spoke to today said she couldn’t see anything ‘public’ on their map ... there are 2 manholes next to each other but I have no access now and I can’t remember whether anything flowed there from my neighbours ...

    I def get your drift! I contacted the installers today and they said no building regs (at all) were required for the orangery. I didn’t mention what the council have brought up. It was built in Summer 2012 ...

    The person I spoke to though categorically said none would have been required or else they wouldn’t have been able to carry out the work which is what baffles me. She sounded sincere ...
     
  16. Ian H

    Ian H

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    They won’t notice missing manhole. Some houses have them, some houses don’t.
     
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  17. big-all

    big-all

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