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Urgent! Advice on smashed (sewage) waste pipe in garden

Discussion in 'Building' started by Sprogginz, 28 Feb 2017.

  1. Sprogginz

    Sprogginz

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    I'm having a new patio (block paving), turf and fence installed.
    The builders started today and have removed the existing turf, paving slabs and fence.

    After coming home from work and to my concern, they've smashed and left open the toilet's wate pipe! I'm assuming they're going to repair it tomorrow before continuing laying across the membrane. I won't be able to see them tomorrow as I must work but will call them first thing to find out what happened.

    Img_7056.jpg Img_7071.jpg IMG_7072.JPG

    The reason for creating this thread is to find out if this is something that can easily happen where they might say that it's unavoidable because the old patio wasn't installed properly or something to that effect. Could it mean that I should incur any extra cost myself or is it something that no professional would have done if they knew what they were doing?

    If they say it's because of the way it was designed that caused this, then would that be acceptable or nonsense? I don’t know as I can only take their word for it. On the other hand, they might be very apologetic and tell me not to worry.

    I chose this company because of the reviews on MyBuilder and the guy that came round seemed very professional and wasn't the cheapest, however, the guys that have done the work 'may' be just cheap labour and aren't experienced with the layouts in this country (all but one don't speak any English) so I'm concerned about the quality of the if the main guy is offsite.

    Hopefully you can tell by the photos and would really appreciate the advice!
     
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  3. tomfe

    tomfe

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    They will have know there was a pipe somewhere there. They might have just gone a bit gung ho or the pipe might have been right under/ encased in the concrete so it would not take much to break.
     
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  4. r896neo

    r896neo

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    They have certainly broken the collar and probably cracked the rest bend at the base of the soil stack so will need to replace that.

    It should have been obvious there was a pipe run in there and anyone would have been careful breaking into any concrete. That said the pipe is very shallow by the looks of it and shallow pipes are usually covered in concrete for this reason, to prevent damage, it smacks of inexperience to not indentify the concrete as being a pipe capping.

    If there is a manhole nearby and the pipe depth could have been known by looking into it then I say its their mistake to fix. If there is no manhole and therefore pipe depth unknown it is a little careless but understanable. Either way if I had done it I would fix it for free. But I would have warned you in the quote that the rest bend would most likely need replaced as it may get damaged breaking up the concrete.

    As an overview I would say its their responsibility to fix it but if the pipe level was not obvious from a nearby manhole perhaps you could offer to pay for the fittings and a length of pipe £60ish as a gesture of goodwill.

    That said its appalling that they simple left you to come home and find this and didn't contact you or at least leave a written explanation of the issue.
     
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  5. vinn

    vinn

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    Thats pure ignorance of simple building practice, & common sense precautions.
    Anyone experienced in this work would have forseen the dangers and possible difficulties.
    So far they dont know what they are doing - check the gulley to the left; is it damaged too, is it full of debris?
    Its not as though you had a concrete slab to crack out - you only had flags to lift.
    The haunching around the soil pipe bend should have been sliced away with an angle grinder.

    Its possible that both gulley and soil pipe drains will have to be lowered to keep the surface level of the block paving low - I assume that you have solid floors?
    Is this possibility included in the quote? How far away is your manhole?


    Did the boss give you a section sketch of how the paving would be layered-in in relation to your DPC.

    Have you been left without a WC?
    Any debris in the pipe should be removed before new drainage is laid.

    You should be there in the morning and get things sorted - esp who pays for what.
    Or sack them and quickly get a plumber or builder in to lay new drainage at an appropriate depth.
     
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  6. Sprogginz

    Sprogginz

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    Thanks very much guys, I really appreciate this. I now feel that I'm not totally ignorant about this!

    My gut feeling before this thread was if they're worth their salt then surely they should've known that this could happen, yet at the same time the pipes do seem to be shallow and I can't see a manhole cover in sight!
    I'm wondering if the previous owner had removed it. I've uploaded another picture that my wife took during the day. You can just about see the main sewer pipe running across the garden where there seems to be some sort of outlet, was that where the manhole cover was supposed to be? You can also see another pipe run towards the house but the smashed one isn't visible as it's to the right of the photo.
    Capture2.JPG
    I did tell the one that could speak English that the sewer pipe runs across the property roughly where the end of the new patio will be but didn't know how deep these things are. He seemed surprised because he said he couldn't see a manhole cover.
    Nevertheless, surely the fact that there is a waste pipe running down the wall into the ground would indicate there's some kind of pipe run!?
    I believe if the main guy was onsite (not just a labourer) then he would have prevented this from happening.

    The trouble is, I'm now getting worried about the overall quality of work. Unfortunately I just can't take anytime off these few weeks and I didn't think I needed to.

    Thanks again.
     
  7. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    It is implicit on any excavation work to be mindful of buried services. It is that simple.

    Risk assess, and/or trace is what should be done.

    And if you break it, you fix it. And at no cost

    No need for monster posts. It's very simple.

    But you have employed chancers and cowboys.

    I strongly suspect that lack of English skills is closely tied to lack of landscaping skills. But they are probably cheap.
     
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  8. vinn

    vinn

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    The "main sewer pipe running across the garden" is coming from where, & going to where?
    As it goes to the right does it remain exposed?
    Where it turns 45* there should always be an inspection chamber. Likewise where any connections are made in a drain.

    The upstand you indicate in the garden is on the wrong side of the "main sewer pipe" to be connected to your soil pipe or gulley drains. Why not lift the top/cover & look down it - excavate at its bse to see what connections are (or were) there?

    You should get out and carefully examine the "main sewer" for any recent damage.
    Why has the ground been dug out to such a depth in the last photo?
     
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  9. noseall

    noseall

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    When I asked a groundworks firm what their protocol was regards underground services their response was that the customer is obliged to provide as much information as is feasible or provide a detailed survey of all services at a cost to the customer. If they subsequently hit a pipe or cable that was shown/surveyed then they are responsible.

    No builder knows for sure which way pipes are running unless there is obvious evidence to suggest otherwise. We break and repair pipes frequently - as is true of our current job whereby they are encased in concrete and a right royal pain.

    Yours is an easy repair by comparison.
     
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  11. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    The contractor is always responsible for the site, and must carry out such investigation as necessary to satisfy himself that it is safe to dig. This is in the context of H&S to the workers - see HSG47 from the HSE, or basic working practice - BS8000 - Workmanship on construction sites comes to mind.

    The client is employing an expert, so it's inherent that he should know what to do.

    Under CDM, site surveys would be done or noted as being required in the pre construction planning - and that would be the contractors responsibility.
     
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  12. Sprogginz

    Sprogginz

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    Just to let you know, the main guy came round this morning. He already had another waste pipe with him and didn't moan or make excuses, just said it happens and cheerfully talked about the project. Maybe a bit upset himself and felt his workers made him look like a cowboy!

    Regardless, confidence is restored and he hasn't said anything about the other parts, so I'll just put it down to me being paranoid although it would have been nice if someone just made me aware of the damage and not finding out myself.

    Thanks again for all your help.
     
  13. vinn

    vinn

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    OP,

    I wonder if you would answer the questions I asked above?
    For my curiosity, and for the viewers who are following this thread and will reference it in the future.
     
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  14. noseall

    noseall

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    Correct. But being an expert does not afford you X-ray vision.

    We actually remove pipes then re-instate them if they are hindering the dig. And I admit that it is an expert digger who can 'feel' when a pipe or cable or drain is being pulled by the digger. It all boils down to the fact that the customer must either foot the bill for an expensive survey or take chances with a diligent ground-works crew.
     
  15. noseall

    noseall

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    Can you explain why many architects get underground services wrong so often?
     
  16. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    Lazy, and or stupid.

    I know there are the occasions when the water main comes diagonally across the back garden when logic and all the evidence is that it should come straight under the front path.

    But generally, as you know, where the meters are and where the stop tap is, and where the stack and downpipes are gives an excellent indication as to where the services are and where they lead to.
     
  17. john4703

    john4703

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    I went to a blocked drain on a newish property, maybe a year old at the time. The architect was on site and told me that he could not work it out as his plans clearly showed an inspection chamber but he could not see the cover. I found the cover exactly where he said it would be but his drawings omitted to show the 2m of earth that was on top of the cover. It cost a few pounds to excavate then build the chamber up the ground level.
     
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