Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Going Underground

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Going Underground

Article excerpt

Byline: Karen Whitburn

My home has a raised ground floor, with a "semi-basement" cellar below.I have obtained planning permission to dig out the cellar to create a basementplayroom for my children. Works have commenced, and my builder has discoveredsome cables and pipes in the ground. Do these cables belong to me, am Iresponsible for them? I think they could belong to the relevant suppliers,which must repair and maintain them. Am I right? You do not say what sort ofcables and pipes have been discovered. They are likely to be gas andelectricity supplies to your house and perhaps that of your neighbours. Theycould also be drainage and water pipes, and telecoms cables.

Generally, up to the boundary of a property, these are the responsibility ofthe supply companies, known as "statutory undertakers". However, such companiesdo not normally pay for repair and maintenance to pipes and cables on privateland, nor the cost of re-routing. Works on private land need to be carried outsafely, so as not to affect any other parties, and, in most cases, with theagreement of the statutory undertaker.

Ask your solicitor to carry out searches to establish which operators havepipes or cables on your land, as you will need to liaise with the companybefore re-routing or carrying out other works. Your builder or contractorshould be careful not to cut off supply to other parties who may also have thebenefit of them. Common sense dictates they should not be buried in thefoundations of your new basement, nor built over in such a manner as to beinaccessible for maintenance.

My elderly mother is finding it difficult to manage in her house, particularlyas she is having trouble climbing the stairs. I am considering creating aself-contained "granny flat" for her by converting my garage. Can I simply goahead and do the work, or must I get in touch with the local authority first? …

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