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Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 26070
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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We have just begun building an extension. In digging the

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We have just begun building an extension. In digging the foundations, the builders have found electricity cables and internet cables, a gas pipe and (they believe there may well be a water pipe) going through our land to provide amenities to houses immediately behind us.Immediately next to our land and next to where we are building, is a driveway with shared accesss. The driveway belongs to one of the three houses behind us - the other two houses have access to their houses via this driveway.Could you advise whether or not these amenities / services should actually normally be routed via this shared driveway and whether it is normal for pipes like this to go through private property when there is a driveway with shared access immediately next to us.Who could we contact to get these moved and who is liable for meeting the cost?THANK YOU!Lisa
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I should add, the neighbour who owns the driveway providing the shared access, is very awkward (doesn't allow one of our trucks to even park on it) and is very unlikely to agree to having these amenities re-routed via his driveway. Is he legally obliged to allow these amenities to lay pipework through his land?

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

May I ask if your house is part of a development of houses or is it a one off house not similar to other surrounding properties?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
It is a detached house but is near identical to the other houses in the close. They were all built to look the same.

Thank you. I suspect it will have been part of a small development of houses from what you say. This doesn't change the legal position of what I am about to say bt the reason I ask is that situations such as the one you describe tend to occur more commonly where one developer has developed a number of houses together on a small large development because of the time of developing the houses, the developer will own all of the land which is to be developed and they tend to run utility conduits along routes which are the cheapest to lay cables where cost is usually proportional to length of cable and pipe.

the best practice is for such cables and conduits to be laid under roads serving properties but economics mean that this doesn't always happen when a developer can save money by laying over a shorter or more expedient distance.

situations such as the one you describe are frustrating at the least and can result in some not insignificant additional costs or at worst can prejudice an build of an extension. However usually they can be dealt with.

it is not always necessary to move the infrastructure conduits in order to construct your extension. It will depend upon how deep your footings are to go and how deep the pipes and cables are laid. It is a particular aggravation that you have found not just one pipe or cable but potentially three different kinds. The reason for this is because the first step before you proceed any further is to contact your local distributor for each service in order to ascertain whether they will require the cable or pipe to be moved or whether they are content for you to build over the pipe or cable with a build over agreement - this is an agreement which provides along the lines that the you will afford acces to the utility provider to your property in the event that they require access to maintenance purposes.

because the at least three different kinds of infrastructure conduit, you will need to contact each utlity provider in turn to agree with them what does or does not need to happen. you can find your local distributor operators using the following link (note this is not the same as the company that supplies your energy bill):

regarding a specific question you are course correct thatthe cables and pipes should ideally not be laid under your garden and should where possible be laid under roads. However there is no legal requirement that this is the case and developers often take literal short cuts so as to enable them to lay conduits over shorter distances and save money. They are required to disclose the location of pipes and cables to the original purchaser. In addition, for subsequent purchases, your conveyancing solicitor should make enquiries as to the root of pipes and cables from the seller but the seller will not always know the exact route of pipes and cables and whether this is the case, your conveyancing solicitor need not make further enquiries unless you instruct him to. It is possible to carry out pipe and cable service as a buyer but these will cost money and so most buyers elect not to instruct such surveys unless they are buying property specifically with development in mind.

Does the above answer all your questions? If it does, I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to click a rating for my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Hi there, thank you for this. This doesn't entirely answer, as because we are building over this land, there will be no where else for these cables to go - unless they are re routed via the neighbours shared access driveway. If he does not agree to this, does it mean we cannot proceed building? Given that his land is the only land that provides the access to the three houses behind, is he not duty bound to allow the pipes to be laid there? Also, when you say significant costs, would we be liable to meet these costs even though we are not the recipients of the services provided by the pipes? Are the providers themselves not responsible for meeting the costs? We won't be able to give them access as they will effectively be under the extension.

Oh I see are you building over the entire width of your property so the cables cannot be moved to run under a different route on your property? IF that is the case forgive me I did not appreciate this. Could you kindly confirm?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
sorry, that is the case. We are building over the land. There is no room for the cables without us having to amend our extension plans and significantly reducing our extension space.

Understood. thank you for clarifying. Now is not the time to jump to that conclusion. First of all pipes and conduits do not always have to be moved and where they do sometime they can be reburied at a deeper depth as a solution. It will depend upon what conduit it is and your building plans. If they do have to be moved then clearly having no other route to reroute them over your property creates an extra challenge. However if one ore more of them does have to be moved, of course you could seek permission from your neighbour to see if he would agree to "host" the cables at the edge of his property boundary or the utility companies have statutory powers to lay cables and pipes under "streets". A street is defined in the legislation as land laid out as a road or path. Depending upon the layout of the immediate area, it may be that these powers to lay cables under streets will proide a solution to reroute over other land eve agasint the landowners permission.

However as above in many cases conduits do not have to be moved and a build over agreement can be reached whereby you can build over conduits subject to any safeguarding that the utility undertaker requires to shield the conduits from damage and provide for future access (e.g. an inspection chamber). You will quickly learn more one you make contact with the relevant local utility undertakers using the above link.

If I can be of further assistance once you know more please do revert back to me. Does the above answer all your questions or is there anything I can clarify or help you with any further?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Thank you, ***** ***** a bit. Our surveyor says you can't build over gas and water, so this will definitely need to be re-routed. I suppose I need to find out whether this shared access driveway constitutes a "street". It doesn't look like the normal road as is gravel and made to look like all of our driveways. Do you know how I can find out whether it is classed as a street? I shall contact each of the companies. Thank you.

Gas mains and water mains you cannot build over normally. Sewage pipes you can and telecoms cables usually too. A street for the purposes of the Gas Act and Water Industry Act is any land laid out as a square, court, drive, alley, highway, road, lane, thoroughfare, or public passage or place. Basically it is anything laid out for the purposes of walking or driving on. A shared driveway which is laid out as a roadway for cars to drive over will be classed as a street for the purposesof the above Acts and as such there will be statutory powers to lay cables.

Can I assist you with anything else on the above?

Joshua and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Perfect. Thank you.

A pleasure. I wish you well but please come back if I can assist further.