Sew – er what’s the issue?
If you are up for an update of a slightly more frustrating nature then this is the one for you. We did want to provide an update though, even though it is regarding an issue we are facing. So what is the issue?
Well if you have been following our regular updates you will know that the final (and reasonably sized) task that is preventing the completion of our eco house is the connection to the sewer.
Why, you are wondering, are we waiting for this still to be connected 6 months after commencing our build…?
That is a very good question and looking back now it is difficult to see where the time went.
We are at the point now that I am able to sit relatively calmly and write about the events (without using too many expletives) as the sheer frustration has given way to resignation that this is one of those things that no matter how hard we try we have no influence or control over.
As annoying as this is I guess we have just resigned to the fact that it will be done when it is done!
The saga begins just into the build when we make contact with the water board (WB) to establish the process for having our sewer connected to the mains in the street.
It was all rather casual initially which was slightly unnerving with them suggesting that it was a relatively straightforward process and that we could handle it ourselves!
We then asked if we could have details of the sewer so could plan for the connection.
To our surprise, or perhaps we shouldn’t have been very surprised at all, there were no records and we were tasked with understanding when there sewer was, depths etc.
So we were effectively given a licence to go and lift the manhole in the road and see for ourselves, which bemused us!
Without the experience in this area we felt that there most certainly would have been certain pitfalls along the way that we won’t have been aware of, had we attempted this ourselves.
We then asked the WB about costs of them commissioning the work so we knew it was carried out in accordance with their requirements.
It had probably taken a month for us to get to this point and the WB then put the job out for tender to their preferred contractors.
Another month passes by and after constant chasing we finally get a quote through from none other than Conway! Just what we wanted; a quote from a multinational company for our small project! And coming in at over £12K
We decided to revisit the option of instructing our own certified contractor and that turned out to be easier said than done!
It took us four potential contractors to find just 2 who would either quote or even show up to look at the job in any more detail.
We had recommendations but the first few people we called did not come back to us, didn’t show up or said the job wasn’t for them.
1st task for our chosen contractor (one seemed a bit more proactive than the other) was to come out and put the CCTV camera down the connecting pipe to measure depth etc. This took another couple of weeks and another couple of ‘no shows’ (where we thought we were back to square one) before they eventually arrived!
When they did show up, no sooner had the camera gone down we hit something – it soon became clear that the sewer had collapsed!
During this phase we had eventually got hold of some sewer plans to realise that our sewer connection was a small ‘off shoot’ of the main sewer running along the main road just down from our site. This small section had never been used and would be used only by us!
Hence why the collapse was not known about. This meant that not only could the CCTV exercise not be completed, the work to connect us to it could not be planned, started or accurately costed.
We now headed back to the WB to look at how this issue could be resolved?!
After more back and forward and numerous attempts to get someone form the WB out to site to take a look we eventually get acknowledgement that there is an issue and that it gets marked as an official job.
When we then try and get an estimated time for resolution we get a quite candid response suggesting that the job is not a priority and will go to the bottom of the pile – which is not good!
Why is it not a priority? Because it is not impacting anyone!
Crazy isn’t it!? We are pre-emptively showing them there is an issue that needs a solution. They have all but admitted that the way to get it resolved would be to connect anyway, send live sewerage down the pipe and when it is then flowing out in the street we would get some focus!
We have obviously not yet taken that step!
The job has been logged and after kicking up a real fuss about the lack of any priority on the job we do now have the name of a manager, who at the time of writing is supposed to come back to us with a date that the job will be carried out. We won’t hold our breath but at least we have someone to hassle until we get an answer.
It definitely seems like a case of shouting loudest and longest so that our job gets prioritized!
So you can see how 6 months passes by, and in hindsight could we have done things faster, got to the root cause sooner? Yes, probably!
We weren’t helped along the way and we could never have foreseen the collapsed sewer issue and the fact we were the only potential users of a small section of sewer.
It has been quite the learning curve and if there is one big issue that we look back on for the project overall, this would be it!
Other jobs have taken longer and been more involved than ever expected but this issue will cause the biggest delay and as a result potentially the biggest overspend against budget!
There you have it, it is still ongoing but hopefully we are getting there…