Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Brunswick Road 13 - Yard Work

Penrith, Cumbria. February-2024.

Money Pit II, Season 2, Episode 1.

We had always intended to redo our backyard as the concrete was cracked and anything but level. When we had a picnic out there in warmer weather, the tomatoes would roll off the table and run across the yard.

We were given an extra impetus when we discovered that the previous owner had connected the upstairs bathroom soil pipe into the next door neighbour’s SVP (Soil Vent Pipe) without consultation or permission. He had divided up a bedroom to create a first floor bathroom and rather than dig up the yard to plumb into the existing sewage he ran the soil pipe across the back wall and tee’d into the neighbour’s pipework (the gently sloping pipe in the middle of the picture). The owner next door only discovered this six months after we moved in as he rents the property out. Although it is a very neat and tidy solution, unsurprisingly, he was unhappy about this and keen to have the situation put right.

It took us a while to get round to rectifying the situation as builders are hard to find and we are in Italy half the year - we wanted to be present while the works were being done. Finally we started this year.

First step was to attack the old concrete with a pneumatic drill and break it up. Unfortunately the vibrations shattered next door’s bathroom window. Of course we paid for that to be repaired, fortunately a simple glazing unit replacement. 

Second step was to dig down and find out where the various drains went, and how they all connected up. Having previously lifted the manhole cover in the back alleyway, we knew that the two houses uphill from us all feed in to a communal pipe along the back alleyway, which then turns a corner and runs into our yard, under our house, and out into the street to join up with the mains sewage.

Our builder laid a new pipe from the corner, where you can see the broom handle, under the wheelbarrow in to a new access on the left-hand of the two new small manholes (the raised black tubes), and then turns a corner to join the original Victorian sewer under the right-hand manhole.

Once the new pipework was in place and backfilled, our builder put in a couple of ridges to mark gullys of the intended new surface.

The cement lorry arrived and parked outside our front door but the concrete had to be wheelbarrowed down the alleyway and into our yard by hand.

Next carefully tamped down and smoothed the concrete with a gentle slope towards the drains, as dictated by the gully markers. All looking very smooth and needing a couple of days for the concrete to set.

Once we could access the yard, it gave us an opportunity to jet wash all the green slime off the party wall and give it a fresh coat of paint.

This is the new pipework in place. The illegal T-junction into the neighbour’s pipework has been removed and our soil pipe fed down into the new underground pipe with its own SVP going up the wall.

Finally, we moved all the plant pots and bin store from our neighbours’ gardens back into the yard.

We were then able to let the neighbour know that his concerns have been addressed.

Now we are ready for Series 2, Episode 2 - The Living Room...

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