Sometimes the best method of dealing with an obstacle is to think around it. When it comes to property problems and issues with utilities, a little lateral thinking can go a long way.
A Hidden Threat
Peter Knight, Principal Building Surveyor at Knight Morris, in Manchester, knows a thing or two about troubleshooting. As he recounts, “I had a panicked call from a managing agent who was facing an ultimatum from the Water Authority. They had detected a hidden leak somewhere beneath a property and had issued a seven-day notice”.
The tenant had recently fitted the commercial property out and was running a promising customer-focussed business from it. The floors were solid concrete, and the leaking mains pipe was located somewhere beneath them.
“It was a pressurised situation”, Peter explains. “The landlord had the responsibility to fix the leak and needed to take action within seven days or the Water Authority would undertake the work themselves and recharge it”.
The landlord’s commercial tenant was therefore looking at the possibility of serious disruption with the Water Authority’s contractors digging up the concrete floor in order to find the source of the leak.
“My mission is always to minimise disruption for my clients”, Peter says. In this situation it wasn’t looking too promising. The general air of anxiety was being replaced by a feeling of pessimism”.
Rescuing the Property
“As things stood, no one was particularly happy”, Peter remarks. “The landlord and the managing agents felt pressurised and the tenant was facing serious disruption. Even the Water Authority were anticipating going into something where they weren’t sure what they would find”.
Peter inspected the property. He looked at the state of the fittings and assessed the potential scale of the disruption. Then he had an idea.
“All the time the issue had been about detecting and fixing the leak”, he states. “But what if we simply took the leak out of the equation altogether?”
The solution Peter proposed was to simply bypass the leaking concealed mains pipe by diverting the water supply through an extension pipe going up the property wall to run above its suspended ceiling, then down again to meet the mains pipe on the other side.
“Essentially it was an inverted U shape”, Peter points out. “It also meant that the managing agents could opt to use their own contractors, so they had control over both the spend and the work itself”.
In the end everyone had a good outcome. The Water Authority was satisfied with the work and the landlord and tenant were spared any major disruption and expense.
“The lesson here is that you don’t always have to meet obstacles head on,” Peter concludes. “You can get the right result by working around a problem and, in so doing, neutralising it”.
If you are having property problems and need someone who can keep their head when everyone else is losing theirs, please call Knight Morris on 0161 300 3001.