2021 With A Very Expensive Bang!
This year, my family got to see 2021 in with a bang when our outside electrical box (where the meter is) literally exploded!
It seems that 2020 wasn't just a bad year for me, but also an expensive one. Not only did I have to repair and replace pipes around the pool caused by tree roots but also damage caused by a damaged electrical cable that blew out the trip switch on the main electrical box. Fireworks weren't on the shopping list for New Year's Eve, but we definitely experienced them when the trip switch blew up and the power went out.
My reason for writing this article is to ensure that you know where your water supply, sewer lines and power cables are located.
I have already posted several times regarding the vegetable garden established in my front garden and how we installed raised beds using treated poles and roof sheeting. What I didn't know at the time was that, when digging the holes for the poles, my gardener also inadvertently dug into the power line, which, in all honesty was not where it was supposed to be, or at least not where it was expected to be.
WHAT IS A SERVITUDE?
Before I look at the damage that was done and the eventual cost to repair, I need to discuss what a Servitude is for those that don't know.
When you purchase a piece of land and build a property, you still need to have services such as water, sewage and electricity supplied to the property. These services are generally put in place by applying a Servitude, or area on your property where the Municipality or Town Council uses a piece of your land for installing such services. Your building plans or title deed should show where the Servitude is located and it is within this predetermined piece of land, known as the Servitude, that water pipes and electrical cables are placed.
If you are buying a property that is not being built, the title deed or plans lodged with the Town Council will indicate where any Servitude/s is/are located. You will find more information about a Servitude on the Private Property website.
WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY CONCERNING A SERVITUDE?
With the understanding that a Servitude/s is/are clearly marked on building plans, you are made away that no construction or other work can be done on a Servitude without permission from the Municipality or Town Council, this applies to mainly works that could cause damage to, be built over, or interrupt service lines.
YOUR RESPONSIBILITY FOR FAULTS OR DISRUPTION OF SERVICES
I know full well that any fault on water lines becomes the owner after the water meter. That means that any leaks, breaks or other faults that occur on my side of the water meter (which is usually on the pavement outside a property) is my responsibility. I didn't, however, realise that this was the case with power lines. From the main power box, usually where the meter is located, anything that happens from that point onward is the homeowners responsibility.
Although I didn't know what the properly was at first, when I called City Power to come out and assess the situation, which they did timeously, considering it was New Year's Eve, they performed a few tests and informed me that the problem was on my side of the power line. Since it was New Year's Eve, I didn't hold out much hope for getting the fault resolved quickly, but was pleasantly surprised when a friend of a friend, an electrician, came to our aid, located the fault and fixed the problem.
It took many hours of digging up the pavement and inside my property to locate the fault but one thing that was obvious and that I didn't know was that the power line was only approximately 30cm deep. Now I'm not one hundred per cent certain, I am sure that water lines, sewer and power lines are supposed to be deeper than that. At that depth it is quite easy for you to hit any of these services with a garden fork or space, and which is what happened in my case.
When digging holes to mount the poles for the raised beds, which were dug to a depth of 30cm, the gardener accidentally hit the power line, although not aware of it at the time thank goodness. Since the poles were put down a few months back, it was only during a recent severe downpour that the fault occurred, with water obviously reaching the broken casing around the power line.
Be careful where you dig unless you are absolutely sure where water, sewer and power lines are located.
The bottom line, don't wait until you create an accident to find out where any Servitude/s is/are located. Even just digging in your garden beds or digging a hole for a plant could be an expensive project.