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Easement in the middle of backyard and can't work out what it is for...


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Hello everyone,

 

I am about to buy a house that has a utility easement running right in the middle of the backyard (16' from back fence). I am sure it is not gas (the gas line easement is clearly marked on survey, 10' from back fence), nor is it electricity (there is an aerial line, also marked on the survey and very visible anyway). Can it be the sewer line for the house? The inspector who looked at the house confirmed there is a sewer line running across the yard (we found the cleanout).

We want to dig a pool in the future, and I understand that the sewer line will of course need to be moved and create additional costs. BUT how can i be sure that there is indeed no other utility running there?? What else could possibly be right in the middle of the yard? Cable TV?? I don't want to start work and then find out it is something major... Any ideas?

I attach a photo of the cleanout that sits in the middle of the yard, and a photo of the yard where you can see the white cleanout. The easement runs parallel to the back fence, and stretches out all along the yard at the level of where the cleanout is.

 

Thanks a lot!

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post-14176-0-11167700-1432084442_thumb.j

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There should be a survey of the property - if not one you got in order to get a mortgage, then the one that the seller got when he/she/they bought it.  The easement and who has the rights to it (at least originally) will show up there.

 

The cleanout looks like something that would be on the way from the house's plumbing to the sanitary sewer.

 

And remember, one of the Basic Laws Of Nature is that the longest axis of a proposed swimming pool will also describe the route of the house's sanitary sewer branch to the main.   :ph34r:

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Yes we have a survey, but all it says is "utility easement" and the title search did not give any more details... So we are assuming it is the sewer line. I guess we can't know if there is anything else until we dig! Thank you for the ballpark number egarding relocating the line, good to know that we'll need to add this to the cost of the pool.

 

 

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As Ross alluded to, I would think the title company should be able to tell you to whom the easement was granted.  That will tell you (or at least give you a good idea) what it is for and to whom you could direct a request for a release of the easement.  If you seriously want to build a pool, you'd better be certain that not only are there no utilities running in the easement, but that you will in fact be able to get the easement released.  If you can't get it released, you probably won't be able to get a building permit for a pool. And if you could get a building permit, it would  likely cause you all sorts of heartburn if you ever try to sell the house with a pool built in a utility easement.

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I asked the title company, but they don't have a clue. They searched the title, and all it says is "utility easement". It doesn't say anywhere what kind of easement it is. So we can only guess that it is the sewer line, because that is where it is located. Cannot be electrical or gas as we know where they are and they are located elsewhere.

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If you're in City of Houston you can check their GIMS map to see if it's water, sanitary or storm.  http://www.gims.houstontx.gov/

 

If you're in a Municipal Utility District, ask the Operator (usually the same person you pay your water bill to).  They would know.

 

Either way, if it's a sanitary sewer in an easement, that's an indication it's a public line, not just the service line to your house.  You don't need an easement on your own property for your own sewer service, which is why I suspect it's serving someone (or many someones) outside of your lot.  Getting a public line relocated could be a big problem...

 

I'd start with the COH GIMS site, or contact the MUD Operator ASAP.

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I have more info. I managed to get hold of the original survey from the builder. It says "16' utility easement F.C. No.349085 H.C.M.R.". No idea what it means but there must be a clue in those letters!

Edited by MayHouston
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If you're in City of Houston you can check their GIMS map to see if it's water, sanitary or storm.  http://www.gims.houstontx.gov/

 

If you're in a Municipal Utility District, ask the Operator (usually the same person you pay your water bill to).  They would know.

 

Either way, if it's a sanitary sewer in an easement, that's an indication it's a public line, not just the service line to your house.  You don't need an easement on your own property for your own sewer service, which is why I suspect it's serving someone (or many someones) outside of your lot.  Getting a public line relocated could be a big problem...

 

I'd start with the COH GIMS site, or contact the MUD Operator ASAP.

 

Thanks a lot! This was hugely useful and showed that the public sewer line comes into the backyard a bit, and then stops where our cleanout is. So we should be good!

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Just because you have power line poles in the back yard does not mean there are not buried power lines in the backyard.  It appears your house has buried service to the house, which means there are buried lines in the easement for it.  

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