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Question DetailsAsked on 8/8/2017

Is the homeowner liable for damage to a sewer line by a contractor?

Having my driveway paved and the paving contractor hit my sewer line that runs from the house to the street where the main public line is. He's telling me I'm responsible for the damage because no one could have told him it was there and it was only 3 inches underground.

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Normally, he would be responsible for locating utilities unless contract says you are (though ultimately if he hits the public portion of a utility line the utility can come after you) - here are a couple of previous links on that subject FYI:

In your case - not so clear because assuming he was digging only as deep as the original baseand maybe a bit of subbase (say maybe 3-6 inches below the paving) one would not expect to hit a buried utility there at that shallow a depth.

If a metal line or has a tagger strip/wire along it then it could have been located by a utility locating contractor (or some public utilities will locate to your house, not just the in-street parts) and I would say he is responsible. If an asbestos or clay line would not be located by normal methods anyway, so maybe more on your back.

Your bigger concern - leaving it that deep is an invitation to crushing from driveway loads, especially if asphalt paving, and nowhere near legal depth, so I wouldconsider having it relocated deeper and possibly out from under the drive also if feasible. Of course, you have to maintain certain grades on the line, so deepening or relocation is not always as easy as it seems - sounds like you need a sewer line installation Plumber to advise on that.

If I was being asked to arbitrate this one, this would probably be my call: - if he had utility locates done (or you called and had them done beforehand) and it did not show up on the locates, out of your pocket (or your insurance). If he was responsible for locates and did not get them done, out of his pocket. If locate was done and line DID show up and was marked, he should have hand dug a couple of places to check it was beyond the depth he was affecting, so again I would say out of his pocket (or his insurance).

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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