Utility easements, they can be very confusing, annoying, and frustrating to homeowners and developers alike. Today I am going to answer three of the main questions that are raised when talking to homeowners about easements on their land.
Can I build on the easement?
The simple answer is no. Utility companies must be able to have access to the pipeline to fix the pipe if necessary (nobody wants a backed-up sewer). For example, if you have built a retaining wall and entertaining area on top of the easement, it means they have to pull the structure up to get to the pipe (they are not going to be happy and you will be charged for the cost of doing this).
However, you are allowed to construct boundary fences over the easement between you and your neighbour. You just need to be very careful where you put the posts.
So, what does that mean for my garden?
This is an answer that is very dependent on your situation, your garden and what you would like in your yard. It also means if you are planning on knocking down an old home and rebuilding or renovating to extend a house you need to think about your outside space and what you can do as much as your inside area. For example, if you really want a pool but you extend your house to the edge of the easement line this might not leave you space for said pool.
What about vegetation?
You can plant some vegetation such as grass, small shrubs and groundcovers over a pipeline or easement. You can plant some species of trees near an easement. However, you need to be very careful what species you plant near these pipes. Most companies have a list of plant species they recommend or don’t recommend near the area. Also note just because it is a palm doesn’t mean it will be ok. Some species of palms can cause issues.
So, what do I do now?
Well, the first port of call would be to make sure you understand exactly what type of easement you have on your land and how wide it is. Then work out your restrictions and go from there. But if you need help to create the garden you want while working with this restriction in your yard give us a call and we can chat through your options.