The 4 Common Pitfalls with Access Roads

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The 4 Common Pitfalls with Access Roads

Post by ourtoscana on Sun Aug 04, 2013 5:56 pm

Here are a few tips and guidelines that I want to share with you based on hundreds of property surveys that I’ve conducted over the years. When viewing a property, there is a natural temptation to focus on the house and a tendency to ignore the other surrounding aspects. Here are the 4 common pitfalls that I often encounter when dealing with access roads:

1. Rights of way
Most people think that ancient looking access roads leading into the property should present no issues. This assumption may get you into serious trouble and cost a lot of money to rectify! Land maps always need to be consulted to carefully trace every square inch of road from the point you come off a public road to the house you wish to buy. If there appears to be any deviation from the road indicated on the land map, then get it checked! If the road runs over a neighbouring parcel, then make sure that there is a formal servitude agreement in place or proof that it is there for a sufficient amount of years (aerial photographs etc). Most vendors will tell you that there are “no problems”. In that case, get them to provide all the back-up documentation before you commit. Also keep an eye on the width of the road. If the land map shows no more than a mule track and you drive down a 3m wide road, then the chances are, you are encroaching on neighbouring parcels. A handshake agreement between two farmers say 10 years ago will simply not suffice so watch out as you are often looked upon as “THE RICH FOREIGNER” who will easily part with 10,000euro!!

2. Slippages & Land Slides
Many sought after properties are located on hills or even mountains that enjoy magnificent views. To get there, it is not uncommon to see roads cut into the sides of mountains. Try to keep a close eye on what’s going on below the road. There is often lots of undergrowth that will hide old slippages or retaining structures. If a segment of road slips away after a very wet winter, this may cost you thousands and thousands of euro to repair. Above the road, look for signs of instability. Such tell-tale signs would be large indented segments, leaning trees or poles. If the land above the road belongs to somebody else, then you’ll have the headache of neighbours to contend with!

3. Annual Maintenance
It is essential to control the surface water runoff. The trickiest segments of road to deal with are generally the areas with a rapid fall. Uncontrolled water will quickly gouge the surface of a white road, making it inaccessible and may even lead to serious slippages. The road always needs a good 3 to 4% camber to the inner side and water needs to be channeled into a open gulley. This gulley needs to discharge at regular intervals. For routine maintenance, a 400m road will require an excavator for a full day and a few load of fine aggregate. This would tend to cost about 800euro to 1000euro so be prepared to pay this sort of money every other year.

4. Buried Services and Utilities
Should you require a new water or electrical meter following a renovation or new build, the utility company will ask you to locate the meter housing off a public road. Running a cables or water mains down a 400m access road can be a costly exercise (approx 11,000euro) so make sure that the vendor has addressed this problem before you commit or at least make it part of an negotiation.

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Re: The 4 Common Pitfalls with Access Roads

Post by stevegwmonkseaton on Sun Aug 04, 2013 6:43 pm

What a superb post!

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Re: The 4 Common Pitfalls with Access Roads

Post by Gala Placidia on Sun Aug 04, 2013 7:00 pm

Great information for anyone intending to buy a property!
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Re: The 4 Common Pitfalls with Access Roads

Post by ghiro on Sun Aug 04, 2013 9:31 pm

Excellent.  Thank you ourtoscana.

Since having bought our property in 2006:
1) We discovered there was a 'strada communale' which ran just outside our front door! Sad   It took us a few years, and a largish number of €s, to persuade the commune to agree to replace the existing 'virtual' road with another that skirted around our land away from the house.
2) We have had 4 major frane which have blocked the direct road to our house.  Luckily there is an alternative route over the hill behind us into a neighbouring valley - but a 5 minute trip then takes 30 minutes more (each way!).
3) We paid exactly €11000 to have mains water (+ meter) connected to our house.  As the sales particulars specified that property 'had mains water' when we bought it we agreed (after a long and difficult negotiation) to split the additional cost with the (aged, and perhaps confused) vendors.
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Re: The 4 Common Pitfalls with Access Roads

Post by Carciofo on Sun Aug 04, 2013 9:41 pm

Now you tell me!Laughing

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Re: The 4 Common Pitfalls with Access Roads

Post by Flip on Mon Aug 05, 2013 9:58 am

Great post ourtoscana. It still amazes me how many people buy a house without looking at long term logistics of access to property; what if a frana closes the road; can Emergency Vehicles get to the house; how does one get materials to the property etc. Estate Agents will often 'omit' to point out these points as it could well jeopardise a sale and also how do Utilities serve the property; it is no laughing matter faced with huge bills to supply services after you have purchased.
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Re: The 4 Common Pitfalls with Access Roads

Post by stevegwmonkseaton on Mon Aug 05, 2013 10:23 am

Yes, perhaps utilities could be another great post. Of course there are alternatives to mains utilities, but they are also sometimes not available or very expensive e.g. bore holes...

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Re: The 4 Common Pitfalls with Access Roads

Post by ourtoscana on Mon Aug 05, 2013 10:45 am

I'm glad you found the post useful.

I was also going to write a new topic decicated to utilities with problems, prices that I am constantly encountering

Ghiro  .... when you come out the other side of these problems you certainly become much more savvy!!

Flip ... Bagni di Lucca is particulary prone to land slides as you may have noticed. Your point on Emergency services is a very valid one indeed.

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Re: The 4 Common Pitfalls with Access Roads

Post by Gala Placidia on Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:06 am

I must say that there are plenty of areas in Italy prone to landslides and floods and Web sites that can help identify those. Here is one:
http://geomorphology.irpi.cnr.it/publications/repository/public/maps/AVI-map.jpg/view
 As for Bagni di Lucca, it all depends where you buy, we are perfectly safe where we are, on the other hand, just accross the river from us, at Palmaia, they had a problem a couple of years ago. I actually watched the landslide and it was not a pretty sight!
The problem is that most agents will not point out these problems to potential buyers, as Flip says. My advice would be to engage the services of an independent qualified professional BEFORE buying. What you spend on these services will result in savings, as to fix those problems (if they can be fixed) cost lots of money. Just in Aspirin, you will save heaps!!!Twisted Evil


Last edited by Gala Placidia on Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:10 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : additions)
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Re: The 4 Common Pitfalls with Access Roads

Post by ourtoscana on Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:19 am

Thanks fro that Gala P.

I guess the situation has become much more critical recently where 3 of the last 5 winters have broken all sorts of records for adverse weather conditions. If we take this and combine it with abandoned hillside forests we have a recipe for disaster.

It would cost some Comunes an awful lot less to pay 20,000euro to say 50 farmers rather than spend millions on trying to cage in entire hillsides after the event has happened.

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Re: The 4 Common Pitfalls with Access Roads

Post by Gala Placidia on Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:37 am

As you rightly said, prevention will be more effective and less expensive than trying to fix a disaster. The main problem is that most councils are struggling for funds and the loss of revenue through the abolition of taxes for "prima casa" and a reduction in the number of building permits -to name two of the major culprits- has a lot to do with it. And yes, weather conditions have not helped at all. This brings us back to the main topic. Potential buyers must be aware that professional advice is available and that it will always be money well spent.
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Re: The 4 Common Pitfalls with Access Roads

Post by Carciofo on Tue Aug 06, 2013 10:11 pm

I'm starting to buy lottery tickets, not so that we can be fabulously rich but so that, when the next frana blocks access to our house, we can say to the comune that we'll fund the repair work provided they do it NOW!

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