Edinburgh tram contractors want into residents' homes
RESIDENTS on the route of the tram extension were shocked to receive a letter on behalf of the project's contractors demanding access to their homes to carry out property checks.
They say the move implies the buildings are in danger and are asking whether they need to tell their insurance companies and risk an increase in their premiums.
The letter was sent by engineering consultants Dougall Baillie Associates, acting for tram contractors Farrans, and said they had been instructed by their clients to contact residents "to arrange a suitable date to carry out a short dilapidation survey of the rooms fronting the street in which the tram works are proposed".
It gave no explanation of why such a survey was needed or what it involved but went on to suggest possible dates and urge the resident to contact them if this was not suitable.
Home-owner Rhona Alcorn, who lives in Constitution Street, said: "This letter arrived quite out of the blue and it really took me aback.
"There's no suggestion in the letter that there's any choice in the matter - it implies this is going to happen and it's only through me contacting them repeatedly to say 'What is this about?' that I discovered this is entirely optional.
"And it took three emails for them to confess the purpose of this is provide a baseline condition report to protect the construction company in the event any of the property owners along the route claim there is damage to their house."
She said the trams were due to pass within about 12 feet of her house but it had never occurred the building could be damaged during the construction work.
"I don't whether I should let my insurance company know - I'm nervous it will put the premium up because they're always looking for some excuse.
"I'm also concerned if I don't let them in I might be missing out on something that might offer protection further down the road."
She said she would have expected the council, which is behind the tram project, to inform her about the position.
"Surely it is the duty of the council to tell me directly that the proposed tram works may cause structural damage to my home, to ensure that I am properly consulted about the risk assessment process, to tell me about my rights and obligations in this matter, and to advise me on how best to protect my interests. As far as I am aware the council has done none of these things."
A spokeswoman said: “We’ve made good progress with contractors in recent months, developing design, construction programme and stakeholder management arrangements. Unfortunately this letter has fallen short of what is expected of our contractors and they have acknowledged this.
“The purpose of the surveys is to record the existing structural condition of properties prior to the work getting underway and, while we do not envisage any damage to properties resulting from the construction works, it is normal industry practice for any project of this nature that a means of identifying any issues is in place.
“We hope residents and businesses will agree to this request and we will continue to engage as we finalise our plans for construction.”
It is planned that all properties facing directly on to the work site will be subject to an external inspection by high-definition video, but for the 111 listed buildings along the route the council said it was important to carry out internal examinations.
The council said the survey involved photographs of the internal structure, measurements and note-taking of all the details that are necessary to ensure a robust survey of the building structure. Homeowners are entitled to be given the information on their property.