Who Fixes Sidewalks After Water or Sewer Repairs?
December 6, 2019

Repairing water mains and sewers almost always involve digging, often through concrete streets or sidewalks. So, who is responsible for repairing removed or damaged concrete as a result of a water main and sewer repairs? When faced with these expensive and inconvenient repairs, homeowners may worry the plumber who dug a big hole under the sidewalk or street won’t come back to fix the concrete. Luckily for property owners, it’s not easy for a DOT (Department of Transportation) bonded, NYC Licensed Master Plumber to disappear before they complete the job. Once a licensed plumber obtains a DOT permit for the water main or sewer repair, they are responsible for the restoration for the next three years. Of the many sewer line replacement companies available, be sure to hire a responsible Master Plumber who will ensure the city issues a permit before any work begins!

However, there are a few scenarios where the three-year rule may not apply, including:

  1. The installation is for a new building where construction disrupts existing concrete. If the GC is working under a restoration plan that requires restoring the entire frontage of the building, the plumber should leave the property safe with temporary asphalt. This will remain until the GC restores all the concrete involved in the project.
  2. Another utility contractor had excavated the same area and is planning on entering the same hole after your plumber has finished work. The rule of thumb under DOT regulations is the last contractor in the excavation will be responsible for the final restoration. If there is any debate or confusion over this, it is usually in the best interest of the plumber to go ahead and complete the concrete repair. This will help them avoid any potential DOT violations for incomplete restoration.
  3. The broken sewer or water main had completely washed out all the earth below the sidewalk. If this is the case, it may not necessarily be the plumber’s responsibility to restore the entire sidewalk. Something like this would require an onsite DOT meeting with the plumber to determine who is responsible for what.
  4. The property owner’s insurance company completes the water or sewer repair. It’s possible that the coverage excludes the cost of concrete restoration. Therefore, always check with your insurance company before the project begins to know what to expect and plan for additional costs.

How do you know the plumber will complete restoration up to DOT standards?

Luckily for property owners throughout NYC, the DOT has hundreds of field inspectors reviewing the sidewalks and roadways in each borough. If there is an issue with concrete restoration, the plumber who performed the work will receive a C.A.R (corrective action notice). This will require them to obtain a permit and correct the issue within 14 days.

When the inspector completes the re-inspection of the new repair, they refer to the initial C.A.R. If any issues still exist, the plumber will receive another C.A.R. as well as a violation, depending on the severity of the issue.

It is always in the plumber’s best interest to correct the issue and avoid a summons. The cost of a summons is likely more than the required repair. If the plumber receives a violation, they are responsible for repairing the initial issue and the cost of the summons.

With all these possible complications, don’t choose just any of the many sewer line replacement companies out there. It is essential to hire an experienced, bonded, NYC licensed Master Plumber to handle water main and sewer installations, repairs, and associated concrete restoration.