What is a Drainage and Water Search and why do I need one?

A drainage and water search is an important search made by your lawyer to obtain information about sewer connections and water supply to a property.  If you are obtaining a mortgage it is usually a requirement of the lender that one is obtained, especially for freehold properties.

These searches are usually made with the company which is responsible for providing water and drainage services in the area where the property is located. Although a seller may be able to confirm that a house is connected to mains supplies, it is better to obtain information from the relevant supply company as they can confirm the details officially and provide a variety of information, including:

  1. how the property is charged for water and wastewater services – either measured (metered) or unmeasured (charged on its former rateable value)
  2. whether the property is connected to a public water supply
  3. whether the property is connected to a public sewer 
  4. whether the property is affected by water mains or public sewers running through it or nearby. If this is the case, the water company can (with reasonable notice) require entry to the land for inspection, repair or replacement and can also restrict any development or extension being built over or near the pipes 

The search result includes plans showing the location of the sewers and water mains which are owned by the drainage and water companies, which are helpful but the plans do not show pipes which are not publicly maintained.

If a search shows that the property does not have mains drainage there should be a sealed tank, septic tank or other private disposal facilities for which discharge consents may be needed. Normally the property owner will be responsible for maintenance of these. If this is the you’re your lawyer will have to make further enquiries, especially if the property drains to a septic tank which is not within the property, or discharges onto neighbouring property.

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