Last edited 20 Feb 2021

Main author

OMDI Contractor Website

Specialist drain surveys for homebuyers


[edit] Introduction

Buying a new house can be an exciting time. It is easy to get swept up in the dream of making a house a home and neglect some of the details that could create a problems later. With so much to consider when making such a significant purchase, it’s important to take proper steps to obtain a full understanding of the property.

Most home buyers understand the importance of getting a building survey carried out before moving forward with a purchase - in fact, most mortgage offers are dependent on this. No one wants to have to deal with structural problems with the walls, foundations or roof when they move into a house, so it’s crucial to rule these issues out.

One thing that is thought about less often is the state of the drainage system. This is vitally important to the condition and operation of the property. Blocked drains are notoriously inconvenient, present significant health risks and could cost as much to repair as structural problems.

Dependent on the type of drainage system the property runs on, there may even be a legal obligation to bring a malfunctioning system up to requirements, at significant cost.

[edit] What is your responsibility as a homeowner?

It is important to distinguish between properties that are connected to a main drain and properties which have their own off mains drainage system, for example: a septic tank, cesspit or sewage treatment plant.

If a property is connected to a main drain, the homeowner is generally responsible for the section of pipework within the property boundaries, beyond the property line is the responsibility of the water and sewage company.

If a property has its own off mains drainage system, the homeowner alone is responsible for its maintenance and upkeep. Problems with these types of drainage systems can present significant environmental and public health concerns. Consequently, there is a body of legislation that governs procedures for maintenance. Failure to adhere to the laws pertaining to off mains drainage systems can result in significant fines and prosecution.

[edit] Doesn’t my building survey cover the drainage system?

The primary purpose of a building survey is to ensure the structural and foundational integrity of the house. Building surveyors will briefly examine what else they can see, but may not go into any depth.

Unfortunately, issues with the drainage system may not be immediately apparent and can take months to surface. For this reason, it is generally recommended that home buyers seek the guidance of a specialist. A thorough survey of drains will give a complete assessment and report which will indicate not only the condition of the drainage system, but also which parts of the system are the responsibility of the homeowner.

--OMDI 15:54, 02 Jan 2019 (BST)

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