Water and Drainage Searches When Buying a Property

12 July 2018

When buying a property, your mortgage provider will require a water and drainage search to be carried out and if you are a cash buyer you will be advised to obtain one. This will confirm the source of the property's water supply, how foul and surface water drain from the property and the location of any nearby drains or sewers as well as other useful information.

Property Searches

When buying a property, your Conveyancer will carry out a number of searches, including Local Authority searches, an environmental search and a water and drainage search (to name but a few). For more information see What Property Searches Do I Need and Why?

Together, these searches aim to uncover any risks, problems or other information about the property that you might not be aware of. This can ensure that you know exactly what you are buying, preventing any issues from arising in the future.

Why Do I Need a Water Search?

The point of a water search (also known as a water and drainage search) is to officially verify:

Whether the property is connected to a publicmains water supply, and if so, who the supplier isWhether the property is connected to a public sewer systemThe location of local water mains and pubic sewers in relation to the property.

This will allow you to establish where the property's water is coming from and who is responsible for both the water supply and the drainage of waste – all extremely important factors when buying a property. After all, it would be a shock to move in and discover that you are not connected to the mains drainage, and instead you have to manage your own sewage and grey water disposal.

Similarly, the water search will confirm whether any water mains or sewers are located on the property itself. This is vital to know, especially if you are planning any kind building works such as repairs, extensions or property developments.

When publicwater pipes or drains are located on the property, the water company has statutory rights of access so can request access to inspect the pipes and drains. It must also consent to any building work over or close to a public sewer so you would need to consult with them about any proposed development before starting any building work. This could be a real hindrance to your plans, so it's best to discover any potential limitations before exchanging contracts. For more information see Exchange and Completion Explained.

What Does a Water Search Involve?

Your Conveyancer will take care of all the property searches on your behalf. With regards to the water and drainage search, your Conveyancer will submit a search application to thelocal water company which contains all the necessary questions about theproperty's water supply,drainage arrangements and the location of public sewers.

Once the water search has been completed, your Conveyancer will share the results with you, highlighting any areas they believe could be problematic. Sometimes there is a solution to the issue. For example, even if the property is not connected to the water mains, the water company may advise that it is possible for a connection to be installed. Other times the nature of the problem may deter you from completing the purchase, prompting you to withdraw your offer.

Will a Water Search Affect My Mortgage?

Most mortgage providers will request that a water and drainage search is carried out, and some may not want to offer you a mortgage until the results of this search have been established. Therefore, not only is a water search a sensible step to take when buying a property, it can be non-negotiable.

If you are buying a property without a mortgage, then you do not necessarily have to undertake a water search as you will not have to satisfy the lender's requirements. Even so, it is recommended that you take every precaution when buying a property. It is a big investment, and you should do all within your power to prevent any problems occurring later down the line.

What if the Property is Not Connected to the Public Water Supply?

Some rural properties which are not close enough to the public water supply system will have their own private water supply obtained from, for example, a borehole, spring or stream. If the property you are buying is connected to a private water supply then your conveyancer should request a risk assessment report to check the installation, whether the water supply is shared with other properties, the water quality and the water pressure. The owner of the property is responsible for maintaining the water supply.

What if the Property is Not Connected to the Public Sewer?

Many rural properties may not be connected to a public sewer but instead connect to septic tanks, cess pools or small sewage treatment plants. Your conveyancer will ensure that the seller provides full details about the system being used, including the annual costs, how often it needs to be emptied, what maintenance has been carried out, how old the system is and its location.

At Co-op Legal Services we can help you find some of the lowest Conveyancing fees available, and all Conveyancing quotes include a No Sale No Fee guarantee.

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