The importance of a proper drainage and water search when purchasing your new home

When purchasing a house or flat, your solicitor should carry out all the necessary searches, and these are compulsory if you are obtaining a mortgage. One of these is a drainage and water search. In this blog, we explain why carrying out the correct water and drainage search is so important for home buyers.

Without getting the full picture on drainage and water connections and assets, a buyer could be exposed to some substantial and costly risks.

As drainage and water issues are hidden underground, they may not be front of mind for most homebuyers. But the quality of information provided by a drainage and water search can have a real impact on a property's value, title and maintenance costs. Without getting the full picture on drainage and water connections and assets, a buyer could be exposed to some substantial and costly risks.

A drainage and water search should reveal that the property is connected to the water mains as well as confirming that foul and surface water drains to a public sewer. The search should also include a map of the sewers and pipes that run under the property. These need to be considered so that the solicitor can advise whether the buyer would need to apply to the water authority for a licence or build over agreement if they propose extending the property over the sewer or pipes.

Buyers can also experience problems if the search doesn't contain all the proper and relevant information about the connections and drains as they could find themselves having to deal with major disruption and considerable financial outlay to put things. For example, if the property isn't connected to the public or even a private sewer, then it may be reliant on a cesspit or septic tank for its sewerage. This is not ideal for many homeowners given that there is also a maintenance cost involved with both, and the risk of leaking and flooding. If there's an environmental risk, the local authority has the power to force a homeowner to connect their property to the public sewerage system, so the owner can have the double whammy of paying for both the connection and cleaning up the mess.

It is, therefore, vital that the conveyancer uses the appropriate search to identify any such issues. The CON29DW was introduced by the Law Society in 2002 to promote a consistent approach to property-specific drainage and water information. It uses water company data to provide answers to all 23 Law Society-copyrighted questions. Yet not all drainage and water searches on the market answer all of these questions. Information can be inferred from the proximity of pipes or answers may not be provided at all.

The Drainage and Water Searches Network (DWSN) is a membership trade body responsible for compiling complete responses to the CON29DW. It works closely with the Law Society, The Property Ombudsman, UK Finance and other associations to raise standards for home buyers, conveyancers and lenders, and ensure the CON29DW continues to offer this best practice and excellence. When purchasing a property, a buyer should insist that their solicitor or conveyancer commissions a CON29DW instead of a cheaper alternative.

For further information on this topic please contact Ben Portner at [email protected]