Do you have a public sewer on your property? Whether you are buying a new property or looking to extend your house, if there is a public sewer, you may need a build over agreement. Find out if you need a build over agreement and what to consider if you are thinking of buying a house without one.

What is a Build Over Agreement?

In October 2011, most of the previously private sewers and drains were transferred into public ownership to be maintained and repaired by Water Authorities.

A build over agreement is approval from a Water Authority for works that you are planning to carry out over or near to a public sewer. It is important that this is in place if you plan to build on or within three metres of a public sewer. This will ensure that sufficient access is maintained to the sewer so it can be repaired, if required. It also gives assurances to anyone that is going to purchase your property in the future.

This is also the case for manholes. Previously, the Water Authority may have given their authority by way of build over agreement to allow manholes to remain within an extension or similar. It is now a requirement that the manhole is removed and piped through manholes should be reconstructed outside of any extension due to potential flooding and odour. If an application for an internal manhole is submitted, it will be refused.

A build over may be required for new foundations, underpinning, piling or basements as well as extensions and conservatories.

How do you know if you have a Public Sewer within your Boundary?

When you purchase your property you should have been provided with a water and drainage search. This search will show whether there are any public sewers within the boundaries of the property.

What is the Benefit of having a Build Over Agreement in Place?

A Water Authority has a statutory right to enter onto property to access a sewer and even damage or demolish the structure which is over the sewer. There is also no obligation on a Water Authority to repair or pay for any damage caused. If a build over agreement was in place, then this could not happen, and any damage caused would require the Water Authority to make the necessary repairs.

What if a Property does not have a Build Over Agreement?

The most time efficient and cheapest way to deal with a property that is being purchased without a build over agreement would be to have an indemnity policy put in place at the seller’s cost. This would need to be approved by any buyer’s lender. Indemnity is only available if the Water Authority is not aware of the lack of build over agreement.

If you are considering getting a build over agreement for your property, do not hesitate to contact us for advice. Our expert solicitors would be happy to assist you. Alternatively, read our blog if you have a Septic Tank on your property, for all the latest advice and information.  

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