Longridge: 01772 783314 | Garstang: 01995 602129 | Lancaster: 01524 581306 
 
Longridge: 01772 783 314 
Garstang: 01995 602 129 
Lancaster: 01524 581 306 
A set of keys and a paper cut-out of a property.
What our local property solicitors know, you may not know, that the water authority have a statutory right to access public sewers. Due to this right, nothing can be built over a sewer unless the water authority gives consent first. This consent is called a “build over agreement” and anyone planning to build within 3 metres of a public sewer is therefore required to obtain permission. 
 
The idea behind this consent is so that the public sewers can still be accessed but also that the works can be assessed so that the weight of any new building can cause the sewer to collapse which could cause structural damage. 
 
This theory is all well and good if you know that there is a sewer crossing the boundaries of the property. If you don’t obtain consent then it is important that you aware that the water authority will have the authority to remove any structure which may block the access and they will not be liable for any damage caused. Most property lawyers are likely to explain that there is machinery now which will usually allow access to the damaged pipe from a difference unobstructed point but there is still the significant risk that they may have to dig up your conservatory for example in order to access a sewer pipe. A build over agreement will protect you from such a risk, as the water authority cannot remove any structure which is authorised by the agreement. 
 
Generally, the rule is that if you are building within 3 metres of a sewer or drain then the building works must be approved by the water company. Before you start such works though it may be worth considering whether you can modify the plans to avoid the sewer or consider if you can divert the sewer. 
 
If you can’t change the plans or the course of the sewer pipes then you will have to apply to the water company each water company has its own process to follow and will charge different fees depending on where the property is based. 
 
So, why do you need a build over agreement to sell your house? 
 
The Buyer’s Solicitors will check the drainage report for the location of any sewers/drains. If any party of the property appears to be within 3 metres of a sewer or drain, then the Buyer’s Solicitors will ask for a copy of the build over agreement. 
What can you do if you did not enter into a Build Over Agreement? 
 
You have two options: 
 
Option 1 – Indemnity Insurance – an indemnity insurance will protect again financial loss incurred as a result of any part of the property having been build over a public sewer without a build over agreement. This is usually the fastest and cheapest option. This route also avoids having to alert the authority to work which they may not agree to. 
 
Option 2 – Retrospective Consent from the Sewerage Company – you can apply to the water authority for their consents to the works however you are not guaranteed that they will give the consent. Before giving consent the water authority may request that you make changes to the property which could be costly. It is also worth noting that you may not be able to obtain indemnity insurance once the water authority have been made aware of the works that have been carried out. 
 
For more information about the conveyancing process contact your local property Solicitors, MG Legal via enquiries@mglegal.co.uk or call 01995 602 129. 
 
MG Legal - Your Local Solicitors 
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