Public combined sewer running under living room (1905 house) and no build over agreement

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Hi all

So, I'm nearly at the point of exchange on the house I'm buying. There's been a lot of bumps along the way - damp surveys, structural engineer checks etc. and now I've just received the final report from the solicitors and it mentions that there's a public sewer running under the house but that there's no build over agreement for it. The seller's solicitor is unwilling to pay for indemnity insurance either so I'd have to cover that if I choose to go ahead.

My concerns are...
1. If I get the indemnity insurance I believe it becomes null & void should the council or water company ever find out that there's no build over agreement? So I'm assuming then all repairs etc. would be on me to pay up for

2. The pipe runs right under the side of the house (assuming also alongside the neighbour's) and its the pipe that runs the sewage from all the houses down under the road (everyone else's pipes are across their garden)

3. If it were to crack/burst then I believe I'd have a major problem on my hands with potential sewage flooding my house/garden - is that right?

4. This could be a huge re-sale issue (the buyers before me dropped out at this stage and I'm wondering if this is why)

My solicitor has said "It is not uncommon for properties to be built over or within 3 metres of a sewer and there be no build over agreement, most lenders are happy to proceed with an indemnity instead of the build over agreement. As the property was originally constructed over the sewer it’s likely the developer would have taken this into account and the water company would have been made aware at the time. I would strongly suggest speaking to the water authority to see generally what their stance is in relation to drains under properties and how they go about accessing these if the property has been built over one." (I am awaiting a reply from the water company)

The issue is that I don't know where the access to the pipe is, whether its under the house or not. The surveyor said they could only get limited access via an inspection chamber in the back garden and that most of the drainage system is hidden from view. Would the water company be able to access via that inspection chamber should they need to do any work? I assume not.

Thanks in advance!
 
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I dont know what happened in the past but building control these days check against their maps to see if any proposed build goes over a public sewer

Lots of extensions get built without build over agreements -although these are often adopted public sewers when the rules changed in 2011

But a whole house built over a sewer -seems surprising nothing was spotted at the time


One thing to note is if you dont resolve the problem you will face the same issue when you sell + it could stop any extension you may wish to do

Water companies vary in how helpful they might be -I would wait and see what they say
 
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The indemnity insurance will never insure you against repairs anyway. It is only insurance against an authority taking action against you for unauthorised constructions, and any construction that has been around long enough for potential action to have timed out, cannot be actioned anyway. The indemnity is probably useless.
 
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final report from the solicitors and it mentions that there's a public sewer running under the house but that there's no build over agreement for it.
What sort of numpty solicitors are you using?

1905? There were no such things as build over agreements over a century ago. :rolleyes:

Your concerns are unfounded.
 
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What sort of numpty solicitors are you using?

1905? There were no such things as build over agreements over a century ago. :rolleyes:

Your concerns are unfounded.
I believe that buildover agreements definitely existed for public sewers in 1905 but not for private ones.
 
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The indemnity insurance will never insure you against repairs anyway. It is only insurance against an authority taking action against you for unauthorised constructions, and any construction that has been around long enough for potential action to have timed out, cannot be actioned anyway. The indemnity is probably useless.
This one would but only if no water company or Local Authority ever found out about the lack of buildover agreement. Still feels risky though.
 
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Might be better to let the property go to someone who isn't going to worry about things that haven't presented as a problem in over 100 years.
 
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I believe that buildover agreements definitely existed for public sewers in 1905 but not for private ones.
No they are a more modern thing - sometime after privatisation of the water boards.

Local councils used to deal with building over sewers and drains under the Building Act, and permission (from a company that did not even exist yet) to build over was not specifically required
 
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Might be better to let the property go to someone who isn't going to worry about things that haven't presented as a problem in over 100 years.
Why does it offend you so much that I'm being sensible and looking into something that my solicitor's report flagged as a risk? I'm a solo house buyer, I'd be an idiot not to look into these things. All I'm doing is asking questions to find out whether or not there actually is a risk with both damage to the property but also impact on re-sale (given that the people before me also pulled out at this stage). I'm not really sure why that's of such concern to you but it seems you may want to find other things to do with your time other than sitting behind a computer contributing useless comments to forums. What a sad way to spend your day.
 
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But a whole house built over a sewer -seems surprising nothing was spotted at the time


One thing to note is if you dont resolve the problem you will face the same issue when you sell + it could stop any extension you may wish to do
My mate bought an old house back in about 1990. When he moved in, we found a drain cover under the Lino in the kitchen. The kitchen was an extension kitchen. We lifted it up and there was about a 6 foot drop into a fast flowing sewer - under the kitchen! It must have been 5 or 6 feet wide too. We replaced the cover and he built a false floor on some 2"x 2” battens. As far as I know, he had no trouble buying or selling.
 
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I think actually executing people might be a tad excessive, perhaps if their genitals were stamped on would be more appropriate?
 
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Very common situation in conveyancing. Standard solution is a build over sewer insurance. There are ones that will cover everything. Try CLS Property Insight.

PS, a client of mine bought a substantial city centre property on the fly a few years back which turned out to have a major drain issue. It took nearly a year and a long legal wrangle with Wessex Water to get it resolved, which included a road closure and diversion of one of the major routes into Bristol. The Wessex boss told me it cost them £350k.
 

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