Friday, 13 May 2016

Case for a comprehensive drainage

One of the most frequent questions asked by property buyers is: Do I have to pay for a local search?

The short answer to this is no. But Central London property specialist Plaza Estates explains that although it is possible to buy a property without carrying out a local search, it is certainly not recommended.

The Law Society introduced the CON29DW Drainage & Water Enquiry to provide a standard form of drainage enquiry for use in conveyancing.

As well as the detailed information within the report, the firm of conveyancing solicitors carrying out the search will have access to the water company’s team of experts should any additional information be required.

A drainage and water search should explore all the key drainage and water issues at a residential property. It provides clear guidance to any problems that might arise, according to Garton Jones Westminster Estate Agents, and usually comes with a £5000 liability limit in respect of the standard drainage and water enquiries.

 The search divides information into four categories… 

1 Maps. These show all the water company’s sewer and water assets near a property. But beware. In late 2011, the law was changed so that many privately owned shared drains were adopted by the water companies. Responsibility for maintaining the drains passed from the landowners that used the drains to the water companies. But the scale of the change means some of these pipes may not yet be included in the maps provided by the water companies. 

2 Drainage. This covers whether the property is connected to the sewers, where they are and who owns them. It also identifies whether the sewers are likely to cause any problems in the future. 

3 Water. This will reveal whether the property has a mains connection to the local water supply. This information is important from the legal point of view in order that your conveyancing solicitor can check that the purchase property has the necessary legal rights to connect into the mains across any intervening private land (a form of easement known as ‘rights to water’).

This part of the report will also identify any issues with water pressure, quality and whether there’s a water meter installed. 

Billing. Different water companies have different billing procedures. This part of the report reveals which services your water company will provide, and whether they use a meter to calculate the amount of water use.

Other points covered by a drainage and water search include: 

·     Surface water drainage. The issue of surface water flooding has become more important over the past few years. These range from flood risk if your property is near a river, stream, lake or natural spring to tree preservation orders on mature trees that may be growing within the grounds of the property or on nearby land. 

·         Publicly maintained drains running through the land. This is an important issue and one property buyers should be aware of, says Wimbledon-based estate agent Robert Holmes & Co, because building near some types of pipes without the water company's approval is an offence.

In the London area, a comprehensive drainage and water search should cost around £45 plus VAT to complete in four days, although this cost can rise to around £85 plus VAT for a one-day service.