Are you looking to buy a property with off mains drainage?

If you are planning on buying a property, there are a few things that are advisable to have surveyed prior to the completion of sale. Roof inspections, plumbing surveys, electrical testing and central heating checks are all quite commonplace, but one type of inspection often overlooked is a pre-purchase drain survey.

We recommend that a full drainage survey is carried out prior to purchasing any property but especially properties that don’t have access to a main sewer and use a Septic Tank or Sewage treatment plant discharging into a soak away, drainage field or watercourse.

With prices starting at £400 plus VAT you can guarantee peace of mind and no hidden surprises prior to moving in your dream home. For those properties that have a package sewage treatment plant installed we offer a pre-check to ensure the system is working correctly. Give us a call to arrange your drainage and system check.

What you need to know when buying a property with an off mains septic tank or sewage treatment plant?

Buying a house with off-mains drainage can be a new and often scary experience to some home buyers. This is especially when the thought of raw sewage appearing in your garden or backing up in the house could be a real possibility.

We are regularly asked questions by home buyers prior to purchasing a property with off- mains sewage systems. Here we outline some of the main questions asked or that we advise you ask prior to purchase: –

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    Are there any drawings of the surface water and sewage drainage systems for the property?

    It is wise to check for existing drainage plans for the property as many properties with a Septic Tank have all the roof water, surface water and sewage going to the same tank.

    If surface water or roof water drains go into sewage treatment plant or septic tank then this can cause major issues with the operation of the system diluting down the bacteria required for treatment and where applicable flushing the contents through the system into the Soak away/drainage field. This in turn causes the outlet to become blocked over time and prevents the system discharging, the system will then surcharge back towards the property.

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    What type of off-mains sewage system is it?

    Generally, most properties are installed with a Septic tank or Package Sewage Treatment plant although there are some bespoke brick holding tanks out there.

    A septic tank is just a holding tank that separates solids and effluent liquid, bacteria is limited in these plants which means they no longer meet the general binding rules for discharge to a water course. Most Septic tanks don’t have power connected unless the outlet has a pump used to move the effluent to a higher point of discharge such as a clinker bed or mound soak away.

    There are many different types of package sewage treatment plant but the principle of all is the same. Oxygen is artificially introduced into the tank via a compressor or by rotating the media pack, this pack is unique to a sewage treatment plant and varies depending on manufacturer and provides the bacteria somewhere to live.

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    Has the system been maintained as per manufacturer’s guidelines and emptied at regular intervals?

    Ask for service reports and waste transfer notes for tanker/empty schedules.

    All Septic Tanks and sewage treatment plants need to be regularly maintained to ensure the correct operation, manufacturers insist that the product is maintained regularly to validate any warranty, the environment agency will also ask for any records if the system is discharging to a water course and a pollution problem occurs in that watercourse.

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    Does the septic tank/Sewage treatment plant comply with the current new 2020 Regulations?

    If the property has a Septic Tank discharging into any type of water course then unfortunately this unit would need to be replaced with a new package sewage treatment plant.

    Septic Tanks discharging into a soak away or drainage field and contained within the property boundary do meet the general binding rules and are acceptable although it is worth checking the operation and get it signed off.

    Sewage treatment plants that discharge straight into a flowing watercourse are ok and meet current regulations. You will still require to maintain this unit as per manufacturer’s guidelines as per current regulations.

    Sewage treatment plants that discharge directly into a seasonal ditch are not permitted. To discharge your sewage treatment plant into a seasonal ditch you will be required to install a seasonal soak away. A seasonal ditch is one that doesn’t contain flowing water all year round.

    A seasonal soak away is a short section of perforated outlet pipework installed prior to the ditch, during dry weather the treatment plant effluent will pass through this pipework into the ground allowing it to be filtered prior to entering the watercourse, when the weather changes it is assumed that the ditch will then contain rain/ground water as the natural water table rises, this may also prevent the seasonal soak away pipe from discharging into the ground and therefore it passes safely into the water filled ditch.

    If you have no options to discharge your sewage treatment plant into a seasonal ditch, running stream or your ground fails a percolation test then we can offer an option of installing an above ground soak away filter bespoke to your property on your land.

If we haven’t provided the answers you are looking for feel free to contact us, alternatively we would highly recommend a site survey prior to purchasing your new property. These systems are often overlooked when buying a home and can prove costly to repair later.

Be prepared and don't get caught us now!

The survey report will include information on:

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    Drain and Tank Condition and Information

    This covers the actual condition of the drains and Septic Tank or sewage treatment plant and includes any damage or potential areas that need work.

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    Misconnections/cross connections

    This part of the home buyers drain survey looks at any pipes that are not connected properly. This could result in leakage and incorrect flow levels. We identify and report any such issues and advise on any remedial work. We will also identify any rainwater or surface water connections leading to the Septic Tank/Sewage treatment plant and recommend the best course of action for removing these along with an estimated cost.

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    Drainage System Ownership and Responsibility

    It is not always clear who is responsible for certain parts of the drainage and sewage systems around properties. This is one of those things that many people fail to think about until there is a problem. This can lead to confusion, issues with neighbours and even legal problems in the event of a something going wrong. Much like a chartered surveyor will outline the boundaries of the property we will provide information about the drain ownership.

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    Drain Mapping

    Your drainage survey will also provide you with a map of the drainage system. This can be very useful and save money in the event of any damage or repair work needed at a later date. It can also help if you then go on to sell the property as this map is unlikely to change.

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    Detailed Report

    You will receive a detailed report including images and video from the CCTV survey equipment. This information can then be used during the property purchase or any other legal situation. ADP are on hand to explain any issues and go over the report with you.

Find out more about our services in your area

Please visit the following pages to see which septic tank, sewage treatment plant or cesspit services we provide in your area.