Your Guide to Getting a Build Over Agreement

For many homeowners, a property may not feel fully complete until it has had an extension or a conservatory built on its side, or extending to the front or back. In these cases, this may require building over drains or public sewers in order to achieve the effect you want from your new interior space. However, moving forward with your work will not be fully straightforward, as you may need a build over agreement before you will be allowed to carry out your project.

build over agreement

Below, we have provided some professional information on build over agreements and expert tips you will need to know if you plan on building any sort of extension close to (or over) a public sewer. These are the basics that will help to get you started if you wish to go ahead with your planned proposal.

If you are having any other problems with the drains on your property, call or email Coastal Drains today and we will be able to unblock, repair or clean your drains as and when you need us to. We love what we do and we want you to have as few troubles with any aspect of your drainage as possible, so we will do everything we can to keep yours running, keeping your household comfortable.

What is a Build Over Agreement?

A build over agreement is a legal document put in place to protect the public sewer or main drain you are intending to carry out work over, or very close to. It gives assurance to your local water authorities that they will be able to access the pipe if they need to clean or repair it. Having this agreement in place also clearly states these facts to buyers if you ever plan on moving and selling your property, so any future owners will not be caught out if engineers from your water company suddenly arrive outside.

You will need the agreement in place because your local water company is responsible for all of the public sewers in your region. As they are responsible for their maintenance, it’s vitally important that there is no building work restricting their access. Just imagine how awful it could be for you as a homeowner if your new conservatory were to be built over a public sewer, which then burst, and there was no way to access it to carry out repairs! 

There is also the worry that the weight of your proposed works could cause the sewer to collapse, which will result in structural damage to your extension, interrupted drainage to your property and to others, and will also cause wastewater to flood outside your home. In order to repair the drain, the only option may be to take down the building.

Consulting with and applying to local water companies in your region is stated as part of the process in the Building Regulations 2010 Part H4. Building inspectors may even ask to see a copy of your build over agreement before they will sign off a Completion Certificate, so you must follow the guidelines set and send off an application before you start building over drains.

What You Need to do Before You Make an Application

There are a few things that will need to be established before you apply for permission to build over an underground drain that is managed by a local water authority:

  • If the nearest public sewer is truly within the vicinity of your proposed works
  • That you understand why your local water company needs to know you are planning on building over drains or sewers, or near to them
  • That you have found out about your local water company’s build over/near to requirements, as these may change depending on where you live
  • That you have made sure your proposals fit the regulations and standard criteria given

How to Make an Application

Every local water company will have its own website, and each should have a section dedicated to applying for permission to build an extension over public sewers. You may also make this application by post. 

You must make sure that this is carried out, as you will not be able to obtain the required Building Regulations Completion Certificate otherwise. This signs off your building work as complete and makes it easier for you if you ever plan on selling your property. You must also have permission and consent from your local authority before any work on a conservatory or extension is started over a public sewer, as it may then be difficult to make amendments and could cause delays.

Where You Cannot Build Over

There are some circumstances in which you will be denied permission to build any form of extension directly over a public sewer. These include:

build over agreement
  • If the sewer is pressurised (i.e. a pumping or rising main)
  • If it is a strategic sewer (it carries waste for a large number of properties)
  • If an entirely new building or dwelling has been proposed
  • If any manhole covers, drain covers or inspection chambers will be located inside a building because of the work

In the event of a completely new property being built, your local water authority will most likely advise that the sewer is diverted instead. If this is the case, you will need to get in touch with a professional drainage firm that also operates as a contractor, in order to have the moving work carried out.

Your local water company will not allow manholes or drain covers to remain in the interior of your property, because of the increased risk of flooding and issues with odour. As such, both must be removed entirely, and piped through manholes should be reconstructed outside of the extension work.

When You Will Not Need an Agreement

Whether you will need an application or not depends on how close to your property boundary (and to the public sewer) you are planning on building. This may vary depending on the region you live in, but the general guideline will usually be that you need permission if your planned work falls within 3m of the nearest public sewer. 

If all the sewers on your property are your responsibility (i.e. they are private sewers), then you will not require a planning agreement, though you may still require planning permission for certain extensions.

Having Troubles with Drains Within Your Property Boundary?

As the drains that fall within your property boundary are your responsibility, it will be up to you to schedule and pay for any repairs, clearing or maintenance that they need. For example, if there is a bad odour coming from your drain covers, or your foul and surface water drainage both run to the wrong location, then you will need to contact a professional team to come and carry out the work to get your drains working as they should.

Contact us for Swift Professional Drainage Services

If you know that your drain needs cleaning, unblocking or a complete repair, or even if you are unsure what the problem might be but there are foul smells coming from your drain covers or sinks, call our team at Coastal Drains today. We are passionate about providing good service to all our customers with drainage problems that fall within their property boundary, and we can be there in no time at all in order to make sure they are fixed.

All jobs will be carried out quickly and efficiently, as we have all the knowledge, tools and equipment necessary to tackle any task, developed and perfected over the years we have spent looking after our customers’ drains. All you will need to do is call and arrange a time for us to come to you, then sit back and relax as we put your pipes in full working order again.

Author: Greg Child

Greg is an expert in drainage and has been in the business for over 30 years. He's the owner of Coastal Drains Ltd and a very, very friendly chap.

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