Service connection fee for new home is €10,000, is this normal?

Property Clinic: Water connection fees explained

Q. We are building a new three-bedroom house in a small Mayo town. We are on the street, with all services passing our door. We have received a bill from Irish Water for connection fees of €3,000 for water, and €7,000 for sewerage waste connection. In total, €10,000. Is this the normal charge now for a new house? Is there any way we can reduce this?

A. The Planning & Development Acts 2000-2014 provide for a system for levying development contributions in order to increase provision of infrastructure throughout the various local authority areas, and includes the refurbishment, upgrading, enlargement or replacement of roads, car parks, car parking places, sewers, waste water and water treatment facilities, service connections or watermains. The basis for determining the contributions to be paid is calculated having regard to:-

a) The estimated cost to each local authority as set out in the objectives in the various development plans and local area plans.

(b) The estimated number of units and/or the floor area of projected development for residential and industrial/commercial classes for the life of the development plan, and

(c) The estimated charge for each residential unit and/or the estimated charge per sq m for industrial/commercial development and other categories of development.

Therefore in response to your question, there is no normal charge for a new house. Since assuming responsibility for water and wastewater connection charging on January 1st, 2014, Irish Water has continued to implement the connection charging policies and related charges applied by each local authority prior to this date.

With the approval of the Commission for Energy Regulation, Irish Water has been applying these interim connection charges in the form of works fees, infrastructure fees and supplemental fees

The previous local authority connection fee is now called a Works Fee, and the previous local authority development levy (for water or wastewater connections) is now called an Infrastructure Fee. Supplemental fees refer to the provision of a particular public infrastructure service or project, or pursuant to an agreement entered into by a public authority with any person where the provision of the infrastructure is an objective in the development plan or pursuant to an agreement that will benefit the development to which the permission relates.

Where a new connection is required, an application is made directly to Irish Water, or via the relevant local authority. Irish Water will then assess the application and issue a connection offer, detailing the costs and the works required in order to enable a new connection to be made. Once the connection offer has been agreed (requiring acceptance of the terms and condition of the connection offer including payment of the connection fee) Irish Water will then organise for the necessary works to be made.

As the query does not detail the exact location of the property, by way of example, the supplemental development contribution scheme 2009 adopted by Mayo County Council included a contribution of €4,800 per dwelling due to the Westport main drainage scheme. Similarly, the Westport road section of the Louisburgh Water Supply resulted in a residential contribution of €1,513 per unit.

Although these figures are not directly comparable – they are used for illustrative purposes only and provide for supplemental contributions only – the connection offer you have received from Irish Water is specific to your property, and presumably takes into account the works required in order for the connection to be made, together with supplemental fees for infrastructural provision. Also, connection fees are not appealable to An Bord Pleanala.

Fergal Bradley is a chartered building surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland,