Should my new house’s sewage connection be registered before I buy?
Property Clinic: Connection to a mains system requires permission from the local authority
Buying a house without a registered mains connection can become a costly business if an upgrade is required. Photograph: Getty
I have gone sale agreed on a property recently. The previous owner linked the house up to the mains sewage system. However, there does not appear to be a record of this with the county council. Should I hold back on the sale until they have registered this? Would it affect me if I tried to build an extension and went looking for planning permission?
The answer to the question is very simple. A connection to a mains sewage system requires permission from the local authority. This is largely because the mains sewage system is or will most likely be located on public property, eg, the footpath or a grass margin, or even on the actual public roadway, and this will involve crossing over public property in order to make the connection and thus the appropriate permission will be required.
Not only will permission be required, but the work will have to be carried out to a set standard and in a certain way so as to ensure that the natural flow of mains sewage system is not disrupted or impacted in any way. Furthermore, the work would most likely have to be carried out by an approved contractor with appropriate insurances, given that this involves working on public property.
Accordingly, if the vendor is not in a position to provide details/records of the connection having been made in the first instance, then they will not be in a position to stand over the quality of the works carried out. If you are to proceed with the acquisition without having this first clarified, you will be taking over the risk of having to check and verify this and possibly even having to upgrade or reform the connection. While it may well prove that the works were adequately done, this will be an unknown and it is better to leave this burden with the vendor for clarification prior to the closing of the sale.
Given that there is no record of this connection to date, in the normal course of events an issue of this nature may not arise or become apparent for a very long time. However, if you were to build an extension at some point, it is inevitable that it would come to light through the planning process. The planning authority would take the opportunity to seek clarification on the matter and this would give rise to inevitable costs to the applicant to have the matter clarified and/or upgraded as appropriate.
Accordingly, you should hold off on the sale until the vendor has regularised the situation and registered the connection. – Val O’Brien
Val O’Brien is a chartered building surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie