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Shared drains - any pitfalls?

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Shared drains - any pitfalls?

Postby raine » Sat Dec 31, 2016 1:22 pm

Hi guys,

First post on this forum.

I own an end-terrace house which has some space at the side which I'm planning to build a new infill terrace house in. I'll be splitting the title, and selling one of the houses, whilst keeping the other to live in.

The drains for the existing house run under the space where I'm planning to build the new house.

I think my options for the drains are:

1. Build a new drain for the existing house, located under the existing house, with a new connection to the public sewer.
The new house will use the existing public sewer connection. Each house will have completely separate drains and its own sewer connection.
Down sides of this are a) difficult to run new pipes under the existing house, b) may not have enough space to put a new man hole (required for sewer connection) in front of the existing house.

2. Have a SHARED drain, serving both houses, running under the new house, with appropriate rodding access as required by regs. Use the existing public sewer connection.

My question is really around option 2. I know that shared drains do exist, but are there any pitfalls or issues with this?

Who is responsible if the drain becomes blocked?

I presume I'll need to have something written into the deeds of both houses that grants access for clearing drains?

Not done this before so not sure what I need to consider before committing to this.

Thanks in advance for any help you can give.
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Re: Shared drains - any pitfalls?

Postby atticus » Sat Dec 31, 2016 2:53 pm

Having recently built an extension over the line of a drain, I strongly recommend consulting your local water and sewerage authority.

The answers to your final questions will be to have well drafted deeds. DIY is not recommended.
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Re: Shared drains - any pitfalls?

Postby miner » Sat Dec 31, 2016 3:22 pm

It strikes me that the legal issues only become relevant for consideration once the Local Authority's and Civil Engineering issues are settled.
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Re: Shared drains - any pitfalls?

Postby tph » Sat Dec 31, 2016 6:11 pm

Can you not divert the existing drains around the new house?
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Re: Shared drains - any pitfalls?

Postby theycantdothat » Sun Jan 01, 2017 10:36 am

miner wrote:It strikes me that the legal issues only become relevant for consideration once the Local Authority's and Civil Engineering issues are settled.


Quite. The OP needs to find out what he can and must do and where there is a choice which is recommended.
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Re: Shared drains - any pitfalls?

Postby dls » Sun Jan 01, 2017 11:01 am

Eventualy it is a property which will be sold. There is no point saving a few hundred pounds now to lose a few thousand on a sale.
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Re: Shared drains - any pitfalls?

Postby diy » Tue Jan 03, 2017 8:51 am

could you not make the house smaller and detached with all drainage going down a path between the two buildings? It will probably help with planning objections from others in the block and avoid access problems to both properties rear gardens.
My suggestions are not legal advice
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Re: Shared drains - any pitfalls?

Postby raine » Wed Jan 04, 2017 9:42 pm

Thanks for the replies so far. Quick update:

- I have spoken to the water company and they've confirmed that I do have space to put the new man hole in front of the existing house, but I may be required to perform a small amount of underpinning to the existing foundations (just in the vicinity of the new man hole). Because the drains are on private land, the water company and local authority don't care whose land or which buildings they run under, as it's outside of their remit.

- Building a new drain under the existing house is entirely possible engineering-wise and structurally but it's expensive and disruptive.

- The space that I'm building in is very narrow - only just about wide enough for an infill terrace, which will be butted up against my wall on one side and my neighbour's wall on the other side, so no possibility of running drains under "clear air" - they'll have to go under a building. Which leads back to my original question of which house to run the existing house's drains under.

- I've thought of a third option (hybrid of options 1 & 2), which may be the most preferable, which is to run new private drains under each house, then join them together at the final man hole, with a shared connection into the main sewer in the street. That seems to be the most common way of doing shared drains.

- DLS says
Eventualy it is a property which will be sold. There is no point saving a few hundred pounds now to lose a few thousand on a sale.

Quite. This is the main reason I'm after some advice on it.

So, questions:

1. Are there any legal pitfalls or issues with shared drains when it comes to selling the house?
2. Would a solicitor usually flag shared drains as an issue to potential buyers? If so, how much of an issue? Just an FYI, or "I don't recommend that you buy this house"?
3. Who is responsible if my drain becomes blocked where it runs under a neighbour's land?
4. Has anyone here ever come across a situation (other than in flats) where someone's drains runs under a neighbour's building, rather than just under the neighbour's land?

Thanks again guys.
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Re: Shared drains - any pitfalls?

Postby Hairyloon » Thu Jan 05, 2017 12:21 am

raine wrote:So, questions:

1. Are there any legal pitfalls or issues with shared drains when it comes to selling the house?
2. Would a solicitor usually flag shared drains as an issue to potential buyers? If so, how much of an issue? Just an FYI, or "I don't recommend that you buy this house"?
3. Who is responsible if my drain becomes blocked where it runs under a neighbour's land?
4. Has anyone here ever come across a situation (other than in flats) where someone's drains runs under a neighbour's building, rather than just under the neighbour's land?

Thanks again guys.


1) At a guess, the legal pitfalls would be that any potential buyer would want to have good answers to questions 1, 3 and 5*.
2) A solicitor should certainly flag it up as an FYI and a need for those answers.
3) That would depend upon the relevant agreements, and possibly on the cause of the blockage.
4) Come back in a year or few: if I ever build my extension then my neighbour may be in that kind of situation. ;)
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Re: Shared drains - any pitfalls?

Postby dls » Thu Jan 05, 2017 6:02 am

1 Careful draughtsmanship will be required. Many council houses were built in this way. Problems arose after their sales off because the (original) documentation failed to establish workable arrangements.
2 Yes. Remember also that buyers will usually put up with more than will their lenders.
3 The documentation should create a clear and workable solution. The person responsible is the person teh documents say is responsible. UK land law is very weak when it comes to enforcing repairing responsibilities as between neighbours. Both may have an urgent need for a repair, but not both may have the money. The permutations of what may go wrong are several.
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