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Why Should You Have a Pre-Purchase Drain Survey?

May 5, 2020

A pre-purchase drain survey is a tiny investment compared to the hundreds of thousands of pounds required to buy a house. Yet, the state of drainage systems is typically overlooked by standard house surveys. All manner of problems may be lurking beneath the surface without the buyer knowing anything about it. Even the seller themselves may be unaware. At the very least, a drainage survey provides you with peace of mind that the property purchase doesn't come with hidden costs. But it may also save you thousands of pounds in the long run.

Pre-Purchase Drain Survey

What is a pre-purchase drain survey?

A drain survey is a specialist job, requiring all the right equipment and expertise. At the most basic level, it's an in-depth investigation of drainage systems connected to your house. A drainage survey gives you a detailed overview of the state of your drainage systems and highlights any current issues or potential issues that might arise in the future. The kind of issues the survey looks for include:

  • Collapsed pipes
  • Leaks
  • Blocked drains
  • Non-flowing sewage
  • Tree root ingress
  • Damaged pipes


How is a drainage survey performed?

At Reactive Plumbing and Drainage, we perform a CCTV drain survey. It's a high tech means of investigating all your drainage systems. In simple terms, we send a remote-controlled camera down the pipework and we watch as it snakes its way around the underground plumbing. In real-time we can see if there are any badly connected pipes, any sewage back up, root ingress or other forms of wear and tear. Another potential issue is subsidence which can cause the property and/or drainage systems to move. The whole process starts with an engineer cleaning the drains using a high-pressure water jet. The survey in total takes between two and three hours. Once it's completed we provide a drainage survey report.


What's included in a pre-purchase drainage survey report?

A map of your drainage system: If any damage or repairs are required in the future, then having a map of your drainage system is very useful. Problems can be pinpointed faster, keeping costs low. Should you want to sell your property in the future, then this is useful information to hand over, giving the potential buyer reassurance before they buy.

Overview of structural condition: This is probably the most important part for a home buyer, as it reveals what kind of condition the pipework and drainage system is in. If there are any problems, this will be flagged up, including potential costs. If there are any bad connections, which could cause drainage back-up or incorrect flow levels, this will also be revealed.

Ownership boundaries: Often property owners don't know who owns what, and who's responsible for which part of the drainage system. We can reveal that information so that any future issues will not be open to dispute. When a problem occurs, you'll know where responsibility lies.

In-depth survey report: The survey report will include images and videos as captured by our CCTV drain survey. If there are any legal disputes regarding the condition of the drainage system, this kind of evidence will help clarify the situation. As drainage experts we can also offer our professional opinion. The drainage report will tell you everything you need to know about the state of your drainage system.


Why is a pre-purchase drain survey so important?

The first thing to mention is that a drain survey will not be covered by your property survey. It's a specialist job requiring specialist equipment and expertise.

The reason you need a drainage survey is much the same as why you need a property survey done. A property survey is undertaken to check the state of the property to make sure you will not be hit with maintenance or repair costs after you've bought the property. And if you reveal these issues prior to purchasing, you can either renegotiate the price to take these issues into account; or, simply walk away from the deal if there is no movement from the seller.

The same goes for your pre-purchase drain survey. When you're investing money into a property, you want to be sure there are no hidden costs which will put an unexpected dent in your finances at a later date.

Drainage issues can vary greatly in cost, but in the worst-case scenario, you can be talking about thousands of pounds worth of damage.

Consider the following scenarios:

Root ingress: Otherwise known as root intrusion, this is when a root from a tree causes damage to the underground pipework. It can shift the pipework causing potential issues with connection. It's one of the most common problems and in the worst-case scenario could collapse the whole drainage system. By their nature, trees seek out the source of water, so they are attracted to drainage systems.

Leaks: Underground pipe leaks are hard to detect because the water or waste takes a long time to come to the surface and make themselves detectable. Leaks can lead to damp in a property, causing additional costs. Altogether costs can rise into the thousands. 

Blockages: Blockages can back-up sewage causing a horrible odour within a property. Usually, blockages reveal themselves when water starts draining slowly from a sink. Sometimes a household drain clearance product can temporarily clear the problem, only for it to keep reoccurring. It becomes an ongoing problem. The solution is to tackle the blockage at source as it's likely there's a mini 'fatberg' blocking up the pipes further down. A pre-purchase drain survey will reveal any blockages that are going to cause ongoing problems and ensure they don't become an ongoing hassle for the buyer.


A home buyer drain survey is a smart investment

When you compare the small cost of purchasing an initial survey, compared to the potential costs of not checking, then it's a no-brainer. For the same reason, homebuyers invest in a property survey; home buyers would be wise to invest in a pre-purchase drain survey.


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