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Public sewer under house we want to buy - Problem?

(18 Posts)
imme Thu 16-Aug-12 21:20:33

So we have finally found a great house to buy and should be exchanging soon. But the water and drainage search revealed that there is a public foul sewer running under the house. After reading around the subject we decided to do a drainage survey. So it turned out that the pipe is half blocked and apparently has a crack.
It seems that Thames Water is responsible for maintaining and fixing this, but should this issue be a big concern for us about buying the house or are we overly worried about this?
Would be great to hear some opinions.


tawse57 Thu 16-Aug-12 22:12:33

I would walk away and not think twice about it now personally.

If that sewer crack worsens and the sewer collapses in some way you could be entering a whole world of grief, stress and huge financial cost just trying to prove it had nothing to do with you or your property.

Even if they decide to fix the sewer next month what will be the implications on your house in terms of structure, foundations, etc? What happens if they do major work on the sewer, repair everything and then 12 or 18 months later, or 5 years, your house begins to subside?

I would not like to think of the worry, stress and cost of trying to take on a big company when potentially substantial sums are involved. They may be wonderful but, hey, this is Britain isn't it!?

Best of luck in whatever decision you decide.

drtachyon Thu 16-Aug-12 22:13:54

Is it under the actual house? Or just in the garden?

I'd be wondering how Thames Water would go about accessing the pipe for maintenance if it is under the house. I'm not an expert on foundations and the like, but a leaking sewage pipe under the actual house surely can't be good for them. Quite aside from the health risks to your family.

CointreauVersial Thu 16-Aug-12 22:19:38

Unusual for public sewers to go under houses - they normally follow roads.

I would contact Thames Water to understand more about it.

maxmissie Thu 16-Aug-12 22:23:14

A public sewer runs under our garden and garage, think its a combined sewer so foul and surface water. There are manholes in our back garden just behind garage and one in the garage itself so water company can easily get to it if they need to. Not that they have had to in the eight years we have lived there, there have been no problems at all. Not sure what implications would be if there was a problem but at least it's not actually under the main house, not sure I would be so keen if it was for reasons mentioned above.

Only issue was when dh's parents (who own our house) wanted to build the garage over the sewer, it was quite costly to sort out with water company and had to be built in a certain way so sewer can be accessed and wouldn't be damaged.

tawse57 Thu 16-Aug-12 22:28:44

There is a new build next door but one to me and it has a combined sewer going through the front of the garden.

Its garage is built way too close to the front windows of the house due to this sewer and, frankly, makes the house look ugly and the garden is just wasted.

They could not build over the sewer... but this is a new build and I suspect there are thousands of houses in the UK built over sewers long before building regs came into force about where you could and could not build. In many cities the sewers were built under already built houses such as in London.

vez123 Thu 16-Aug-12 22:31:06

Thanks for your responses. In this case it runs under the actual house. It's a 1930s terrace and has a manhole cover in the front garden and on the patio. I think the sewer serves about 10 or so houses. I am so torn because the house suits us in all other aspect. Nice neighbourhood, good schools, good transport links.. It requires quite a bit of work though..

PigletJohn Thu 16-Aug-12 22:41:10

I suspect it is what is called a "common sewer" (they are not unusual with terraced houses) and not a "public sewer"

In a 1930's house the soil pipe would usually be cast iron on the outside wall, and would not be inside or under the house.

It is very unusual to be under a house. They are usually behind the houses by a few metres. Sometimes people build extensions over them (this is not actually allowed). In terraces they usually run behind all the houses, parallel with the road, then come forwards to join the sewer under the road at the end of the terrace.

How do you know this one is under the house?

plim Thu 16-Aug-12 22:47:18

I'd call Thames water and get some more info, not loving the idea of a leaking sewer under your house though.

vez123 Thu 16-Aug-12 22:47:29

The search contained a map of the sewers and it is quite obvious on that map.

plim Thu 16-Aug-12 22:49:07

Does it only run under your property or under others on that row?

tawse57 Thu 16-Aug-12 22:51:22

I wonder if the house was definitely built in the 1930s?

Just wondering whether the terrace was built in the 1930s and where your house is was originally open space at one end of the terrace - just wondering if your house was actually built sometime soon after World War Two?

Is it definitely part of the original terrace or does it look as if it was built on one end or even in a gap connected two terraces together.

From what you describe it appears to be going under the house. I would not be happy about that at all and would walk away personally.

vez123 Thu 16-Aug-12 22:51:40

Just ours. Think there may be one other house in the road that has the same setup.

vez123 Thu 16-Aug-12 22:53:20

According to the survey it was actually built around 1920. Getting really depressed about this...

PigletJohn Thu 16-Aug-12 22:59:16

TW can reline damaged sewers by digging a pit at each end of the section, and poking through. I imagine they would do that if the sewer ran under a house. Unless you had pressing reasons though, it would be less trouble to let someone else buy the house and go through it. No doubt it will affect the resale value too, unless the sewer got relaid in a more sensible way.

plim Thu 16-Aug-12 23:07:01

Have a look at the link above, there is a bit about leaking drains causing subsidence. I would walk away tbhonest.

And123 Sun 15-Mar-15 11:07:42

Hi , this is a long shot , just seen this thread and I'm in a similar situatiion. Would love to know how you got on? Thanks

nusnus Fri 23-Sep-16 22:00:43

In some cases a right of access to a common sewer is included as a covenant. It is in my terrace where at least two extensions are built over the common sewer but no vendor is going to admit that access has been restricted. The most recent vendor had his property surveyed. He got a significant reduction because of what he said was damp under the house but now claims the drain and sewer (the terrace is circa 1865) may be leaking. I am sceptical but one wonders what the surveyor said and why my neighbour decided to buy. In these kinds of situations one needs to be very clear-eyed.

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