Have you recently carried out an extension to your property or planning to?
Did you check to see if you are required to enter into a Build Over Agreement with your local authority?
In recent times, many more people are getting caught out because of a Build Over Agreement or the lack thereof when carrying out extensions to their property.
What is a Build Over Agreement?
A Build Over Agreement is required if you are planning to build within 3 metres or over a public sewer.
Your local Water Authority has a statutory right of access to public sewers and so you cannot build over these sewers without first obtaining the authority’s consent. The local Water Authority therefore has to approve any building works planned within 3 metres from a sewer or drain.
This is what is referred to as a Build Over Agreement- permitting you to build over the said sewers and agreeing to prevent damage to sewers as the additional weight of the new building could cause the sewer to collapse and structurally damage the property.
Are there other options?
It is certainly worth considering other options before making an application such as:
• Avoiding the sewer through a modification to the plans
• Diverting the sewer
If having considered the alternatives, the only option is to apply to the water company for a build over agreement then an application should be made. Each of the water
companies have different processes to follow and different costs involved.
How does it affect you?
If you fail to obtain the requisite Agreement before building, the Water Authority can remove any structures blocking access to the sewers and will not be liable for any damage caused.
It may also affect the future sale of your property as your build over a public sewer is likely to be revealed when your buyer carries out a search during the course of the transaction. Their solicitors will check the drainage report for the plans and location of the sewers to ascertain whether any part of your property appears to be within 3 metres of a sewer or drain.
What can you do if you have already built over a public sewer but did not obtain a Build Over Agreement?
There are generally two options:
- You can seek a Retrospective Consent from the Sewerage Company. There is no guarantee that the consent will be given and there is a chance that your request for a Retrospective Consent would alert the authority to your breach of the bye law and you may even be asked by the local authority to make changes to the property which could result in significant expense being incurred.
- You could obtain an Indemnity Insurance to protect against any financial loss incurred as a result of the property being built over a public sewer. This is usually the preferred option as it is quick and cheaper but more importantly may avoid bringing the issue of the lack of the agreement to the attention of the authority. Please also note that you are not able to obtain indemnity insurance once the sewerage company have notified of the issue.
Author- Miss Amaka Jackson