Home Buyer Drain Survey Faqs

Home Buyer Drain Survey Faqs

Considering a drain survey but not sure if it’s right for the property you’re buying? Do you want to find out more about what it entails? You’re in the right place.

This FAQ page contains common questions for our drain survey service that will help you know what to expect. Surveys are available for the South East and East of England.

What pipes can you inspect with CCTV?

CCTV can be used to carry out an inspection of pipes that run from the house to the septic tank. It cannot be used to inspect the pipes or drains running out from the tank to the drainage field.

The reason that CCTV cannot be used to inspect the pipes between the tank and its drainage is that these drains could be made in a wide variety of sizes and materials, and were often constructed with no regulations years ago.

Traditionally, older papes were clay land drains butted up to each other, which each one being about 12” long. Many of these were in place before plastic was invented! Clay land drains deteriorate over time, and can often disintegrate when exposed to the jet wash needed for a CCTV inspection. Jet washing providers require a disclaimer to be signed if the jetter becomes stuck and needs excavation, which means that it is not a practical way of inspecting these drains.

Can you advise me where the drainage field is located?

A home buyer drain survey cannot pinpoint the exact location of the drainage field, but the surveyor may be able to provide you with some valid assumptions as to its possible whereabouts.

Unfortunately, most drainage fields cannot be precisely located as records are not maintained. There were no regulations in the past, and even current building controls do not require a record to be created.

However, our surveyors are highly experienced and may be able to help you identify a likely location. They can discuss with the current homeowner to find out anything, they already know, and assess the lay of the land to determine if there is a likely area. They can only provide new home buyers with assumptions, but these assumptions will be based on valid information and the surveyor’s skill.

Will my survey tell me the condition of the drainage field?

Indicators in the septic tank and surrounding area can give the surveyor an idea of whether or not there is a problem with the drainage field. However, it is not possible to determine how long the field will last before a new area needs to be created.

The indicators that your surveyor will look for include:

  • Water flowing back into the tank from the outlet pipe
  • Condition of the trees and shrubs around the drainage field
  • Sunken ground
  • Boggy ground

The life expectancy of a drainage field is also impacted by the condition of the septic tank. If the surveyor sees that the septic tank is in poor condition, it is likely that your drainage field will be negatively impacted.

What is the purpose of having the tank empty?

The septic tank needs to be empty before a home buyer’s survey can be carried out for a number of reasons:

  • The surveyor needs to see the whole septic tank to see if it complies with building regulations.
  • To reveal the whole tank so that the surveyor can see its condition.
  • To view the whole construction of the tank and identify any brickwork, concrete rings, shuttered concrete, blockwork and more.
  • To see clearly whether or not water is coming back into the tank from the drainage field.
  • To see whether or not the T pipes are in place and, if not, if they’re in the bottom of the tank.
  • To see if there are any fractures on the tank or root ingress from above ground.

If the tank is not completely empty for the survey, the surveyor’s ability to assess the above issues may be impaired or removed completely. For accurate results, it is essential that the septic tank is empty.

How quickly can the survey be booked?

Owls Hall can book your survey for the 1st appointment of the day, i.e. 8:00 am, and we aim to book it within 5 to 7 days of confirming the order.

How soon after the survey is completed can I get the report?

The surveyor will typically email his report to the office staff to complete the compliance checks immediately after completing the survey. The compliance process normally takes 24 to 48 hours (1-2 working days). CCTV reports will take about 72 hours to complete. You’ll receive your report as soon as possible following these processes.