With so much of the UK's housing stock over 100 years old it stands to reason that much of the drainage is also the same age, or older! The conditions of drains is not covered in any standard survey and yet a collapsed drain may be expensive.
In older properties (Victorian, Georgian, etc.) the drains were usually constructed using ceramic sections which slotted into each other. While this works perfectly well it does allow roots to infiltrate and where excessive pressure is applied (say the roots of trees) they can crack and collapse.
For those purchasing period freehold properties a drainage survey can be a prudent move to assess the condition, and likelihood of failure.
Drain surveys work by moving cameras down and along the drain taking periodic images or video and highlighting faults (such as cracking or excessive scaling) and possible issues such as large roots.
Note that at present there is no restriction as to who can set up a drainage survey company which has lead to a large number of cowboy firms who either last very short periods of time or produce poor quality reports which will not provide a clear picture of the pipe's condition.
Visit the Property Resources page for more information on the National Association of Drainage Contractors that maintains a list of companies that have been vetted for this work.
I'm Tim Hill, Author of How to Really Buy a Property. I'm a property buyer, seller, landlord, tenant and I've been an agent in hundreds of transactions. I own a property portfolio across Europe but that doesn't mean I think you should to!
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