A drainage engineer repairing a broken pipe.

Are you thinking about expanding your property as a homeowner or developer but face a significant obstacle? If your planned construction is over a sewer line, tread carefully. This concise guide is designed to shed light on the risks and legal implications of building over sewers without proper authorization.

Understanding the Risks of Unauthorized Construction Over Sewers

Building over a sewer without permission is a risky endeavour. It can result in damage to the sewer, pose environmental hazards, and may even devalue your property. It’s also illegal without consent from relevant authorities, as sewers are essential for public health and require regular maintenance.

The Importance of Gaining Proper Permissions

Before you proceed with your building plans, you must obtain approvals from local councils, the Environmental Agency, and Water and Sewerage Companies (WASCs). These entities regulate sewer and drainage systems to prevent potential damages and environmental impacts.

Facing the Consequences

Building over a sewer without permission can lead to civil litigation, criminal prosecution, and even injunctions demanding the demolition of unauthorized structures. Additionally, you could face substantial fines, cover the costs of rectification, and compensate for damages to third parties.

Impact on Property Owners

Illegal construction over a sewer can significantly affect property owners, leading to a decrease in property value, potential property damage, and issues with insurance coverage.

Protecting the Environment

Unauthorized building over sewers violates environmental safeguarding regulations, risking sewage leaks and ecological damage. These regulations aim to promote sustainable development and protect the environment from harm.

Adhering to Building Regulations

Building regulations require proper sewer drainage provisions and detailed planning for construction over or near sewers. You’ll need written consent from the sewerage undertaker, ensuring access for maintenance and repairs is maintained.

Steps to Ensure Legal Compliance

To avoid legal trouble, locate sewer lines on your property, obtain a detailed plan, seek necessary permissions, and comply with all conditions of the approval. A CCTV survey before and after construction may also be required to ensure the sewer remains undamaged.


Building over public or private sewer lines without the correct permissions can result in severe legal consequences, including criminal prosecution. To avoid such outcomes, always follow the guidelines and obtain the necessary approvals. Ignoring these steps can lead to the demolition of your construction project at your own expense.

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