Pre-Purchase Surveys in Somerset, Dorset & East Devon (2020)

For work in other areas please contact office POA

Buying a house is probably the largest investment you will ever make so why take the chance on there being hidden faults that could cost thousands to rectify and potentially could damage the property. If you are selling why not be ready for the question and have a full report prepared for potential purchasers or their surveyors.

Subject to there being good access into the drainage system and the drains being in a condition that makes surveying possible, our charge for a pre-purchase survey of an estate style house with no serviced out buildings:

1-3 bedrooms £310 + vat              4-5 bedrooms £385 + vat       


This allows for approximately 2 to 3 hours on site surveying the drains within the curtilage of the property plus the time needed in the office to produce the detailed report etc. which we will email to you via a “Sharefile” link. If you require a hard copy report and USB flash drive we can produce this and post it for £25 + vat

For large detached or individual domestic properties or those with serviced “Out Buildings” there are likely to be additional costs due to the extra drain meterage that can often be as much as that serving the main property.

We are happy to arrange access for the survey directly with the vendors or estate agents but we would charge for collection of keys at £30 + vat per hour

If all manholes are external and accessible we do not necessarily need to enter the house but if there are internal manholes, we need to run services to prove connection or we need a water supply, access is preferable.

Important note:

If on arrival we find there is no access to the drains or they are blocked or full of grease etc. we cannot survey the drains We would have the facilities to undertake the work necessary to clean to drains and within reason to gain access to them but there could be additional charges. We would not proceed without first discussing our findings with our client and agreeing any extra time/costs so there are no nasty surprises. The engineer would do this from site at the time of the survey so they can explain the problem/findings etc. and so there are no delays. Additional time for cleaning etc. would be charged at £60 + vat per hour.

The CCTV survey includes:

  • Electronic copy of survey
  • Site drawing as a sketch.
  • Pictures of specific points of interest.
  • Full colour coded industry standard report itemising all information about the pipe including construction and defect details on a measured scale.
  • Summary and recommendations together with any associated costs etc.


Call us today on 0800 02 86 041 or Email us at

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Septic Tanks

If the system discharges to a Septic Tank or Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) there are only a few very limited things we can do. We can make a visual inspection to determine if the tank and drainfield appears to be functioning correctly. We can check that the level of the liquor is correct and see if there are any obvious signs of past problems , the size of the tank (subject to access and design), the construction materials and condition of the limited parts that are visible.

We can also try and identify any visible contamination on the ground surface or in any watercourse in close proximity. Unfortunatly this cannot be conclusive and makes no account of changes in use or time.

If undertaken as part of a pre-purchase CCTV survey ------- £180 + vat  

If undertaken separately --------------------------------------------- £240 + vat  

It is advisable to have the Septic Tank emptied at the time of and as part of the inspection thereby allowing a view before emptying and better access for an internal condition survey. This we can undertake at the same time as the CCTV drain survey and tank inspection. Note that the cost for this is subject to conditions so please check with our office.


Important note

It is impossible to “test” or “prove” that a drainfield (commonly but incorrectly called a soakaway) will be adequate or give long term serviceability. We can only look at the levels within a septic tank or STP and any staining or grease line in the tank or manholes and say that at that moment in time, the levels are or have been correct (or not).

Even if all appears good at the time of the inspection we would not know or be able to predict the life expectancy of the drainage field. They do deteriorate over time and do have to be replaced.

This is very dependent on 1) how the drainfield was constructed/installed 2) how it has been treated in the past and 3) how it would be treated in the future. Septic tanks, treatment plants and drainfield’s rely on biological action to operate successfully so for example you only need to use too much bleach and you have the potential to kill 99.9% of the good bacteria that makes the system work.

Another example of potential problems, a drainfield may have worked well with the discharge from just two people iliving in the property but would not cope with an increase in discharge from say mum, dad, four children and washing the kit of the local football team twice a week.

We can also try and identify any visible contamination on the ground surface or in any known watercourse that is near the property however, this cannot be conclusive.
We cannot necessarily state with certainty that a septic tank discharges to a drainfield, a watercourse or both i.e. a drainfield with an overflow to a watercourse. As an example, if we dye test a tank outlet and identify dye in a watercourse, we can say with certainty that there is a discharge to water however, If we dye test a tank outlet and do not find dye in the water, we can only say with certainty that we did not find dye in the water. There are any number of reasons it may not show at the time of the inspection.
Even if we do not find or identify any pollution, we cannot make allowances for future changes in use or deterioration over time

We can only give a snapshot in time which will be indicative but we can give no guarantees due to the very nature of these installations. 

It is also impossible to give a price to install a new drainfield without undertaking detailed and potentially costly testing of the subsoil to determine first if it is suitable and the size/length of drainfield required. This is not cheap as is requires more than one day if undertaken correctly as per “Building Regulations Section H2”. The “General Binding Rules” and additional information from the Environment Agency and DEFRA. are all available on line 

It is also very time consuming undertaking the preparation of any proposals for remedial work if any is required therefore this is not included in the cost of the basic inspection


Call us today on 0800 02 86 041 or Email us at

  Get Quote

Common Problems

Pre Purchase Surveys - melted pipe

Pipe melted due to serious fire.

Above ground the property have been fully repaired but below ground was forgotten.

What do we say about "out of sight, out of mind?"

Pre Purchase Surveys - moled pipe

Water pipe "moled" through drain. It's often cheaper to"Mole" in a service than to excavate and install but no one checks for damage and you may have to pick up the bill for repairing the drain.

What other damage is being caused by that leaking drain?

Pre Purchase Surveys - delaminated pipe

Picture of a Pitch Fibre pipe delaminating and collapsing. A material often installed during the 1950's & 1960's of which a report by DEFRA in 2003 said:

"The pipes [made from pitch-fibre] were relatively inexpensive and easy to handle and install. However, it became apparent that these pipes were susceptible to the delamination of their inner surface,ruining the integrity of the pipes. It was also discovered that, under normal conditions, they were susceptible to collapse under applied loading sooner than pipes made of more rigid materials"

Do you know what is under your property?

Pre Purchase Surveys - root infestation

Root infestation.

This is one of the most common causes of drain blockages and if roots are getting in water is leaking out which could be causing further more serious and unseen problems. The effects of this can be both extensive and expensive so is it worth knowing of any problems developing?

The sooner found the easier rectified.