Forums / Property Investing / Help Needed! / Townhouse built over Sewer Main, should we still buy it?

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  • Profile photo of IthilienIthilien
    Join Date: 2017
    Post Count: 7

    Good evening everyone,

    After years of searching, we have finally found a townhouse we’re hoping to purchase. It’s in a great location and the price is something we’re just able to afford. It ticks nearly every single box in our checklist and we’re really happy to have found it. However there is just a single problem: the house is built over a sewer main.

    Currently there’s a 225 Vitrified Clay (VC) Pipe running underneath the garage, sitting 1.1m below the ground. And I was told by Sydney Water that the pipe is NOT Concrete Encased. There are also two Maintenance Holes at both ends of the lot boundary.

    The sewer information is provided below:

    View post on

    Although more importantly from a sanitary drainage diagram given, it says “Plumbing or Drainage found completed without inspection and does not meet Sydney Water’s requirements.” It seems the pipe have not been inspected after construction work had been done. This presents an issue as when problem occur with the sewer pipe (like bursts or leaks), Sydney Water told me they’re not liable for any compensations.

    What we’re wondering is:
    1. Would it be possible to have the sewer main inspected so that it’s covered by Sydney Water’s compensations? I’m not even sure if it’s possible to do it at this stage as the pipe is already under the building slab.
    2. If it is possible for us to arrange an inspection, and the results show that the pipe does not meet Sydney Water’s requirements. Does it mean we have to take full responsibility if accidents occur and there are damages to our property?
    3. What would be the worst case scenario in case an accident happen? What sort of damages will it cause? Will the house be in any risk to be knocked down or partially dismantled?
    4. If a leak or burst happens with the pipe, will it affect the structural integrity underneath the building in any way?
    5. How much compensations are Sydney Water legally required to provide in case damages are done to the house?

    • This topic was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by Profile photo of Ithilien Ithilien.
    Profile photo of IthilienIthilien
    Join Date: 2017
    Post Count: 7

    This is the first time we’re buying a property so I’m really not sure what to think of all these. Would you still recommend to purchase this townhouse given the above issues with the sewer pipe (not concrete encased, not inspected etc.)? We’ve been searching for years and this really seem to be a great place for us to live in. But we’re not sure how much detriment or inconvenience this sewer main will cause for us in the future. Although the townhouse is built in the 1950s, we do hope to stay here for a very long time (several decades).

    We’ve been reading through Sydney Water’s Technical Guidelines regarding this for the past couple of days:

    However it’s really hard for us to wrap our head around as neither of us are Engineers, or have a similar technical background. Would sincerely be thankful if someone who have knowledge in this area can help us out.

    Once again thank you so much for reading through this, really cannot express how much we appreciate your help on this matter. It really means a lot to us and we’re really grateful for your comments!

    Cheers and best wishes!

    Profile photo of BennyBenny
    Join Date: 2002
    Post Count: 1,366

    Hi Ithilien,
    Given your comment re the age of the townhouse, two things came to mind:-

    1. What does your Solicitor say about this? and

    2. Is it possible that this sewer line may not even be in use any more?

    Certainly, if 2 is the case, any risk drops dramatically.

    How you would find out if 2 is correct I don’t know, but I think I would start with either the local Council’s appropriate department, or my Solicitor. Hopefully other members may add more useful responses. Good luck,


    Profile photo of hobartchichobartchic
    Join Date: 2015
    Post Count: 8

    I would not want a sewer pipe on my land if the owner of the pipe says that I am liable for fixing issues assuming this takes sewerage from other properties. Too risky for my blood. If you do pursue this property then the price paid should reflect the risk.

    Profile photo of JaxonJaxon
    Join Date: 2014
    Post Count: 282

    Another question I would want to know, can I get insurance that will cover me in a worst case scenario of this going worst case.

    also can I use this to alter the price in my favour. even if a contract is in place you can use this to your advantage and maybe lower the price to reflect the cost this will/could cause.

    Profile photo of pbond48pbond48
    Join Date: 2017
    Post Count: 1

    I built adjacent to a sewerline and we had to have the peirs down further in the ground to remove it from the zone of influence.

    What your looking at sounds like an alarm bell as if you’ve built over the top and its not encased in concrete then you take the risk if the pipe get damaged.

    Was the garage added after the townhouse was built? I know for my situation we could not get approval from Sydney water to build unless we had engineering plans that showed the depth of the peirs

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