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Drainage advice: Layouts and designs
by
Checkatrade

Basement sewer pipesWhy is it important to understand drainage design?

Most homeowners have little to no knowledge about designing a drainage system and are happy to just leave this part of their property completely alone. But doing this can lead to future issues.

While it’s a complicated topic, it is worth understanding underground drainage layouts to assist with access for repairs. This will save time and energy when building extensions too.

This guide contains all you need to know for any drainage design project. We will also be looking at rainwater drainage systems and drainage building regulations.

Underground drainage layouts

Now we know how important it is to properly plan your underground drainage layouts, let’s look a little closer at how this is done:

  • Start by checking whether your drainage is public or private. You will need permission from your local water company to build on or next to public sewers. This is a legal requirement and not following the correct procedures may lead to prosecution.
  • Generally, your drainage system will be classed as surface water, foul water, pumped or gravity. The best option for you will depend on the layout of your property, the gradients involved, how much pipeline is needed and where the points of connection are located.
  • Gradients are especially important. They are usually relative to how large the pipes are, changes in depth and the distance from the connection point to your kitchen, bathroom and downpipe.
  • The layout you choose with be made up of pipelines, gradients, inspection chambers, distances and any changes of direction.
  • Experienced, skilled tradespeople will have the capability to build a simplistic drainage system that adheres to building regulations.
  • If you require a more extensive drainage design, that includes backdrop chamber systems or pumped systems you will need to speak to a drainage engineer.

Top tip: In some circumstances, you may not be able to connect to a public system. In this case, it is possible to use a cesspool or package treatment plant.

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Laying piping under house

Drainage design tips

It is not only important to design a well-functioning drainage system, you will also need to create an efficient drainage design. You can do this using the following guidance:

  • When choosing gravity systems, ensure they have the right gradients. If your gradient is too steep or slack, then solids and silt may cause blockages in your pipeline.
  • Pumped systems are also a good option, although they do involve running costs of power supply, pump maintenance and any necessary replacements.
  • Alternatively, cesspools or package treatment plans also have running costs similar to pump systems with the additional cost of emptying them by tanker.

Planning a rainwater drainage system

Living in the UK comes with its share of unexpected rainfall. While this helps to keep our garden plants alive, it can be a hazard and cause problems with drainage. That’s why rainwater drainage systems are so important – they direct surface water from your roof, patio and driveway into well-placed drains.

If you want to be completely confident you are connecting your rainwater drainage system with the right drain, you will need to have the drainage pipelines around your home traced by a skilled professional. You can choose from your regular builder or a local drainage company. This will cost an average of £180 – £360 for each call out.

Top tip: All properties will suffer from surface water, but how and where it goes is key. Always check surface water is not collecting on any flat surfaces on your property and that it flows through pipes and into a public system or soakaway.

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House drainage layout considerations

During renovations or when building an extension, you may need to know more about your house drainage layout. This can be done by:

  • Speaking to your local authority and water company to see your house drainage layout.
  • For more information about your drainage pipelines, you can hire a competent tradesperson who has experience in this area, to trace your drainage system. They can then put together a report with everything you need to know.
  • Always check you are not building an extension over public or private drains or you may end up paying for expensive diversion works on public sewers. In addition, you could end up with costly issues around access and durability for private pipelines.
  • You may have a surface water connection which you will need to pay for through your local water company in addition to your foul water connection. Alternatively, you may be connected to a soakaway system which will not incur extra costs.
  • If you have ever had a blockage in your drainage system, you will know how important it is to be aware of the location of your system connections.

Top tip: Use a water butt to collect rainwater to water your garden and conserve water.

French drains costAre French drain systems worth it?

Choosing to install a French drain system can be an essential way of letting surface water flow away from your home.

One example of this is to use a French drain system alongside your driveway. Any surface water can then be drained from the driveway into the French drain, through the pipeline and into the earth.

Generally, French drain systems are slotted pipes that are bedded into the ground and surrounded by bedding. The trench is then lined with a membrane made from geotextile material. This prevents any soil from entering and causing blockages in the pipeline. Finally, the trench will be filled up to ground level.

Further details can be found in our French drains cost guide.

Drainage building regulations

If you are planning to build or alter a drainage system, you will need to stick closely to drainage building regulations. These legal requirements must be followed at all times for safety reasons. These essential rules will cover the following:

  • Rainwater drainage
  • Foul water drainage
  • Cesspools
  • Storage of waste
  • Treatment plants
  • Construction surrounding sewer

Speak to a professional tradesperson to ensure the correct protocol is followed.

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Does my house have surface water drainage?

Surface water drainage is important to keep your home dry and secure. It’s relatively simple to check if your home has this.

  • In the first instance, consider checking the deeds to your property.
  • Another way to be certain if your house has surface water drainage is to speak to your local authority. They will be able to check the original planning application for your home.
  • Finally, you can also look at your water bill to see if your home is connected to a public surface water system.

Underground concrete drains layout

Hiring an expert

Drainage systems can be very complex, and we would not advise altering these yourself unless you are experienced and have extensive knowledge of the subject.

To speak to a professional about checking or changing your current drainage system use our handy search feature.

How much does a new drainage system cost to be installed by a professional?

If your current drainage system is not working effectively or is damaged, it may be a good idea to speak to a professional about installing a new system. In fact, this may cost less than you would think.

The following are average prices you can expect to pay for these new drainage systems:

  • Basic gravity system: £500 – £1,500
  • Package pump system: £2,500 – £5,000
  • Package treatment system: £3,500 – £6,500
  • Cesspool: £1,500 – £3,000

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