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What is a Drainage and Water Search?

Nicola Ryan

Written by

13th Oct 2023 (Last updated on 12th Apr 2024) 7 minute read

The Water and Drainage Search, also known as a CON29DW, is one of the main searches carried out during the conveyancing process. It focuses on a property’s water and sewerage system, highlighting any issues that may occur as well as factors that may impact it in the future.

Your conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor will arrange the search. They will gather information from approved databases and write up a report that is easy to read. They’ll be on hand to answer any concerns you may have and provide expert advice if you need it.

In this guide, we’ve gathered everything you need to know about the Water and Drainage Search. This includes what to expect from the report and the average costs.

  1. When Do I Need a Drainage and Water Search?
  2. What Does it Look At?
  3. How Long Do Drainage Searches Take?
  4. Are They Compulsory Searches?
  5. How Much Does a Drainage and Water Search Cost?
  6. CON29DW vs Regulated Water Search
  7. Water and Drainage Search in Scotland
  8. How Long Does it Last?
  9. What Other Searches Do I Need When Buying a House?
  10. Finding a Conveyancer

When Do I Need a Drainage and Water Search?

You’ll need a Water and Drainage Search if you are buying a house with a mortgage. On the other hand, cash buyers are not obliged to have the search carried out. However, the information provided in the search is hugely beneficial.

Searches are usually ordered at the start of the conveyancing process. The CON29DW is carried out before the exchange of contracts. This is to ensure that you know everything about the property’s water and sewerage systems.

Read more on What Are Conveyancing Searches?

What Does it Look At?

The Drainage and Water Search’s purpose is to highlight any major issues in your water and sewerage systems. The report includes whether the property is connected to the public water supply and sewerage systems. It also determines how the property is charged for the water supply.

Other factors that are considered include the water pressure and if there is a risk of surface water and sewer flooding.

Your conveyancer will undertake either a CON29DW or Regulated Water Search. While both of these will provide the main pieces of information regarding water and sewerage, there are some differences to be aware of.

Here is what to expect from the CON29DW and Regulated Water Searches:


  • Your conveyancer will gather information from the property's water company. This is done by using their official database. This ensures that the details are up-to-date and accurate.
  • The water and drainage report will also include a clear diagram that shows the location of public water assets in relation to the property. This includes the water and sewerage mains. It is colour-coded, making it clear for the buyer to understand.
  • The CON29DW also includes information regarding the water meter and billing. There will be details on property developments in accordance with the Section 104 Adoption Agreements. The report highlights Building-Over agreements and sewage treatment works that are in place.
  • The CON29DW is fully covered by insurance. This means any errors encountered in the search will be the water company’s responsibility financially. You will not have to pay any extra fees if mistakes occur.

Regulated Water Search

  • The Regulated Water Search takes information from the technical and asset database. This means that the information provided should be up-to-date.
  • There will also be details on any Building-Over and Adoption Agreements and potential new developments. This means that you can see how the property’s water and sewerage systems have been or will be affected.
  • You’ll also receive details on metering and billing within the report, allowing you to make plans on how your water use is regulated.
  • Since your conveyancer will use public records to collect information, the costs for the search are the same nationwide. This makes it a cost-effective option and allows you to have more control of your budget compared to the CON29DW.
  • While the CON29DW has complete and unlimited coverage, the Regulated Water Search has indemnity insurance for up to £2 million. In most instances, this should be enough to cover any errors that occur, but it is important to consider the limit.

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How Long Do Drainage Searches Take?

Water and Drainage searches take between 10-14 days on average. The amount of time your search will take is dependent on the location of the property and whether you get a CON29DW or Regulated Water Search.

The CON29DW has a faster turnaround time compared to the Regulated Water Search. This is because your conveyancer can receive all information from one source.

Water companies will provide coverage for any data errors in the CON29DW. On the other hand, you may receive coverage for Regulated Water Search errors that occur. This is dependent on the company that holds the data.

Read more on How Long Do Conveyancing Searches Take?

Are They Compulsory Searches?

Conveyancing searches are a legal requirement when buying with a mortgage. Failure to have searches carried out may mean that your mortgage lender will withdraw your mortgage offer.

If you are buying a property without a mortgage, the water and drainage search is not compulsory. However, it is highly recommended to have the CON29DW carried out. It will highlight any issues that may be extremely costly further down the line.

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How Much Does a Drainage and Water Search Cost?

The Water and Drainage search costs between £50-£100 on average. The cost is dependent on the property’s location and whether you are purchasing a CON29DW or a regulated water and drainage search.

It’s important to note that the initial quote for the search may not include VAT, so always make sure beforehand.

CON29DW vs Regulated Water Search

The CON29DW can be purchased for properties in England and Wales. Information is provided by the local water company operating in the area. As the more traditional and comprehensive option, it is often more expensive on average.

The water companies differ from region to region and are as follows:

RegionWater Company
East of EnglandAnglian Water
East MidlandsSevern Trent Water
Greater LondonThames Water
North East EnglandNorthumbrian Water
North West EnglandUnited Utilities
South East EnglandSouthern Water
South West EnglandSouth West Water
West MidlandsSevern Trent Water

Yorkshire and the Humber

Yorkshire Water
WalesWelsh Water

Regulated Water Search

This is a newer and cheaper option that is ideal for those moving to a location that has low risk. Your conveyancer will inspect public sewer and water records that are available under the Water Industry Act (1991).

Since the information is sourced from public records, these searches are most likely to have a fixed price. This is because the company has more control over the price structure.

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Water and Drainage Search in Scotland

The conveyancing process in Scotland has some significant differences from the rest of the UK. However, the conveyancing search stage is identical. Your conveyancing solicitor will arrange and conduct these searches.

The average cost for property searches in Scotland is between £100 and £200. This cost includes the Water and Drainage Search.

Your conveyancer will collect information from Scottish Water’s database. This database holds information for all of Scotland.

Read more on A Guide to Conveyancing in Scotland

How Long Does it Last?

The Drainage and Water Search results last for 6 months once the search has been conducted. This means you must complete your transaction within this timeframe. If there are delays that cause the search to expire, you will have to pay for a new search to be conducted.

Following your conveyancing searches, it takes an average of 1-3 weeks to exchange contracts. At this time, the searches will be reviewed and approved beforehand. You can also raise any queries if you have concerns.

Read more about How Long After Searches to Exchange?

What Other Searches Do I Need When Buying a House?

The other main searches include the Local Authority Search, Environmental Search, and Title Search. These searches will be carried out in all instances.

There may be additional searches required in certain circumstances. This includes the Mining Search for those buying a house in a mining area and the Chancel Repair Liability Search for properties located near churches.

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Finding a Conveyancer

Compare My Move can connect you with up to 6 conveyancers operating in your area. Fill out our conveyancing comparison form to compare quotes. You can choose the right company for you and potentially save up to 70% on your conveyancing costs.

Our conveyancing partners must pass a verification process before they are accepted onto our network. This includes proving that they are regulated by one of the following regulatory bodies:

  • Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
  • Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC)
  • Law Society of Scotland (LSS)
  • Law Society of Northern Ireland (LSNI)
  • Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX)

You can also find a conveyancer by asking friends and family for recommendations if they have recently moved house. In these cases, make sure you research the firm thoroughly and read any online reviews.

Nicola Ryan

Written by Nicola Ryan

Nicola focusses on all things moving house at Compare My Move where she writes articles for the advice centre, guiding users through everything they need to know about moving house.

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