Do I need building regulations for a soakaway?
Soakaways are traditional methods of getting rid of excess surface water.
As installing a soakaway becomes a common solution, more people are beginning to ask the question; ‘Do I need building regulations for a soakaway?’
What are building regulations?
Building regulations are rules and codes that dictate the design, construction, alteration, repair or use of buildings and installation of equipment.
They are implemented by relevant bodies, like the Environment Agency, to guarantee the safety and wellbeing of people around (and inside) that building.
Soakaway regulations in the UK are part of building regulations, and they are put in place to ensure people are protected from excess water and surrounding buildings are kept safe.
Soakaways and building regulations: The basics
Although building regulations can vary according to the different types of buildings, there are specific rules that people need follow to comply with soakaway building regulations in the UK.
The general consensus regarding soakaways is they should not be built on unstable ground, near contaminated soil, or close to a landfill site.
However, there are always new soakaway regulations being introduced which means the soakaway building regulations are getting stricter.
Circumstances requiring building regulations for soakaways
First, soakaway building regulations in the UK demand a proper permit from an Environment Agency.
In fact, you cannot start planning the design of your soakaway until you get one as this would be deemed illegal. It is a handy document to have because it outlines clearly the rules that you must adhere to when planning to build a soakaway.
For example, a soakaway must be installed at least five metres away from a building. This rule is in place to minimise damage that could be caused to the foundations of a building. This applies to domestic and commercial soakaways. Furthermore, they must also be at least two and a half metres away from a boundary, and they must be constructed with plastic crates.
To be approved, a soakaway drain must also be installed in an aerobic soil layer. This means that it must be built at least seven meters from any habitable part of the property. In addition, it must be located at least 50 metres from a borehole.
You should also ensure that the soil is at least 300mm deep. It should also be able to soak up water for a minimum period of 10 minutes.
The soil should also have the ability be replenished up to 10 times or the soakaway may be rejected.
Exemptions and exceptions
There are a number of exemptions and exceptions to soakaway building regulations.
For example, you do not require building regulations approval for projects such as repairs, replacements and maintenance work with the exception of heating systems, oil tanks, fuse boxes and glazing units.
Furthermore, it could be possible to install a soakaway at a closer distance if you use specific materials such as perforated pipes, soakaway trenches, or soakaway pits.
If you are considering this, it is wise to reach out to an expert for clarification.
Compliance and benefits of building regulations
Complying with building regulations can help to reduce the risk of disastrous events, like foundations buckling under pressure and buildings succumbing to their local environmental conditions, by ensuring structures are strong and able to cope with even extreme conditions.
It also helps to protect workers and inhabitants from hazards like asbestos exposure and debris that is catapulting towards them.
Navigating the approval process
Navigating the approval process can be difficult if you don’t know where to start. However, there are several manuals that are incredibly informative when it comes to soakaway building regulations.
The best way to ensure you are complying is to reach out to someone who has experience in the planning, designing and construction of soakaways as they will be able to give you the best advice.
Seeking professional guidance
If you are considering installing a soakaway, OMDI can guide you through the entire process, from ensuring you have the necessary permits and permissions to walking you through how to go about designing it.
Our years of experience in the field of off-mains drainage has allowed us to build up an impressive catalogue of installations for both commercial and domestic properties throughout the UK.