This guide describes what is involved with making new connection to a property and how customers can arrange for these to take place.

There are a number of scenarios where customers may require a new connection, including:

  • Building a new home
  • Building a commercial property
  • Renovating a house
  • Replacing or renewing an existing supply
  • Installing an agricultural trough
  • Building a block of flats/ apartments
  • Developing a new site

What is involved in making new connections?

If a consumer needs a new water supply or access to the sewerage network, they will have to ask for some or all of the following:

  • A supply pipe connection between the property and the nearest water main. Generally speaking, it is the customer’s responsibility to lay the section of the pipe up to the boundary with the street.
  • A drainage pipe between the property and the nearest sewer;
  • A water main;
  • A sewer.

In the first instance, customers should ask their companies about new connection work. They may also ask a retailer to organise the connection on their behalf but CCW is not aware of any retailers that have organised connections.

The nature of the work needed to make these connections, and the cost of that work, will vary widely, depending on the customer and the property/ies that need to be connected.

Individual or very small-scale developers requiring connection(s) to a house or a small number of houses:

  • Typically, most of these customers will only need the water supply pipe and drainage pipe connections and not a new water main or sewer.
  • A small number of customers, especially those in more remote areas a long way from water company infrastructure, may have to have a new water main or sewer installed so that their connections can be made.
  • This work may be unsurfaced ground (for example, a field). However, it is more likely to be in surfaced (or metalled) roads, in which case the customer will need to pay for traffic management and for reinstatement of the surface. This can increase costs significantly.

Small, medium or large-scale developers making connections on ‘new build’ sites:

  • Typically, this work involves making multiple connections to a larger number of houses on ‘new build’ sites.
  • Where there are several hundred connections needed, the work is likely to be phased, as is the house-building itself.
  • These connections are mostly likely to be in unmade ground, needing no reinstatement.
  • Most of these jobs will require the installation of a new water main or sewer. These are most likely to be on-site but there may also need to be off-site enhancement of the network. These sewerage services go in first.

Who carries out the work?

Customers can generally choose their own contractor to carry out sewerage connections or to install new sewers [1], unless there are technical reasons why the company wants to insist on doing the work. Customers should ask their sewerage company for more information.

Water connections will generally be carried out as follows:

Individual household customers and very small-scale developers:

If customers want to use an independent contractor to install water pipes, they have to find one that is accredited to do the work [2] but these contractors are unlikely to be attracted to small jobs.

This means that, in most cases, individual household customers or very small-scale developers may only be able to ask the water company to do the work. This is especially the case if they need average-sized connections to the nearest water main, which is usually in the highway.

If the connection is longer, for example if it goes through fields, then there is more scope for customers to look for contractors to carry out work. They may find an accredited contractor who is willing to do the job, or they might be able to employ a non-accredited contractor to carry out the excavation only. In the latter case, the company will insist on making the connection to the actual main and possibly laying the pipe in the pre-excavated trench.

Small, medium or large-scale developers on development sites

If the connections are technically complex, for example connecting to strategic water mains or sewers, then the water company is likely to insist on carrying part or all of the work. In most cases, however, developers on development sites will be able to choose from the following:

  • The water company, who will provide a competitive quote.
  • An accredited self-lay provider (SLP) – this is a contractor who will carry out the work on behalf of the developer.
  • A new appointee – this is a small water company who will carry out the work and then take over responsibility for providing services to the site.

What does applying for a New Connection involve?

Customers should ask their water company for more information about how to get a new connection. Most water companies have information on their websites setting out how customers can apply for a new connection and obtain a quote.

  • If a new connection is necessary, customers will have to complete an application form, which can be obtained from their water company.
  • Ordinarily a survey will be carried out. This will normally be a desktop survey where the company will call the applicant to discuss their requirements. Customers can request a site meeting, but the water company may charge for this visit.
  • Once the water company receives the application, they will send a quotation out to the customer.
  • The quotation will be based on the information provided in the application and subsequent discussion/s. If the requirements for the work change, the companies are entitled to amend this quotation.
  • For multiple connections on development sites, the quotation will cover a large number of connections at the same time and the developer will need to be ready at the time of the agreed appointment to avoid additional charges.
  • Companies’ quotations will only be valid for a certain length of time that will vary from company to company and the customer should clarify this when applying.
  • The customer will need to lay the external pipework from the property to the boundary or as otherwise advised by their water company.
  • The water company may attend the site to inspect the pipework. If new houses are being built, they may also want to inspect fixtures and fittings (known as byelaws inspections).
  • Once the company is satisfied about the standard of work, they will make the connection. This is likely to be soon after the inspection but could take up to three months to complete, for example if permits are required to close the road.
  • Once the connection is made, the water company, self-lay organisation or contractor should reinstate the excavated area.
  • A further inspection may be carried out and a meter can be fitted at this point.

What can a water company charge for a new water connection?

The costs that the company can charge are as follows:

  • Costs of any physical work that it does to provide the actual connection. This charge will typically be based on the length of the connection between the existing main (or sewer) and the point of connection and will cover the costs of excavation, and reinstatement of the surface once the work has been done. Reinstatement costs vary, depending on the surface type. For example, digging up and reinstating a road is more difficult and costly than excavating and reinstating a grass verge.
  • Costs of installing a new water main or sewer. If the customer has asked for a new water main or sewer (known as requisitioning) the company will also charge for any work it does to provide these.
  • Administrative costs incurred in process an application for a new connection.
  • Inspection costs.
  • Other costs that may be incurred in the process of providing the connection such as traffic management.or reinstatement.

In addition to this, companies are entitled to levy water and sewerage infrastructure charges for each new service connection. These charges are intended to cover the costs of enhancing the network to meet the demand on services from the new property/properties.

The legislation covering new connection charges is not the same across England and Wales. In England, companies have to follow Ofwat’s Charging Rules for New Connection Services. Charging Rules for companies in Wales will be in place from April 2022.

Each water company publishes new connection charging arrangements, which can be found on their websites. These arrangements set out the charges for a new connection.

Reasons why charges can vary from case-to-case

There are lots of reasons why connection charges may vary, including:

  • Traffic management costs vary significantly across England and Wales. However, the cost of this work is set by the local authority, so water companies have no say in the level of charges arising.
  • If a connection is in contaminated ground, there will be an additional cost of barrier piping to protect the water supply pipes from chemicals.
  • Individual applicants asking for only one or two connections, as a one-off job, may need more ‘hands-on’ care from the company as they are not as experienced in this field as developers on building sites who ask for connections all the time. Companies may reflect this in their charges.

In summer 2020, Ofwat consulted on how to ensure that companies provide clear information and that their charges for new connections reflect actual costs. Ofwat is currently considering the responses to this consultation, with a view to amending its Charging Rules for New Connection Services from April 2022.

[1] The contractors will have to comply with standards in the most current version of Sewers for Adoption.

[2] Lloyds Register runs the accreditation scheme for self-lay providers, and the Lloyds Register website has further information about finding the accredited contractors.