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Drainlaying is the unseen branch of the industry as when complete, there is little to see of the existence of the drains that service buildings. Drainlaying includes the removal of the foul (waste) water from a building and its delivery to territorial authority sewerage lines. Drainlaying also includes the installation of foul water treatment systems including septic tanks and other on-site systems.

In addition, drainlaying covers the installation of most stormwater (rain water) disposal systems. Stormwater disposal systems must convey unwanted rainwater to territorial authority stormwater drains or other outlets, without causing flooding or erosion which can lead to landslips and other damage.

The definition of Drainlaying from The Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Act 2006 is as follows:


  1. means a pipe or series of pipes constructed or laid for the conveyance of foul water, stormwater, or industrial liquid waste; but
  2. does not include
    1. a pipe or series of pipes that is vested in or under the control of or maintained by the Crown or by a local authority; or
    2. an open jointed or perforated drain for the collection and removal of ground water or a downpipe for the conveyance of water from the roof of a building

Drainlaying means-

  1. laying a drain
  2. altering, reconstructing, extending, repairing, opening-up, or renewing a drain or a fitting connected to a drain:
  3. fixing or unfixing a drain to or from a sewage tank
  4. fixing or unfixing a gully-trap or other trap in connection with a drain or sewage tank

While certain types of rainwater systems are not covered by legislation, most are, as any leak or an inadequate stormwater capacity (pipe size and/or disposal point) may result in serious flooding and property damage, or even erosion leading to building collapse.

Improper drainlaying practice may lead to blockages and a risk to public health. Leaking joints can result in contaminated ground water and/or drinking supplies, in turn providing a breeding ground for disease.

What drainlaying can an unlicensed (unqualified) person legally undertake?

There is very little work that an unqualified person is permitted to do under the Act, apart from those minor aspects of stormwater disposal mentioned above.

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