Buying a house with a borehole

If you’re buying a house in a rural area, it’s not unusual for there to be a borehole on the property. Often considered a selling point, it enables you to supply the property with its own water supply and save money on your water bills as well as improving the low water pressure and poor water quality that can sometimes occur in old or rural homes.

By buying a house with a pre-existing borehole, you gain the benefits of a borehole without the process of installing one. Nevertheless, to ensure that your borehole is safe and sustainable to use, it’s best to speak with a professional who will be able to highlight any issues.

Before you purchase a house with a borehole, speak to the team at Dragon Drilling. We recommend that you speak to the current homeowners and get the answers to as many questions as you can. It’s important to know:


Boreholes are deemed an illegal supply if they’re unregistered with the British Geological Society (BGS). The drillers that installed the borehole should provide details of the depth, geology type, water strike levels, water yields and details of the casing installed. If you’re not sure about the registration status of the borehole in your new home, it can be looked up using the GeoIndex on the BGS website.

Frequency of use

If possible, find out from the current owners whether or not they use their borehole frequently. If left unused for a long time boreholes can become full of silt, which can lead to damage in the pump and surface equipment. The Dragon Drilling team would recommend using a camera survey to investigate the condition of the borehole and, if necessary, carry out an airlift to clear any build-up within the borehole.

Condition of the distribution system

Just like other household systems, such as boilers, a water borehole distribution system needs to be maintained and serviced annually. Most importantly we would recommend checking the expiry date of the UV steriliser bulb, which has a 12 month lifespan, and the condition of the filters. If the bulb is expired or the filters blocked by sediment, the water may not be safe to drink. The best course of action if you are not sure when the most recent service was is to carry out a full system service to ensure that the distribution system is operating safely.

Water testing

It’s recommended that water is tested every two years for domestic properties, and required by regulatory standards to have an annual test on water that will be supplied to the general public. This is because the chemistry of the water could have changed, and it’s important to ensure it has remained safe. If it’s unclear when the most recent test was, it’s safest to get one done.

Water Treatments

It’s not uncommon to find contaminants in borehole water; manganese and iron are often present, but easily treated. You’ll need to check that any treatments are still present and properly installed, as well as to make sure that they are set to self-clean themselves regularly. Some will need salt adding to them, similar to a dishwasher, so if there is a salt bin you should look to see that it has salt inside.


Boreholes that are needed for usage of more than 20,000 litres per day require an abstraction licence. If you are purchasing a domestic borehole it’s unlikely that you will need a licence, however it is worth checking that there isn’t already a licence in place, or you don’t need one. If you’re buying a farm, hotel, or a business that will be using a lot of water then obtain a licence from the Environment Agency (EA), Natural Resources Wales (NRW) or The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) depending which country you are in.

Buying a home with a borehole offers a great opportunity to access your own high quality water supply without any significant cost. Nevertheless, to save yourself potential costs in the future, it’s best to have a professional survey to make sure that the water and borehole itself are safe. If you’re hoping to use the borehole to supply your home with water, an annual service to maintain it is vital. This lowers the risk of a more expensive, or even dangerous, issue from arising in the future.

To ask an expert about your specific needs, speak to Dragon Drilling. We’ll be happy to assist you in ensuring that your home purchase includes a safe, well-maintained borehole.


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