If you’re planning to build over or near water or sewerage infrastructure or easements, you need to apply for approval before construction starts.  

Any work around Unitywater pipes or easements should be done with caution. Remember, you are liable for the cost of repairing any damage to water or sewer pipes.  

Here's how the approval process works


You will need to have a Building Certifier assess your proposed building work against the Queensland Development Code MP 1.4 – Building over or near relevant infrastructure. Where these conditions cannot be met, you’ll need to apply to Unitywater to allow us to assess the proposed work.

Examples where you will need to seek approval:

  • where the clearance from Unitywater infrastructure to a fence, building or other structure will be reduced to less than 1.2 metres
  • where driven piles or piers are located within 5 metres of Unitywater infrastructure
  • where any building, structure or bored excavations for piers or footings are within the zone of influence1 of Unitywater infrastructure
  • where earthworks are directly over or will affect the structural integrity of Unitywater infrastructure
  • where the vertical height to the finished surface over Unitywater infrastructure will be reduced to less than 2.4 metres.

1: DEFINITION of zone of influence: a line projected at a 45-degree angle from the invert of the sewer to the natural surface. This may be affected by factors including groundwater and soil type and must be determined by a Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland. 

Good tip:

If you're planning to put in a standard driveway over or near water or sewerage infrastructure, you do not need to apply for approval from Unitywater. (Non-standard driveways may require our approval.) However you may need approval from your local council. Search your council's website for "driveway" or "vehicle crossover" for more information. 

To apply, you’ll need the following: 

  • site plan showing all existing and proposed buildings/structures, water and sewerage infrastructure and the property connections to that infrastructure
  • statement of reasons showing which of the acceptable solution(s) from the Queensland Development Code 1.4 can’t be met and a statement of how the related performance requirement(s) within the code are achieved
  • elevation views of the proposed building work showing water and sewerage infrastructure
  • structural engineering design drawings of the footings/foundations for the proposed building work showing water and sewerage infrastructure. Please include the Form 15 Design Certificate that your structural engineer will provide.

Where an easement exists you’ll also need to provide a copy of your consent for encroachment and conditions.

Download and complete the following form:

Build Over Unitywater Infrastructure Application Form F8684 


What is an easement?

An easement is a section of land registered on a property title, which gives another party the right to use the land for a specific purpose even though they are not the land owner.

Unitywater easements give us the right to enter the easement area to install, maintain and repair water and sewerage infrastructure (read more in Section 2 of the Standard Easement Terms). It is critical that we can easily access our infrastructure, especially in an emergency. This might include using excavators, large vehicles and machinery.

Where there is a Unitywater easement on your land, you must not at any time without our permission erect any permanent buildings or structures (other than fences) upon the easement land. Property owners with Unitywater easements on their land must also make sure we can access the easements at all times.

If you want to build over an easement, you can apply for easement encroachment, however please be aware these applications are rarely approved. 

For reference:

Land acquisitions

Most of Unitywater’s infrastructure lies underneath roads. However from time to time, we may need to acquire freehold land to allow for network extensions to ensure we keep meeting our service standards. We work with landowners to acquire land in one of three ways: through a negotiated purchase, through a Resumption Agreement where the landowner consents or through compulsory acquisition. Our preference at all times is for open and respectful collaboration with landowners during an acquisition. Read more in the fact sheet.

How do I know if I have an easement on my land?

Easements can be identified by a title search from the Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

If there is an easement on your property, you need to keep any permanent construction work - except for residential driveways and fences - outside of this area.

How to apply to build over an easement 

We accept applications to build over (encroach on) easements, however we must consider each application against our current or future uses for that particular easement. Applications to build over easements are rarely approved and we recommended that you plan building works to remain outside of the easement.

Here’s what you will need to apply for easement encroachment:

  • current title search for the property this application relates to
  • easement conditions document relating to the easement over which you wish to encroach
  • a plan of the easement
  • design plans.

These documents (except for design plans) can be obtained from the Department of Natural Resources & Mines.

Then download and complete the following form: 

Application for Easement Encroachment Form (F10155)

Email the completed form along with the required documentation to realestate@unitywater.com

What can I plant?

You can plant small shrubs or trees on Unitywater easements or over our infrastructure, just make sure you select species that will not damage underground pipes.

Use the Planting Trees and Shrubs brochure as a guide.

Property owners may apply to encroach/build over an easement as long as a current title search has been done first. Please be aware these applications are rarely approved. If the easement on your property is for water or sewerage, make sure you identify the registered interest holder. Sometimes water easements belong to Seqwater, not Unitywater. See Building over EASEMENTS.

Easements can be identified by a title search from the Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

Retaining walls

Section 5 (d) of the easement terms limits the type of earthworks you can do on a Unitywater easement without our permission. Small retaining walls that do not contain any permanent (concrete or brick) footings may not need Unitywater approval. Contact us to discuss the details of your project if you're doing any work on one of our easements.

Good tip:

The property owner, not Unitywater, owns the easement land. Unitywater just has a registered interest on it.

Therefore the property owner is responsible for maintaining the easement land. For example, if you would like a tree removed from the easement land, this is your responsibility.   

Key points

Excavator digging

  • You must not at any time erect any permanent buildings or structures (other than fences) upon the easement land or obstruct or interfere with Unitywater assets or infrastructure contained in the easement land without our written permission.
  • If a building or structure is erected, placed, found or installed on the easement land in contravention of the easement terms this will be considered an encroachment and/or a breach of the easement terms.
  • Unitywater may direct you to remove the structure at your cost. If you do not remove the structure, Unitywater may remove it and you will be liable for the cost. 

Simply do the right thing by the easement terms and make sure access is clear. 

Approval for fences, driveways, sheds and other existing structures

  • You do not need to apply for easement encroachment if you are building a residential driveway over a Unitywater easement. 
  • You do not need to apply for easement encroachment if you are erecting a fence on a Unitywater easement.
  • You do need to apply for easement encroachment if you are building any other type of structure on a Unitywater easement. This includes sheds.

If in doubt, don't do any building work without the proper checks and planning.


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