Fences & Flowers

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Buyers & Sellers: Watch Out For This Money Pit

May 23, 2013

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As a Realtor working with buyers, we talk about the importance of home inspections, home warranties, property title, neighborhood review, and school reviews, but most Realtors fail to recommend targeted inspections for specific high ticket items.

The sewer scoping problem

Depending on your city or county jurisdiction, a home with a water well or septic system needs to go through proper standard evaluation. One of those items you should consider during the inspection timeframe is scoping the sewer line from your home to the city or county sewer main.

For all the sewer line scoping I have recommended, it seems 1 out of 3 homes have some sort of issue. As a general practice for myself, if the home was built before 1970 I always recommend a sewer scope of the sewer line.

I have heard stories in the past where new construction homes had sewer lines not completed and the home owners found out the hard way. Eventual it may become normal practice for every home to have the sewer scope completed.

Choosing a sewer scoping company

  • When choosing a sewer scoping company, do some research and check their reviews and licenses via city, state, or county sites.
  • Ask for references if they are willing to give them. Companies range in price with different agendas, so make sure you get pricing from more than one vendor.
  • I prefer companies that do sewer scoping ONLY. These companies don’t have any vested interest in selling your work orders if they find an issue.
  • Choose a company that provides a written invoice and a recorded DVD for your records. If they don’t provide these items, more than likely they are not willing to stand by their recommendations. The DVD also comes in very handy during negotiations and/or clearing any concerns between the buyer and seller.

Watch out for costly money pitfalls

I’ve heard many horror stories where plumbing companies do sewer scoping just to find problems. I personally experienced it this year.

During a sale, where I represented the seller, the buyer hired a sewer scope via a plumbing company. They requested the seller to replace the under ground sewer line stating it was broken. The buyers submitted a bid from the plumbing company for over $10,000, not including the floor repairs that would need to be done after the repair. We asked for the video file on the scope, which they could not produce due to their policy not to record such scoping.

Some companies do not like to give the video since it could be questioned or shopped around for pricing. Our problem was fixed when the seller hired an independent company that specialized only in scoping. No problems were found and we had documented proof to share with the buyer. This transaction closed without any costly or unwarranted work in regards to the sewer line.

Hiring the wrong company can terminate a deal for the wrong reasons, so make sure you do the proper research when looking for a company. Like any inspection, we go into them hoping nothing is wrong, but it’s better to find out the issues prior to spending hard earned money on a lifelong investment, your home!

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