Why every homebuyer should require a sewer line inspection before closing and how to get an inspection you can trust
A home’s sewer line isn’t something most of us think much about—until the worst happens. When basements overflow and bathtubs fill with wastewater, however, a sewer line is just about the only thing a homeowner can think about until it’s fixed. There’s a reason 24-hour emergency plumbing services exist!
No one wants such a terrible surprise soon after purchasing a home. And that’s the reason why sewer line inspections exist!
Why homebuyers should insist on a sewer line inspection
Colorado is a hotbed for sewer line issues. Not only do we have certain soils that are inclined to shift, which can cause pipes to crack or become misaligned, our annual hard freeze and thaw cycle also exerts forces that can damage sewer lines. Add in common problems like tree root overgrowth and obstructions caused by anything from construction debris to a Hot Wheels car finding its way down a toilet and sewer line problems happen more often than many people think.
Unfortunately, sewer line repairs can get expensive. The average cost in the Denver front range is $7,500 but some repair work can reach $25,000 or more.
Such expense is never welcome but it’s especially difficult for many families right after buying a home. Having shelled out for a down payment and closing costs, not to mention any immediate upgrades the home may need, many homebuyers have tapped their savings and are dealing with a tight budget. They really cannot afford unexpected repair or cleaning costs.
A sewer line inspection is a simple way to assess the functionality of the sewer line before buying a home. A requirement for a sewer line inspection can be written into the sales contract and helps increase a homebuyer’s confidence that all is well with this important part of the house.
It doesn’t matter if you’re buying a new home or an old one, a single family or a townhome, sewer line issues happen so it’s best to make closing contingent on a sewer line inspection.
Different prices, explained
If you’re already researching sewer line inspection providers, you may have noticed something about pricing. The cost of an inspection varies, sometimes by $50 or more from provider to provider.
What’s going on?
A little background. There are two types of sewer line inspection providers:
- Independent companies, like Sewer View, that only do sewer line inspections
- Plumbing and repair companies that will perform sewer line inspections and can also fix sewer line problems, clean out clogged lines, and perform other maintenance.
In many cases, a sewer line inspection from a plumbing company will cost less. Plus, it certainly sounds convenient. If there’s a problem, don’t you want to be working with a provider that can do something about it?
But here’s the catch, plumbing and repair companies cannot offer an unbiased opinion. Some of them almost always recommend cleaning, maintenance, or repair, even when unnecessary. That’s how they offer bargain basement pricing on inspections, by using them to sell more costly plumbing services.
Sadly, this is a common practice and an open secret in the industry. It’s definitely a case of “buyer beware!”
Independent sewer line inspection companies are different because they don’t have this conflict of interest. If you’re relying on a sewer line inspection to provide accurate, reliable information about the status of the line—and who isn’t?—then it’s best to choose a company that won’t benefit financially if they tell you there’s something wrong with a sewer line when, in reality, there’s not.
How to find an independent sewer line inspection company
How can you tell if a sewer line inspection provider is unbiased and independent? Just ask!
“Hi, if you do my sewer line inspection and find a problem, can your company do the maintenance or repair?”
Most providers that offer both types of service will gladly “sell you” on their ability to handle any problem they discover. And there you have it—they’re not independent. They may be a viable choice for repair or cleaning but they’re not the best option for the inspection.
Who will do the cleaning, maintenance or repair, if needed?
If a sewer line inspection does uncover a problem, you’ll likely want to work with the seller to resolve the issue before closing. Your realtor can help you with the process.
If you used an independent sewer line inspection company, you now might be wondering who will do the work. This is another area requiring research and due diligence.
Most independent inspection providers, including Sewer View, can make recommendations. Just to be clear, we don’t get any “kickbacks” on referrals. We simply know from our experience in this industry which companies we would (or wouldn’t!) use for our own home and are happy to share that information with our customers.
TL;DR? Here’s what you need to know:
- Sewer line problems happen more often than many people think.
- Every homebuyer should insist on a sewer line inspection before closing to help verify the functionality of the sewer line. A realtor can put this requirement in the contract.
- The company that performs the inspection is up to the homebuyer, not the seller.
- It’s best to choose an independent firm with no financial interest in performing repairs or maintenance service so you get an unbiased assessment.
Whether or not you choose Sewer View for your sewer line inspection, please invest in an independent evaluation before closing on any home. You’ll be glad you did. And then you can go back to not thinking about your sewer line as your sinks, toilets, tubs, and washers drain just like they should!