Denver Home Buyer Tips
Pictographs left by ancient residents have given us clues as to what life was like on earth many years ago. Through pictures we can identify the objects before there was a written word.
Notice the green arrow? It’s actually marking the spot where the sewer line from the house to the city main is broken.
How do I know?
Because I watched with interest (and both my fingers crossed) as a plumber ran a video scope from the interior sewer access to the street.
It sounds rather gross, but really it isn’t all that bad. You get to see the inside of a pipe and water rushing by. Cracks and clogs are plainly visible and recorded on a DVD for future viewing. Some sewer scope companies even provide popcorn with their movies! Although watching a sewer scope movie while eating popcorn has little appeal to me.
Sewer scope inspections have become an important part of the home inspection process. It is a part of the house that seldom a seller gives a second thought to, until there is a problem. Most plumbers will tell you breaks in the line are common. Some exist for many months or even years before they are discovered. When they do backup, the outcome is not very pleasant.
As a homeowner, you are responsible for the condition of your sewer line from the interior of your home to where it connects to the city’s main line. Usually that is in the middle of the street or an alley, which is also made of concrete or blacktop.
That means when there is a problem the resolution entails digging; digging deep and digging through a hard surface. I’m sure you know, digging doesn’t come cheap these days!
On this inspection we had a double surprise. First we discovered there was a very significant hole in the line that was also eroding away the dirt supporting the line. It would just be a matter of time before the occupant of the house had a rather odorous alert.
The second surprise came when we learned the sewer at that point of the street was over 20 feet deep! Normal or should I say average depth is seldom that deep, usually 8-10 feet is more like it.
The depth of the repair caused the cost to skyrocket. It would mean extra time, additional safety procedures, more fill, etc. Bottom line the bids came in ranging from $15,250 to $24,900!
Disappointment surrounded us when we realized how bad the situation was. The buyer (my client) was not about to take on such a huge repair. He was already paying full appraised value for the home, which needed a significant amount of repairs, despite the “remodeled” sign rider advertising the opposite. (that’s another post)
The responsibility to repair was put back on the owner of the home.
At this point my client had invested a significant amount in doing a home inspection. We ended up resolving the issue and closing the transaction, but we also could have walked.
In fact two weeks ago with another client we walked away from a Bank Owned “as is” property for the very same reason.
That plumber also left a pictograph of the problem in the street.
I only hope the next buyer looks for the clue we left behind. When he finds it, he asks all the right questions before he finds out the seller is refusing to repair and he’s out $400 or $500 or more.
Today’s buyers need to take a lesson from history, look in the street for plumber pictographs. I know there are a legion of buyer’s agents who are helping clients walk away from bad deals. Don’t be fooled by a seller who fails to disclose a defect.
Yes, failure to disclose a known defect is against the law.
About the Author
Kristal has been helping buyers and sellers in Colorado since 1984. She enjoys sharing her knowledge of the Metro Denver Real Estate market via blogging and in person while driving around the beautiful Rocky Mountain town of Denver! For fun, Kristal enjoys shooting things with a Canon. Visit Denver Photo Blog