Home buyers today are getting savvier about inspections and main stream issues. However, there is one inspection that is critical when considering an older home with mature landscape and that is the sewer line camera scope with a professional plumber. Those trees are beautiful and an attractive feature to any yard but what lurks below may be a maze of angry roots seeking the most obvious source of water with finger like projections-right into the sewer system.
Most buyers would not think of purchasing such a large investment without checking the structural and mechanical integrity of their future home yet what I find is that they don’t even think of taking a look at one of the most costly systems involved with the daily healthy function of their property. Tree root invasion causes loss of integrity to the sewer system providing an avenue for raw sewage to leak into the surrounding area. It also blocks the system and what can’t go forward will eventually go back up the system into the home. Roots are strong enough to break the joints making a twisted mess of what once was a pathway underground.
There are some surface hints to a tree root invasion that buyers can take note of while walking the property as pointed out by my favorite plumbing expert recently on the inspection for my buyers. Watch for areas of dipping in the landscape or water retention. Look for cracking and upheaval in the sidewalk in front of the home where the sewer line would run. This particular home had 2 sections of sidewalk recently replaced which as the plumber pointed out were significant signs that long term leakage had occurred underneath dropping the level of surface soil and causing the sidewalk to drop, crack, or bulge requiring replacement by the city.
Mature landscape attracts buyers especially those 75 foot tall deciduous trees, but for the keen eye of the Realtor it should send up red flags to add a sewer line camera scope to the list of inspections. In Colorado Springs, the home owner is responsible for the cost of replacement of the line from the home to where the line drops into the main and that includes street and sidewalk repairs. This is not always covered under the home owner’s insurance policy. The inspection cost my buyers $225 dollars but what was uncovered was gross root invasion of the system, broken joints, and current leakage into the surrounding soil and saved them on the conservative side about $15,000-$20,000 dollars in repairs according to the plumber. This is a time to have the home owner repair the system or renegotiate the contract. So what appears to be an attractive feature on the surface may be an ugly and destructive force below so make the sewer line camera scope one of the inspections on your list and don’t get caught with a hidden expense after purchase.