Sewer Lateral: What's that? Must be tested, repaired or replaced, per the City of Alameda CA

Reblogger Mike Young
Home Inspector with, covering the USA S0289

Pacita had this great explanation showing a graphic representation of the sewer lateral that I just had to re-post it. The FHA 203k and FannieMae HomeStyle loan programs are great examples of how this issue could be addressed in order to keep your sale on track. The work can happen after the sale closes. A seller can credit the work to be done by lowering the sales price and the repair can happen with other repairs under either of these programs. M

Original content by Pacita Dimacali BRE 01367196

SEWER LATERAL  hardly a topic one wants to discuss, but a very important consideration and negotiation item (and could be pricey) when buying/selling real estate in Alameda CA.

I didn't know anything about, and still have limited knowledge of what a sewer lateral is, until I moved to Alameda CA.

  • Here, prior to sale, properties over 25 years old must have the sewer lateral tested for infiltration.
  • If it passes the test, it is certified for 5 years and need not be tested if it is re-sold during that period
  • If it fails, it must be repaired or replaced, and then re-tested
  • Replaced laterals are certified for 25 years

Whenever I show or list properties in Alameda, I have to explain to my clients that we have specific requirements pertaining to sewer lateral and gas cut off valve. Invariably, they ask, what is a sewer lateral?  


I searched for information explaining what a sewer lateral is, and the best FAQ I found is from Lake County CA's website about Sewer Lateral Cleanout.l Wish our own City of Alameda had this type of info on their website; but I'll settle for this one.

Lake County even provided a graphic explaining who's responsible for what.



Alameda Sun, a local newspaper, featured an article on "Who's Responsible?" where a homeowner was given a bid of $7000 to replace/repair a sewer lateral. When the homeowner contacted the City of Alameda, she was told that this portion of the repair is actually the City's responsibility.

In this case, a city tree's roots were found to be the cause of the damage to the lateral. According to Tim Higares, code enforcement officer for the city, if a city tree or something the city has done has caused damage to a sewer lateral, the city will do the repair.

In Alameda, there are specific testing procedures and requirements. We also have a Local Ordinance disclosure

So if someone asks me about sewer lateral, I will have this info handy!



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Melanie Narducci
Hillscape Properties, Inc. - San Francisco, CA
Your San FranciscoBay Area Real Estate Expert
Thanks for re-posting this, Mike! Pacita put together such great information here. Sewer's are an out-of-sight-out-of-mind issue until you have a problem!
May 15, 2013 01:13 AM #1
Mike Young, covering the USA - Las Vegas, NV
FHA 203k Consultant 916-758-1809

Melanie, you are absolutely correct. I'm always having to explain what it is we are talking about to my clients and it is so easy to include it in the FHA 203k or HomeStyle loan programs, close the loan and do the work afterwards.

May 15, 2013 12:31 PM #2
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Mike Young

FHA 203k Consultant 916-758-1809
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