The Importance of a Main Sewer Line Inspection

Real Estate Broker/Owner


I  had a Buyer who was extremely upset that I was insisting that he have a Private Home inspection. This was a mid-50’s brick ranch, pretty well cared for in a nice neighborhood, but vacant and no one had lived there for a long time. The inspector that I referred to him was going to cost $375. I also insisted that he have the sewer line inspected (this is the MAIN line that goes from your home to the sewer, and when it goes, it goes without warning and you could be ankle deep in raw sewage!)  That inspection was to cost him another $125. 

We had found the home pretty quickly. We’d only seen maybe 5 homes prior to writing and getting an accepted offer. Being aware of how most people feel about real estate agents, besides getting his offer accepted, I really hadn’t done much to make him trust me. I could truly understand his balking at this price, and he later admitted that he felt maybe I was getting some kind of kick-back from these third parties. 

The day of the inspection came and he was still brewing. The Private Inspection took about 3 hours to complete, and in the end he learned everything he ever AND never wanted to know about this home. Knowing that there is no such thing as a ‘perfect house’ it went very well, and he had a nice binder with pictures and the findings computer generated right there at the home, along with lots of other useful information and a pdf copy of the report. We waited about 30 more minutes for the plumber to show up with his sewer line camera. The tardiness of the plumber wasn’t sitting well and he was STILL scoffing about the price. 

We followed the plumber to the basement and watched as he set up his equipment. He had one of the nicest, full color video screens I had ever seen, and he popped in a DVD just as we began. I stood in the background as I watched my Buyer watch the screen, sighing with his arms crossed. Just as the camera was leaving the home and entering the clay pipe, we already saw a huge crack. As the camera trailed through the clay pipe, there were tree roots, large sediment build up on the interior of the pipe, cracks and pieces of pipe shattered. We weren’t out from the house 2’ and the line was collapsed. 

The plumber was talking to my Buyer as he did this inspection, pointing to the screen and showing him step-by-step what the Buyer was actually seeing. As we wrapped up the inspection, my Buyer looked at me and said, ‘So, now what? I guess I’m not buying this house!’ I said, ‘Well, wait a minute. There are several options we can talk about now…’

As I took him through the list of options, and knowing how much he loved this home, we finally negotiated a repair with the seller, which ended up costing the seller about 5k, but in the long run, I knew that my Buyer was getting a great home! With a NEW sewer pipe! And his $ 125 SAVED HIM $5,000!

Every person buying home built before 1980 should have this inspection done. It doesn’t matter to me if you see a nice, white PVC pipe sticking out from the ground. It could just be a piece of pipe with a cap (yes, I HAVE seen this). 

Never, ever assume the things that you cannot see are not an issue. Your Private Inspection will (or should) draw out everything that can be seen. Other inspections are for the things that you cannot see, and the $125 it costs for a sewer camera (more or less, depending on where you live) can literally save your client THOUSANDS of dollars.

And so my Buyer did smile, hug me and thanked me at the end of the inspection. He apologized and said, ‘I guess it feels good to be right, huh?’ and I said, ‘It’s not about that. It feels good knowing that I have earned your trust, that you are getting a great home and hopefully I will earn your referrals.’ 

I have been working with his referrals ever since…


This information is owned by Shannon Hall. Any duplication is illegal.  If you would like my permission to duplicate, please ask me. 



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