Last week, two clients attempted to complete sewer inspections on two different buildings and ran into unforeseen challenges. The sewer scope is an important aspect of the building
inspection, and while potentially tedious, it can save a lot of headache for both the buyer and seller. Unfortunately, it can also be a potential hassle if not properly set up in advance. Here are three tips to facilitate a successful sewer scope:
1. Have the company preview the property in advance of the sewer inspection.
Many companies just “show up”, look for cleanouts and hope for the best. Many buildings built in the 1950’s and 1960’s especially do not have readily available cleanouts, and it may be necessary to go through the roof. During an attempted inspection last week, the sewer company could not find a cleanout and decided the best way was through a roof vent. Unfortunately, their company policy is to have two crew members onsite (with a generator) for any roof work and they did not have the crew available so the inspection was canceled. If the company had prepared in advance, they would have known this
information and planned accordingly.
2. Know the electrical needs for the sewer scope.
During the same inspection, the company “demanded” access through the tenants unit for electrical access for the scope. The seller (and buyer) had no
idea this was required, and did not provide notice to any tenants. The seller denied access (understandably so) to the sewer company, and the sewer company did not bring their own generator. As a buyer, make sure to ask the question regarding electrical needs in advance of the inspection to get the seller’s permission. You never know when you will need the seller’s cooperation and “good energy” during a deal. Actually, it is a good idea for a buyer to ALWAYS assume they will need “good energy” with a seller! Plan ahead, be courteous.
3. Ensure an accurate bid for the cost of the scope.
This inspection is now more expensive due to the roof access needed, but the buyer had no idea this was even a possibility. Making sure the company views the property in advance will help defray unknown costs, and the buyer can decide how to spend the time (and money) on sewer inspections.
Also, this same company broke their camera during another building sewer line inspection, and the company had to cut a hole in the wall to retrieve their camera! Unbelievable, I have never seen this in over 200+ transactions over the years. Per the Agreement, the buyer was responsible for the cost. Make sure to get a skilled inspector (Jim Peshka at Columbia Drain Company is highly recommended by buyers).