This week’s question comes from a real estate agent: “Are sewer inspections intrusive? Does the seller need to give special permission if you’re going to do a sewer inspection at the same time as the home inspection? Do you have to notify the seller first?”
The answers, respectively, are no, no, and no. Assuming a home inspection is taking place as part of a real estate transaction, the form used to authorize the home inspection is the “Inspection Contingency” form. I’ve blogged about this topic several times: home inspection contingency form. It’s a pretty short form, and one of the critical pieces of information contained in that form is the part about Intrusive testing and Inspections. If any intrusive testing or inspections are going to take place, the seller first needs to give permission.
Update: 8/15, 12:30 pm: I was informed that the old “Inspection Contingency” form was incorporated into the standard purchase agreement on 8/1/17. Everything else still applies.
This same document defines intrusive testing as “any testing, inspections(s), or investigation(s) that changes the property from its original condition or otherwise damages the property”. A sewer inspection does not change a property from its original condition, nor does it damage the property. Here’s a quick little video that demonstrates the sewer inspection process.
Every once in a while, the sewer plug will get damaged in the process of removal or replacement. When that happens, Sewer Joe simply replaces the old plug with a new one. Easy peasy.
Why ask us about sewer inspections?
This question came up because my company offers sewer inspection as an add-on service to our home inspections. We were the first home inspection company in the Twin Cities to offer sewer inspections, and the response has been phenomenal. I expect sewer inspections to become standard practice within the next five years here, much the same way that radon testing has become standard practice.
If you’re buying a used house, it’s wise to have a sewer inspection completed at the same time as the home inspection. While newer homes have a much lower potential for sewer problems, they’re not immune to major issues. Here are a few video clips of failed sewer inspections, interesting finds, and some encounters with sewer rats at the end. Don’t miss those. Enjoy.