Whether you utilize a professional inspector when buying properties or simply rely on your own walkthrough, you can’t possibly know everything about the building at first glance. Unless you are from the Planet Krypton, you can’t discern the condition of the sewer lateral without taking additional steps.
Hiring a professional to send a scope through the lateral under the building and in the yard is the only way to truly know what you are in for. In all the deals I been through, I would say that about one-third of the buyers in any given deal have this inspection.
Most of the buildings in St. Louis are quite old with sewer systems being a mix of cast iron under the basement floor and clay in the yard. Many times when you have a sewer backup, hardened grease or fibrous tree roots are to blame. Sometimes, however, cracks or cave-ins along the line are to blame.
The cautious side of me says that you should always have a sewer scope performed. Even if you are willing to live with any issues found during the inspection, it is always good to know what you have to work with. Significant hairline cracks throughout the line are probably a good indicator that you should start preparing to do some work on the line. Collected grease would indicate that a hot water flush is in order. There are so many things you can encounter. The key is that you need to know where you stand.
At the say time, I know in the real world environment we all tend to procrastinate or simply shrug off the possibly of a problem. This is especially common with foreclosure properties. If you never have one done you could probably go quite long time without running into any issues. Maybe even indefinitely. The trouble is that just never know. Since a total lateral replacement can run over $10,000, the cost of being wrong can be quite expensive.
Knowing that many of you probably won’t do a sewer scope for most deals, let me just say this: If there is any sign of recent or past sewer backups, GET AN INSPECTION!. The backup could be easy to fix, but the chances are just too high that there could be something more major wrong. A $175 inspection is well worth it.