Within in the last decade having a sewer lateral inspection has become standard during the home buying and selling process. Many Bay Area cities require that a sewer line be in compliance, (working order, not made out of terracotta and having no major cracks) prior to close of escrow. Oakland and Piedmont, cities that currently do not have this ordinance soon will. Since homeowners are responsible for their sewer lines until it connects to the city main; home buyers want to know the condition of the sewer line before they buy a home. Depending upon your property, a sewer line can cost anywhere from $3000 to over $10,000 to replace. I recently found out that if I need to replace my sewer line in the future, I could not do it in a trench-less fashion. (Trench-less sewer replacement is when a a plastic material is inserted into your existing sewer-line.) Jason, from Harry Clark, told me that my lot has no slope to insert the plastic, so my concrete walk-way will need to be removed and the old sewer line dug up to make this improvement. Exterior Clean-outs: Some homes do not have an exterior clean out. (sewer clean outs are often situated near the house, providing a point of access.) What does it mean to have an exterior clean-out? 1. If your sewer line backs up, it will typically back sewage into your home. Possibly through the shower or laundry sink. This can be a gross mess to clean up! 2. Often sewer-lines have many bends and turns, so without a clean-out it is often difficult to video and examine a sewer-line. The cost to install an exterior clean- out is typically under $1000.
I recently represented a buyer as she purchased a home in the Redwood Heights district of Oakland. There was no clean-out at the property in question, so there was no way to view the entire sewer line without installing a clean-out. My client decided that she was definitely going to purchase the property, so she was willing to invest the $885 into installing the clean out before close of escrow. (We had to obtain the permission of the seller first.) Once the clean-out was installed the line was able to be scoped and videoed, and it was determined that the line was made of terracotta and it was in satisfactory condition. My client also understood that there was no need to replace the sewer-line as it was in good shape, but if she sells her house in the future and the line will need to be replaced as Oakland will soon have a sewer line ordinance passed. (requiring that all clay/terracotta be removed.)
At the end of the day, it is my goal that my clients understand the overall health of their home and that includes the waste pipe. There is so much more to that flush!