Can you find the $5000 Repair in this picture?
Updated: Jan 4, 2020
Last week I did an inspection for a client who was using Precision Home Inspection for the 2nd time in two weeks. The first deal fell through, which isn't all that unusual after an inspection. But in this case I knew that it could only mean one thing: I saved that buyer thousands.
To explain, let me rewind to the first inspection. The inspection was going really well. Solid foundation, newer HVAC, new water heater, the roof was in good shape and the electrical had been recently updated. There were the normal assortment of minor issues, but no big red flags.
As I walked around the exterior, I looked at the curb and saw a depression in the sidewalk.
A second look revealed another depression in the front lawn. Drawing a line between the two points, I saw a third smaller hole in the lawn. This was a bit concerning.
Because I know Philadelphia, I know that problems with incoming water laterals (the supply pipe that runs underground from the main to the front wall of your home) and/or buried sewer pipes often plague entire neighborhoods. Looking down the street, I saw the telltale rectangular asphalt patchwork in the street in front of about 50 percent of the homes. Sagging concrete sidewalks or newer blocks of concrete were present in front of almost every home.
Bad news - these are the hallmarks of underground plumbing problems. Taking the covers off the curb vents revealed some recently installed PVC pipes (someone did a repair that wasn't disclosed).
Putting all these clues together, I told the client I suspected a problem with his buried sewer pipe. So, we recommended a video sewer pipe inspection to determine the nature and severity of the problem. The video inspection costs about $300, but digging up and replacing a sewer pipe can cost $5000 or more, so it is well worth the expense.
At this point, the "helpful" owner who had been tagging along offered his two cents: "No, that's an animal that was burrowing there." Um, yeah....not likely.
Back to yesterday. The client told me that he did get the video sewer inspection, and it turned up problems that the plumber estimated would cost $4,000-6,000 to correct. Of course, the first thing we checked was the curb and street in front of the home (they were fine), and - like every client - we gave him the reassurance of our new SewerGard coverage which gives buyers warranty protection against precisely this issue.
So to recap, protect yourself by hiring an inspector who:
1) Really knows the area and knows inherent neighborhood problems
2) Gives you the additional protection of FREE Warranties to cover you against the unseen and unexpected and
3) Has the experience to identify small clues that point to bigger problems lurking below
Because (to paraphrase the old Head & Shoulders commercial) that little ditch should be telling you something.
PRECISION HOME INSPECTION
Philadelphia's Preferred Home Inspector