Aside from an inspection, a sewer scope is the next most important inspection you can do when purchasing a home. Often forgotten about or not brought up in other parts of the States, sewer scopes are crucial in Seattle.
What is a sewer scope?
A sewer scope is when a line is sent down the sewer pipe of the home all the way to the main sewage line of the city. On the end of the line is a recording camera. With that camera, sewer inspectors can tell you the condition of the sewer line. Since using the bathroom is a necessity, the condition of the line is crucial to the livability of the home. If the line is cracked, has holes, root intrusion, or has offsets between sections, it could make it so that using the bathroom is going to cause the waste to back up and make going to the bathroom, taking a shower, washing hands, etc., not an option.
Knowing the condition of the line can help buyers make educated decisions when deciding to write an offer on a home. This is particularly important when it is a multiple offer situation.
A couple decides to purchase a home and they only have so much cash to work with and need to strategically use it in their offer. The home is built in the 40’s and they opt to not do a sewer scope. Their offer is selected and they decide to do a sewer scope after they move in. Turns out there has been no work done since the 40’s and there is a major offset between pieces and a hole. Assuming it is a normal situation, it could easily cost $20,000+ to redo the entire line. A $20,000 expense after spending everything to get the house is a tough pill to swallow and can put the new homeowners in a financial bind.
Spending the typical $250-$300 on the scope can easily save you from finding out about a $20,000 fix that needs to be done immediately. In the example, had these buyer’s known the condition of the line, they could have written their offer differently considering the money it would take to fix the line. I always recommend a scope if you have the option. Sometimes sellers do a scope themselves and ask buyer to not do one in order to keep buyers from potentially damaging the line. If the seller is not allowing buyers to do a scope, ask if you can see the scope they did. The more informed you can be, the better off you will be down the line!