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Buying a Home?

Check sewer and water lines first

Buying a new home is often an exciting, expensive and stressful experience. Knowing what to look for before signing the deed can protect you from a lot of stress and expense while allowing you to focus on the more exciting parts.

In today’s hot real estate market, home buyers are often forgoing home inspections to get their bids in quickly, with the goal of beating out other buyers. If buyers are skipping home inspections, you can bet they aren’t even close to considering a sewer line inspection before buying a house. This can be a very costly decision overlooking a basic rule of real estate: caveat emptor – buyer beware.

“A sewer line replacement can be a costly expense. This is why a video camera inspection is a wise decision,” says Paul Bosse, owner of Poly-B Plumbing. “Because home sellers with pre-existing conditions know the hot market is causing buyers to forgo home inspections, this is a good time for them to sell houses with sewer line issues, knowing it is unlikely a plumber will be called in to inspect their house.”

Paul says it’s critically important, before you buy a home, to call in a licensed plumber to do a camera inspection of the sewer line. “This could save the homeowner thousands and thousands of dollars if they know what is going on before they put in their offer.” For about an hour’s work and a relatively small investment, a plumber can save you anywhere from $6,000 to $25,000 on unexpected sewer line repairs.

Older homes in Orillia, Barrie and Oro Medonte are often victim to roots from trees growing through lines or simply older infrastructure that eventually breaks down and must be replaced. “We see a lot of clay tile pipe in homes built before the 1980s, as well as cast iron or orangeburg, which is basically tar paper, and even some transite which contains asbestos. With a camera we can show you what’s going on down there.”

You might be surprised to learn that it’s not only older homes with sewer line issues, but new homes are also at risk as well. “Sometimes the lines are put in place without enough bedding underneath the pipe and the water line is usually in the same trench. You have to put a lot of stone down there to keep the pipes from sagging down. Sometimes both the sewer and water lines are just left on the ground. Over time everything settles, and the trench has to be dug up and re-sloped.”

To avoid expensive surprises, taking the time for a proper home inspection, including a plumber, can make your buying experience a happy memory. “And don’t forget to add sewer insurance to your homeowners’ policy,” Paul adds.

TEXT KARI KLASSEN | PHOTOS ANDREW FEARMAN

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