The Importance of Inspection!
When purchasing a property in Canada, the onus is on the Buyer to seek out all knowledge and condition of the property they are purchasing otherwise known as "Caveat Emptor".
Outside of what is called a "Material Latent Defect", which the Seller is lawfully obligated to disclose, it is purely the responsibility of the Buyer.
My focus today is on the importance of a complete property inspection, and more so, the sewer line running from the property.
Recently I had a Buyer complete a property inspection for a property purchase, which is standard on any purchase. The subject property is a blended property in that it was originally a 1960's style bungalow in a great inner-city neighbourhood. The Seller’s purchased the property and subsequently developed a completely new dwelling from the top of foundation or basement up.
So, the main floor and second floor is a brand new modern development. The basement and foundation was salvaged and remains in original condition.
When conducting the inspection, the Inspector noted that the sewer line was the original cast iron drainage pipe that was running out from the house to the main City sewer system. Upon noting this, he advised that the sewer line should be inspected and scoped with video. So, subsequent to the inspection and this advisement, my client decided to go ahead with the sewer line inspection.
There was nothing that indicated that there were any issues with the sewer line, and by all accounts the drainage was working fine during the original viewings and inspection of the property. However, it didn't take long to find that there was a major issue with the sewer line leading away from the house.
The sewer line goes from cast iron to a clay pipe system that was regularly used at the time of construction on the original bungalow. As the technician was feeding the camera down the pipe, he was actually impressed and noted that the pipe was in very good condition, especially for this age of clay pipe. Every 3 or so feet there is a joint, and the first 3 were in great shape and he was mentioning to me what we are looking at and how it is supposed to look etc. And then we ran into it... at 18 feet out, something that was difficult for me to make sense of, as we had been looking at a nice perfectly formed circle from within and an ongoing black hole down the middle This, unfortunately turned into a difficult image to make sense of. It turned into what appeared to be like an image being created from broken glass. (see attached photo)
Here we could see that water was built up and no more black hole. The technician attempted to continue moving the camera down the line, but he could not penetrate the disruption. The disruption turned out to be a collapsed pipe...and herein is the issue at this point in time.
Now, we have what amounts to a pretty major issue and concern for the Buyer. This is something that if it went undetected and once moved into the property, would turn into a major problem. It would not take long for a buildup to cause a flood in the basement, damaging property that could be costly to repair. If it was not detected prior to the purchase, at that point in time it would be the Buyer's responsibility and cost to repair it.
The good news is that the Buyer and Seller were able to come to an agreement to remedy the situation with repairing and replacing the pipe at the cost of the Selling party.
It should be noted that the developer had the pipe visually inspected from the outside (no internal video scope) when they were doing construction and while the yard was excavated. There were no issues found at that time, so it is highly likely that the pipe collapsed after completion and because it wasn't used after completion of the new dwelling, there was never any backup or flooding of water on the property to indicate any existence of an issue.
Cost of the video inspection: $250.00 to $550.00
Cost to replace the sewer line: $10,000.00 to $17,000.00
Note to Buyer, be aware and complete all relevant due diligence in order to fully satisfy any concerns prior to purchase. It can save you thousands!