New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

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nobodyukno
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New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by nobodyukno »

We recently purchased a home. We did not get the sewer inspected. Within 8 days of being in the home, the basement flooded because of a backup in the sewer pipe. A plumbing company cleaned out the sewer pipe, and then 2 weeks later were able to send a camera through the sewer line to see roots destroying part of the sewer line.

The cost of digging up and replacing the line was quoted at $7k.

How much legal recourse do we have for trying to get the sellers to pay at least part of this damage? Again, we did not have the sewer inspected, but there were also no disclosures at all regarding plumbing.

I find it really hard to believe the previous owner's did not run into any issues with this as we had a backup within a week. It's not like the roots destroyed the sewer in the week we were living in the home.

We contacted our realtor who just told us to find a real estate attorney. The previous owners could simply agree to help out (would be surprised), but is there any grounds for saying they lied on the disclosures?
Jags4186
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by Jags4186 »

nobodyukno wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:14 pm We recently purchased a home. We did not get the sewer inspected. Within 8 days of being in the home, the basement flooded because of a backup in the sewer pipe. A plumbing company cleaned out the sewer pipe, and then 2 weeks later were able to send a camera through the sewer line to see roots destroying part of the sewer line.

The cost of digging up and replacing the line was quoted at $7k.

How much legal recourse do we have for trying to get the sellers to pay at least part of this damage? Again, we did not have the sewer inspected, but there were also no disclosures at all regarding plumbing.

I find it really hard to believe the previous owner's did not run into any issues with this as we had a backup within a week. It's not like the roots destroyed the sewer in the week we were living in the home.

We contacted our realtor who just told us to find a real estate attorney. The previous owners could simply agree to help out (would be surprised), but is there any grounds for saying they lied on the disclosures?
How do you propose to prove they had no issues?

How much does it cost to fix? It will cost you several thousand dollars to sue to prior owners with no guarantee of succeeding. Even if you did succeed these claims don't typically get you attorneys fees.

We purchased our house from prior owners who had lived here for 10 years. They claimed the basement never had water. A month after we moved in we had water in our basement. 2 months later we had water in our basement. 3 months later we had water in our basement.

I wanted to sue. I was told I needed a French drain to the tune of ~$8500. Except that the attorney told me that it would cost about $5,000 to sue. And additionally the rains that had caused the water in the basement were some of the strongest the area had seen in the past 10 years. It was so bad we had cars floating away from dealership lots.

In the end I found an exterior solution that cost $1900 and no digging in my basement.
Last edited by Jags4186 on Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Teague
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by Teague »

nobodyukno wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:14 pm We recently purchased a home. We did not get the sewer inspected. Within 8 days of being in the home, the basement flooded because of a backup in the sewer pipe. A plumbing company cleaned out the sewer pipe, and then 2 weeks later were able to send a camera through the sewer line to see roots destroying part of the sewer line.

The cost of digging up and replacing the line was quoted at $7k.

How much legal recourse do we have for trying to get the sellers to pay at least part of this damage? Again, we did not have the sewer inspected, but there were also no disclosures at all regarding plumbing.

I find it really hard to believe the previous owner's did not run into any issues with this as we had a backup within a week. It's not like the roots destroyed the sewer in the week we were living in the home.

We contacted our realtor who just told us to find a real estate attorney. The previous owners could simply agree to help out (would be surprised), but is there any grounds for saying they lied on the disclosures?
I doubt you'd prevail if your only evidence is your hunch that previous owners were aware of and failed to disclose the problem. But my opinion is pretty worthless as I have absolutely no expertise in this sort of thing. So that's my hunch.
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

What did the previous owner's family look like compared to yours? If they were 2 working adults, out of the house all day and you're a family with a SAHP and a few kids, I'd expected the tremendous increase in water use would bring out this problem that the previous family never saw.

I think unless you can prove that they knew it was a defect, you're out of luck. You had an inspection done? Why did they not inspect this?
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CAsage
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by CAsage »

My neighbors had this problem - a family of 5 moved into their "new" old house, and within two weeks had major sewer issues. Prior resident was one or two older people - lots more laundry, showers, flushing etc just overwhelmed the system. They may truly not have seen the problem that a new family would quickly flush out (bad pun).
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nobodyukno
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by nobodyukno »

The previous owner's were an older working couple. We are a couple with a one-year old who I wish could use toilets. I don't think water usage would be that different between us.

The home was inspected, but I don't believe having a sewer inspected is a standard part of a home inspection. It's something we would have needed to elect to have done.

The previous owner did a lot of work on the house. I know nothing about plumbing, but the plumber who came out when the issue arose commented on the "shabby" plumbing work. I'm sure if/when issues arose the previous owner dealt with them himself, but who knows how long he was patch working things.
oldfatguy
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by oldfatguy »

nobodyukno wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:14 pm
How much legal recourse do we have for trying to get the sellers to pay at least part of this damage?
I don't think you have any.

This type of thing is one of the costs of owning a home.
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Christine_NM
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by Christine_NM »

Welcome to the world of home ownership.

I've spent over $30k in the past few months on maintenance, including roof, stucco refinish and various related items, so $7k seems very little to me. If roots in the sewer is all that is wrong consider yourselves lucky.

I've lived here 10 years with only routine maintenance so even 30k is not much for 10 years of ownership. I understand that to be hit immediately with 7k on top of a new mortgage seems disastrous. But if there's no home warranty that covers the problem, you pay up.
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PoppyA
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by PoppyA »

Tell the prior owner about it and ask if they will pitch in on costs. What could it hurt?
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by anon_investor »

A $7k learning experience...
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nobodyukno
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by nobodyukno »

oldfatguy wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:34 pm
nobodyukno wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:14 pm
How much legal recourse do we have for trying to get the sellers to pay at least part of this damage?
I don't think you have any.

This type of thing is one of the costs of owning a home.
I agree it's the cost of owning a home.

Legal recourse is lying on a seller's disclosure list.

Not to mention there's a huge rodent infestation in the house as well which was never disclosed.
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by smitcat »

nobodyukno wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:14 pm We recently purchased a home. We did not get the sewer inspected. Within 8 days of being in the home, the basement flooded because of a backup in the sewer pipe. A plumbing company cleaned out the sewer pipe, and then 2 weeks later were able to send a camera through the sewer line to see roots destroying part of the sewer line.

The cost of digging up and replacing the line was quoted at $7k.

How much legal recourse do we have for trying to get the sellers to pay at least part of this damage? Again, we did not have the sewer inspected, but there were also no disclosures at all regarding plumbing.

I find it really hard to believe the previous owner's did not run into any issues with this as we had a backup within a week. It's not like the roots destroyed the sewer in the week we were living in the home.

We contacted our realtor who just told us to find a real estate attorney. The previous owners could simply agree to help out (would be surprised), but is there any grounds for saying they lied on the disclosures?

"The previous owners could simply agree to help out (would be surprised), but is there any grounds for saying they lied on the disclosures?"
What did the disclosure say exactly about sewer lines?
oldfatguy
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by oldfatguy »

nobodyukno wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:38 pm
oldfatguy wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:34 pm
nobodyukno wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:14 pm
How much legal recourse do we have for trying to get the sellers to pay at least part of this damage?
I don't think you have any.

This type of thing is one of the costs of owning a home.
I agree it's the cost of owning a home.

Legal recourse is lying on a seller's disclosure list.

Not to mention there's a huge rodent infestation in the house as well which was never disclosed.
You don't have any evidence that they lied, do you?
welldone
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by welldone »

If there was anyone to be upset with, I would think the inspector would be where your wrath should land - not finding what you term 'a huge rodent infestation' is a big red flag as to his inspector skills. Our inspector found evidence of an old pest problem in the house we bought (and we were able to get a credit towards remediating the after effects of that problem).

Other issues arose after we purchased the house (one literally the same day we closed on the house) and those we took as our responsibility. Our house = our problem.

Figure out how you want to remediate this problem, fix it and move on. You are spending way more time and energy being angry than you will ever get back from the previous owners. And quite frankly, I would be surprised if they answered you at all if you approach them for money on any of these issues. From their standpoint, you are just the random stranger who bought their old home. They don't owe you anything. The deal is done.
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by cashboy »

your home inspector should have picked up on any plumbing or pest problems (like running the water for a long time to test water flow through the sewer lines). if they did not, that is a possible first step for you as they are supposed to act on your behalf and they appear to have failed in their responsibility.
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by cableguy »

Get a second opinion on the damage and job. Did you watch the guy do the work....snake the camera...etc. Is he asking you if you have home owners insurance and telling you to run it though the insurance? I worked for a cesspool company in high school. Let's just say if you had good homeowners insurance, my boss would tell you needed a new cesspool at $7,500 when all you needed was a pump out at $300......
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by barnaclebob »

nobodyukno wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:27 pm The previous owner's were an older working couple. We are a couple with a one-year old who I wish could use toilets. I don't think water usage would be that different between us.

The home was inspected, but I don't believe having a sewer inspected is a standard part of a home inspection. It's something we would have needed to elect to have done.

The previous owner did a lot of work on the house. I know nothing about plumbing, but the plumber who came out when the issue arose commented on the "shabby" plumbing work. I'm sure if/when issues arose the previous owner dealt with them himself, but who knows how long he was patch working things.
yeah, dont waste your time trying to get money from the old owners.
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by Katietsu »

You could be right and the previous owners might have been deceptive. On the other hand, my parents were very frugal with water usage. Never had a sewage problem. Any normal couple with a one year old who did not think 5 minute showers were wasteful or use grey water to water flowers would have a sewage problem. Not sure about the pest infestation but my parents considered using mouse traps to be a normal part of rural living not a problem to disclose. So maybe a difference in perspective. If so, they are unlikely to feel there is something to reimburse you for.
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by fru-gal »

Get a second opinion on the sewer problem, then fix it. It's your house now.

I have had two houses inspected. One inspector was great and went over everything, the other was useless. However, ever the great inspector did not find a collapsed sewer line that became evident about a month later.

It's hard to believe anyone missed a major rodent infestation including you when you looked at the house. Was the house vacant a long time between when it was looked at and bought?
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by daheld »

You have zero way to prove they knowingly lied on a disclosure. In all fairness, there's absolutely a good chance they had no idea and never had any inclination there were roots in the sewer lateral. I don't know how many houses you've bought, but I would recommend ALWAYS getting a sewer inspection. Always. No matter what.

You bought a house on which an inspector noted "shoddy" plumbing. You assumed some risk in that scenario.

In terms of the repair, I would recommend exploring the possibility of cured in place/epoxy lined pipe replacement. I sold a house that, upon inspection, had tree roots in the lateral. We had ZERO issues or inclination there was a partial blockage. Anyway, we agreed to fix it. It cost $3,000 to do the cured in place pipe, and it would've been significantly more to dig out and replace as it was under a concrete walkway.
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by HomeStretch »

nobodyukno wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:38 pm Legal recourse is lying on a seller's disclosure list.

Not to mention there's a huge rodent infestation in the house as well which was never disclosed.
Get a couple of quotes and have it fixed. If you have the optional water backup and sewer coverage insurance rider, call your insurance company to see if your damage is covered.

If you have proof that the seller lied or omitted a required disclosure, a consultation with a real estate attorney is likely your best option. If not, don’t assume they did.

For the future:
1. Pay for additional inspections (septic, sewer lines, etc.) on next home purchase.
2. Add optional insurance rider noted above (it’s cheap).
3. Have a plumber check that you have a back flow / back water prevention valve installed if house is older and plumbing is shabby.
4. If you don’t already know, locate your water shutoff valves. Test that they work.
5. If you have a sump pump, check the age, have a battery backup on it, make sure it is functioning.
6. Consider adding water sensors (can be monitored if your alarm is) to key areas in house.

Best of luck. “Things” going wrong on a newly purchased home is never fun especially when it involves water.
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Watty
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by Watty »

One possibility is that if only one or two people lived in the house then they may not have been having problems, but if you now have a large family living there all the additional load may be causing problems to show up.

One thing to do is to talk to your new neighbors and ask is they recall seeing plumbers or sewer repairs truck at your house before you moved in. They may know a fair amount about what has been going on.
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by PVW »

nobodyukno wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:14 pm We recently purchased a home. We did not get the sewer inspected. Within 8 days of being in the home, the basement flooded because of a backup in the sewer pipe. A plumbing company cleaned out the sewer pipe, and then 2 weeks later were able to send a camera through the sewer line to see roots destroying part of the sewer line.

The cost of digging up and replacing the line was quoted at $7k.
Probably your only recourse is to shop around. Never believe the assessment from the guy that is trying to sell you services.

I bought a 70 year old home on a lot with several large trees. My home inspector warned that there was a good chance the sewer lines would have problems. He advised that I hire someone to take a video of the lines, but not someone who is in the business of replacing the lines.

I never got a sewer line inspection, but my inspector was right about problems. I have an unfinished, cement floor basement - so when the sewer backs up, I just pay the local 24 hr plumber to snake it out. They typically offer to send a video camera down the line, which always ends in a diagnosis requiring replacement of the sewer line. No thanks.
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by adamthesmythe »

Whether you have recourse depends on what exactly the disclosure form says.

A lie on the the disclosure form would be a potential opening.

About sewer inspection- there ar all kinds of things you COULD inspect for that many people will not. For example: lead paint; radon in a non-radon area; expansive soil, inaccessible mold, ...

Deciding WHAT to inspect for is balance between cost and potential benefit.
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by Trader Joe »

nobodyukno wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:14 pm We recently purchased a home. We did not get the sewer inspected. Within 8 days of being in the home, the basement flooded because of a backup in the sewer pipe. A plumbing company cleaned out the sewer pipe, and then 2 weeks later were able to send a camera through the sewer line to see roots destroying part of the sewer line.

The cost of digging up and replacing the line was quoted at $7k.

How much legal recourse do we have for trying to get the sellers to pay at least part of this damage? Again, we did not have the sewer inspected, but there were also no disclosures at all regarding plumbing.

I find it really hard to believe the previous owner's did not run into any issues with this as we had a backup within a week. It's not like the roots destroyed the sewer in the week we were living in the home.

We contacted our realtor who just told us to find a real estate attorney. The previous owners could simply agree to help out (would be surprised), but is there any grounds for saying they lied on the disclosures?
Based on the information that you provided, no, you do not have any recourse. Use this as a learning experience.
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by quantAndHold »

People live in houses differently, and it’s really, really common for something that worked just fine when one family is living there to break immediately when someone new moves in, because the new people use the house differently. It happened all the time when I was a landlord.

It seems entirely plausible that the previous owner had no clue there was a problem.
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by bikesandbeers »

I'm just pilling on here to say you likely have no recourse, unless the plumbing company happens to have records that they gave the previous owner a quote for replacement recently.

when we bought our house, the inspector strongly recommended we get the sewer inspected, because he say some evidence of work being done, but couldn't tell if the whole line had been replaced (and the previous owner didn't know). We decided against it, but saved the money as we planned some remodeling work in the next few years that would have replaced the line anyways.

On the flip side, my brother in law bought a house where the laundry hookups weren't working, and only found out when he was trying to place his washer dryer. The Inspector totally missed it, and I guess the sellers agent knew, but failed to pass along in the info. The inspector and the agent ended up splitting the cost of the repair.

Its worth asking your agent to ask the previous owners if they can help out, but otherwise just chalk it up to the first investment you are making in your nerw home. Swere isn't as sexy as a new kitchen, but it is obviously important to the long term livability of the house.
We ended up spending a lot money money on new electrical and plumbing on our old house, but are happy to know that everything is good and who put it in.
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by mrc »

Welcome to the joys and pitfalls of home ownership. These things happen, and sometimes unfortunatly in your case soon after the purchase. Fix it and replenish your emergency fund ASAP.
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8foot7
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by 8foot7 »

Even if the previous owners lied or not, you will pay the cost of the new sewer lines in attorney fees if you chose to bring this matter to a formal dispute. And you'll have a bear of a time proving they knew something was up with the sewers. Even getting plumbing records wouldn't necessarily get the job done; they may have even paid for a repair and the symptoms of a deeper problem temporarily disappeared, leading them to believe the problem was solved, and there is no duty for anyone to disclose recently repaired issues on a home, because they aren't issues anymore. And even if you did take it to court you will likely not get awarded attorney fees unless you have some type of redhanded evidence.

So in reality you should ask yourself who would you rather pay, the sewer people or the attorneys?

Unless you have slam-dunk evidence, like you found a diagnostic invoice that says the sewer line needs replacing hidden in a wall somewhere dated before the disclosure was signed but recently enough to reasonably considered the same issue, you're out of luck.

You can always ask the previous homeowners to help defray the cost, but I'll be honest, I would decline that request if it came to me.

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Bogle7
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by Bogle7 »

Only $7K to fix the problem?
Consider yourself lucky.
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by nesta »

Maybe it's a regional thing, but when we bought our first house 4 years ago our realtor recommended a sewer inspection separate from our normal inspection, which we did to the tune of about $400. They didn't see any issues, but we knew that sewer issues could often cost a lot if something happened after we moved in. I thought that was the norm, but based on a lot of the responses here it sounds like that isn't the case.
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by sergeant »

I live near the foothills and walk in them everyday for exercise. Almost every home that gets bought ends up having to have a new septic system put in within a couple months. Thank goodness I live where there is provided sewer. People plant things never thinking what the roots will do.

I think you have no recourse. I would do the repair work myself.
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by jfn111 »

nesta wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:31 pm Maybe it's a regional thing, but when we bought our first house 4 years ago our realtor recommended a sewer inspection separate from our normal inspection, which we did to the tune of about $400. They didn't see any issues, but we knew that sewer issues could often cost a lot if something happened after we moved in. I thought that was the norm, but based on a lot of the responses here it sounds like that isn't the case.
A lot of this depends on the age of the house. In Minneapolis where we deal with 100 year old houses with cast iron pipes that merge in to clay pipes at the main line I always encourage a sewer inspection. In the suburbs, with newer houses, we seldom find problems so I can't vigorously encourage an inspection. ( I always leave it up to the Buyer to work out what inspections they want directly with THEIR chosen inspector.)
In cold climates mice like to find their way into the house come winter. An inspection done in September might not see any evidence of mice. If the previous owners had a cat, and the definition of infestation is 2 mice, the previous owners may have rarely seen them.
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by Rdytoretire »

You might consider just getting the sewer rodded out. Which should not cost very much. The roots will grow back but it may take months /years. It should buy you some time if you are not sure how to proceed. Plenty of homes have clean outs just for this purpose. I had a home where the city had planted trees in the parkway. The roots eventually get into the homeowners sewers. The city took no responsibility for this.
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by JoeRetire »

nobodyukno wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:14 pm We recently purchased a home. We did not get the sewer inspected.
Why not?
How much legal recourse do we have for trying to get the sellers to pay at least part of this damage? Again, we did not have the sewer inspected, but there were also no disclosures at all regarding plumbing.

I find it really hard to believe the previous owner's did not run into any issues with this as we had a backup within a week. It's not like the roots destroyed the sewer in the week we were living in the home.
Are you able to prove that the previous owners knew of the issue and chose not to disclose it?
We contacted our realtor who just told us to find a real estate attorney. The previous owners could simply agree to help out (would be surprised), but is there any grounds for saying they lied on the disclosures?
It's all about proof.

My guess - you should have inspected the sewer system and are now out of luck. Almost certainly you signed something that indicated you were given time to have inspections performed before closing and were given an opportunity to back out based on the results of those inspections.
Last edited by JoeRetire on Thu Jan 09, 2020 5:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by adamthesmythe »

sergeant wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:33 pm I live near the foothills and walk in them everyday for exercise. Almost every home that gets bought ends up having to have a new septic system put in within a couple months. Thank goodness I live where there is provided sewer. People plant things never thinking what the roots will do.

I think you have no recourse. I would do the repair work myself.
It takes a verra determined laddie to do his own sewer repairs.
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by bikesandbeers »

adamthesmythe wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 5:27 pm
sergeant wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:33 pm I live near the foothills and walk in them everyday for exercise. Almost every home that gets bought ends up having to have a new septic system put in within a couple months. Thank goodness I live where there is provided sewer. People plant things never thinking what the roots will do.

I think you have no recourse. I would do the repair work myself.
It takes a verra determined laddie to do his own sewer repairs.
if you are looking for some exercise or have a strong teenager, you can save a lot of money by digging out the pipe yourself and then having a plumber to the actual replacement. Heck my dad had me do similar work when i was 10 in exchange for baseball cards. Why pay a plumber $100/hr to dig? that is assuming it is in an accessible location.
Carl53
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by Carl53 »

nobodyukno wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:14 pm We recently purchased a home. We did not get the sewer inspected. Within 8 days of being in the home, the basement flooded because of a backup in the sewer pipe. A plumbing company cleaned out the sewer pipe, and then 2 weeks later were able to send a camera through the sewer line to see roots destroying part of the sewer line.

The cost of digging up and replacing the line was quoted at $7k.

How much legal recourse do we have for trying to get the sellers to pay at least part of this damage? Again, we did not have the sewer inspected, but there were also no disclosures at all regarding plumbing.

I find it really hard to believe the previous owner's did not run into any issues with this as we had a backup within a week. It's not like the roots destroyed the sewer in the week we were living in the home.

We contacted our realtor who just told us to find a real estate attorney. The previous owners could simply agree to help out (would be surprised), but is there any grounds for saying they lied on the disclosures?
I did not see anything about the age of the home, trees in the vicinity or piping type. Perhaps ten years ago, after having problems with storm water that resulted in me digging up about 30 foot of old slotted tile that had a lot of roots (don't understand why they would have used slotted plastic tile) I located the outlet line from my septic tank about 20 feet downstream from it and installed an inspection port (tee with riser and a fitted but not sealed pipe cap covered by a supported piece of flat limestone so as to be able to mow over it). I was dismayed to see that it too was slotted black plastic tile but it was clean. About two years ago the septic system had some problems so I had it pumped. Septic service commented on how little solid was in the tank and that all seemed well. About two months later had same problem. I dug up the third tank cover (which I did not know existed until septic service advised). After using a utility pump to pump down the tank (ran it to the aforementioned cleanout) I could see the outlet port. Tried inserting hose running into outlet port of tank and got no noticeable water showing up at the downstream inspection port but instead it flowed back into the tank. I hand dug up the nearly 20 feet of line. When I broke into it there was perhaps seven feet entirely full of roots. Nearest vegetation of any size is an old rose of sharon but this was at least 10 feet beyond its drip line. Installed some solid hard 4 inch pipe and flexible connectors with automotive style clamps between the tank outlet and my inspection port. Now I add root killer a couple of times per year to the inspection port as I do not want a similar surprise again.

In your case, it does not sound like you need to take immediate action since it was just cleaned out. You could plan to do it yourself as long as it does not it does not run afoul of local regulations. I did despite being in my 60s. Or you could just plan to do it in the next year or two.
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unclescrooge
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by unclescrooge »

daheld wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 3:19 pm You have zero way to prove they knowingly lied on a disclosure. In all fairness, there's absolutely a good chance they had no idea and never had any inclination there were roots in the sewer lateral. I don't know how many houses you've bought, but I would recommend ALWAYS getting a sewer inspection. Always. No matter what.

You bought a house on which an inspector noted "shoddy" plumbing. You assumed some risk in that scenario.

In terms of the repair, I would recommend exploring the possibility of cured in place/epoxy lined pipe replacement. I sold a house that, upon inspection, had tree roots in the lateral. We had ZERO issues or inclination there was a partial blockage. Anyway, we agreed to fix it. It cost $3,000 to do the cured in place pipe, and it would've been significantly more to dig out and replace as it was under a concrete walkway.
+1
I paid $4,300 to reline 27 ft of sewer line. Two plumbers quoted me over $12k.
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RickBoglehead
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by RickBoglehead »

What did your home inspector find? If you didn't have one, that's on you. If you did, he failed to find a rodent infestation and shoddy plumbing? Sounds like you have recourse with him.
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rkhusky
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by rkhusky »

You could hire a private investigator to see if you can get any local plumbers to admit inspecting the sewer line and finding problems.
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Nate79
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by Nate79 »

Until this thread I didn't even know people inspected sewer lines when purchasing and we have purchased multiple homes with sewer. Learn something new every day.
Zubs
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by Zubs »

I used to work as a plumber and I had a lot of experience with sewer laterals. A couple comments:
  • Home inspectors usually don't look at the sewer lateral and probably aren't going to be responsible for it. You have to have a specialized camera for that.
  • Roots in the sewer lateral will usually cause a partial clog at first and then eventually the whole line will clogged.
  • The previous owners may not have known that they had an issue. If they had low water usage or spread it out throughout the day, then the line would have slowly cleared during the day.
  • Having the lined cleaned is usually only a temporary solution. It depends how badly the pipe is broken and how quickly the roots grow back. If you don't fix the pipe then you could go anywhere from a couple of years to a couple of months before the problem occurs again.
  • Get a back flow device installed and plan on replacing the section of pipe with the roots at some point in the future.
Dudley
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by Dudley »

You could hire a private investigator to see if you can get any local plumbers to admit inspecting the sewer line and finding problems.
..or you could simply repair it.
daheld
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by daheld »

unclescrooge wrote: Fri Jan 10, 2020 6:48 am
daheld wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 3:19 pm You have zero way to prove they knowingly lied on a disclosure. In all fairness, there's absolutely a good chance they had no idea and never had any inclination there were roots in the sewer lateral. I don't know how many houses you've bought, but I would recommend ALWAYS getting a sewer inspection. Always. No matter what.

You bought a house on which an inspector noted "shoddy" plumbing. You assumed some risk in that scenario.

In terms of the repair, I would recommend exploring the possibility of cured in place/epoxy lined pipe replacement. I sold a house that, upon inspection, had tree roots in the lateral. We had ZERO issues or inclination there was a partial blockage. Anyway, we agreed to fix it. It cost $3,000 to do the cured in place pipe, and it would've been significantly more to dig out and replace as it was under a concrete walkway.
+1
I paid $4,300 to reline 27 ft of sewer line. Two plumbers quoted me over $12k.
You got a good deal. I paid $3,000 for a small, maybe 8 foot section. I got multiple quotes and this was the cheapest. I do believe the plumber though when he told me that $3,000 is basically what he charges to get a truck, trailer, all the cured in place equipment and two guys to a job for 4-6 hours. He said the actual material to do the job is cheap and the time it takes to do 10 feet vs. 30 feet is not that much different. So I guess when I think about it that way I don't feel as bad! :beer
seawolf21
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by seawolf21 »

I would blame the inspector. You're paying the inspector for their experience on potential problem areas. So if a tree is outside the house near where sewer lines are, the least the inspector should have done is recommend getting an inspection.

$7k to $10k is about right to replace the line.

Since we are dealing with trees, please make sure your gutters are not clogged with leaves.
Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

Since you already had it cleaned out, I’d just buy some root killer (kind that foams up the pipe do entire inside is coated with it) and pour that into drain opening every quarter or so. American Water Resources offers a sewer insurance replacement policy for about $170 a year, see if they cover your area.

You have no recourse with homeowner. If you have nearby trees, you may consider taking them down.
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dsmil
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by dsmil »

We had a similar thing happen in our last house. Clogs started immediately after moving in, and finally after the county cleaned the line a few times, they finally sent a camera down there and said we had to replace the line. I also found it hard to believe that the sellers weren't aware of this but I'm not sure how I could have proven it.

In our current house, we have a foundation issue that our inspector didn't catch. Again, it's hard to prove that someone knew about it, especially considering that the previous homeowner passed away and their kids were selling the house. They were technically exempt from having to fill out the disclosure form.
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Sandtrap
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by Sandtrap »

Even if there are trees nearby and the line was cleaned out of roots every so often during home ownership, there's no requirement to disclose this. For many home locations, it's a part of normal home ownership to occasionally router the lines for roots. Often, can go on for decades without needing line replacement.
However, if you had the sewer lines camera checked before the sale or as part of contingent items, then you would have had recourse.
Previous poster is correct, litigation may or may not bear fruit, or end up costly on your end. You might write a letter to the prior owner and see if they are willing to help with replacement costs but, if they don't want to, then what?

Have you checked to see how often you need to have these roots cleared?
Is replacement absolutely needed at this time? (line collapse?. . .dirt. . no removeable blockage?)
As a previous poster mentioned, nearby trees, etc, can be cleared to stop the roots.

I have had ongoing root in sewer line issues on many properties. Solutions are different.
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dm200
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by dm200 »

nobodyukno wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:14 pm We recently purchased a home. We did not get the sewer inspected. Within 8 days of being in the home, the basement flooded because of a backup in the sewer pipe. A plumbing company cleaned out the sewer pipe, and then 2 weeks later were able to send a camera through the sewer line to see roots destroying part of the sewer line.
The cost of digging up and replacing the line was quoted at $7k.
How much legal recourse do we have for trying to get the sellers to pay at least part of this damage? Again, we did not have the sewer inspected, but there were also no disclosures at all regarding plumbing.
I find it really hard to believe the previous owner's did not run into any issues with this as we had a backup within a week. It's not like the roots destroyed the sewer in the week we were living in the home.
We contacted our realtor who just told us to find a real estate attorney. The previous owners could simply agree to help out (would be surprised), but is there any grounds for saying they lied on the disclosures?
While I agree with you - proving it is another thing.

Perhaps, if there were such problems with the previous owner, then might they have made an inquiry at the time with the municipal sewer department? If so, might there be some sort of record with that department?

Did your plumbing company see any evidence of any prior work relevant to this?

Maybe, chat with neighbors, with similar age and type homes, to see how common this situation is -- and, perhaps, if any of them know about such issues with your house. If there had been such issues, I suspect there would have been some evidence in the basement -- BUT any of such evidence would probably have been wiped out by your flooding of the basement.
A $7k learning experience...
I believe you would need to spend/risk much more than this to have any chance of being successful.

We have not had any sewer issues on our 80 year old house, which we purchased 41 years ago. :) Would or could a sewer inspection have detected the problem before you purchased the house?

Good Luck! Welcome to home ownership.
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