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

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

Post by WWJBDo »

The fact that the problem didn't appear for 8 days means an inspector would not be expected to find the problem. Missing rodent infestation is another matter altogether, but has no bearing on a sewer obstruction.

When we moving into our house the sewer backed up 3 days later, also from tree roots. Our line was 250 feet long and moderately steep, going under a neighbor's house. Our house had been empty for a few months, allowing the roots to grow. Adding water again to the sewer caused the roots to swell and obstruct the line. We had a temporary rotorooting done and moved the line to a much shorter line which has been fine ever since.

I'm sorry for your unanticipated expense, but don't see that anyone is at fault here.
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." Upton Sinclair
johnubc
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by johnubc »

The key in the question is this "We did not get the sewer inspected."

I do not think you have any recourse.
quantAndHold
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by quantAndHold »

bikesandbeers wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 5:38 pm
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.
What plumber would do their own digging? At least here, they hire low wage laborers to do that kind of thing.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
9liner
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by 9liner »

When we purchased our home 14 months ago, I went back-and-forth trying to decide whether to pay the extra $200 for a camera inspection (on top of the normal visual inspection) of our septic system. It was some of the best money I've ever spent. The inspection basically determined that the septic system was shot. The sale then became contingent upon the sellers replacing the entire septic system from the house to the drain field at a price of $10,000.

Your failure to conduct due-diligence during the buying process places you in the unfortunate position of having to foot the bill. I can promise you that proving the prior owner's had knowledge AND willfully failed to disclose the issue will be nearly impossible.
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dm200
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by dm200 »

9liner wrote: Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:21 am When we purchased our home 14 months ago, I went back-and-forth trying to decide whether to pay the extra $200 for a camera inspection (on top of the normal visual inspection) of our septic system. It was some of the best money I've ever spent. The inspection basically determined that the septic system was shot. The sale then became contingent upon the sellers replacing the entire septic system from the house to the drain field at a price of $10,000.
Your failure to conduct due-diligence during the buying process places you in the unfortunate position of having to foot the bill. I can promise you that proving the prior owner's had knowledge AND willfully failed to disclose the issue will be nearly impossible.
Yes - septic systems, in my opinion, can often "fail" - and corrections/repairs can be very, very expensive.
PVW
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by PVW »

quantAndHold wrote: Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:56 am
bikesandbeers wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 5:38 pm
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.
What plumber would do their own digging? At least here, they hire low wage laborers to do that kind of thing.
The cost of sewer line replacement amazes me. Even a shallow, short run under accessible ground can cost $5K. Subtracting the cost of a licensed plumber, 2 day laborers and a backhoe rental, this seems like more than $4000 in profit for the sewer contractor. Nice work, if you can find it.

But I guess that's not really what the $5K is for. It is worth $5K to have a functioning sewer system, so we pay it.
michaeljc70
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by michaeljc70 »

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?
That won't go over well in court. Unless you can prove they knew about it AND it was a disclosable item I don't see this going anywhere. This will also probably cost you more than $7k to pursue unless you go to small claims court and represent yourself.
Texanbybirth
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by Texanbybirth »

Sorry to hear about your issue, OP. I wouldn't have thought to get a sewer inspection when buying our house.

That being said, it's 33 years old and I wouldn't be surprised if something went wrong with the pipes. Even if it was 8 days after closing on the home, I wouldn't have thought the sellers did anything wrong and would not have thought to seek recourse from them. (Our hot water heater did give up the ghost only about a month into the purchase, but at least around here it's standard for the seller to pay for a 1-year home warranty so that saved us several hundred dollars.)
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fposte
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by fposte »

Grt2bOutdoors wrote: Fri Jan 10, 2020 8:24 am 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.
I believe what they sell isn't legally considered insurance in most states, and it gets pretty mixed reviews (my line replacement cost $12,000, and their coverage tops out at $4,000, for instance). I'd read the details carefully and consider the neighborhood infrastructure and age to decide if it was a better deal than self-insuring.
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celia
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by celia »

nobodyukno wrote: Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:27 pm 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.
I'll bet many plumbers will call previous work as poorly done so they look better in your eyes. But that is only their opinion unless they point out the specific places where things could have been done better. And how are they supposed to know what year building code was in effect for each section of work?

We were in escrow in a sale-by-owner transaction (no realtors involved) when a kitchen pipe start to drip. We could have brought it up to the previous owner, but knowing he was squeezing every dollar out of the sale, he would likely have agreed to cancel the sale instead. Since we were going to remodel the kitchen and move the sink anyway, we fixed it temporarily until the remodeling project could get underway.

I think you should get at least 3 replacement quotes and ask them how they determine the price. This will give you an idea of the labor and equipment required. We had a plumber hand-dig a trench for a new line to the sewer. It took about a week for 3 people digging, I think. Other companies probably could have done it all in one day with the right digging machinery. The cost would likely be the same unless the company with the machinery used it every week (so it would already be paid off).
Teague
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by Teague »

Meanwhile, in the local newspaper:

Seller sued over so-so sewer - sycamore, sludge, and suet suspected.
Semper Augustus
brianH
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by brianH »

dm200 wrote: Fri Jan 10, 2020 12:31 pm
9liner wrote: Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:21 am When we purchased our home 14 months ago, I went back-and-forth trying to decide whether to pay the extra $200 for a camera inspection (on top of the normal visual inspection) of our septic system. It was some of the best money I've ever spent. The inspection basically determined that the septic system was shot. The sale then became contingent upon the sellers replacing the entire septic system from the house to the drain field at a price of $10,000.
Your failure to conduct due-diligence during the buying process places you in the unfortunate position of having to foot the bill. I can promise you that proving the prior owner's had knowledge AND willfully failed to disclose the issue will be nearly impossible.
Yes - septic systems, in my opinion, can often "fail" - and corrections/repairs can be very, very expensive.
As with anything, though, it's all relative. The houses near me that are 'lucky' enough to have public sewer pay $1300/year for that privilege, which will probably increase in price yearly outpacing inflation. A septic should be good for 20+ years if maintained properly, so it's a better deal, assuming you're there 8+ years.

All around this area the local government sewage systems are being sold to a private sewer/water company. The first thing that company does is increase rates, in most cases double or more. Turns out, the local governments weren't properly accounting for upcoming capital maintenance/improvements and were subsidizing the rates with other taxes.
Darion
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by Darion »

I can't speak to your legal recourse, but I can provide our experience with a sewer lateral with root problems.

When you state that you "see roots destroying part of the sewer line", are the roots merely coming in at the joints of the pipe or has the sewer lateral deteriorated to the point of structural failure of the pipe such as a belly in the pipeline or collapsed portions of the pipe?

If it is just roots coming in at the joints and the sewer lateral is otherwise structurally fine, you probably have the option of lining the pipe after it has be sufficiently cleaned (as another poster suggested) or just cleaning by "water jetting" the pipeline. If you do the water jetting, as the name suggests, it will essentially clean the pipe out with a high pressure water jet, and then you would likely need to maintain with a foaming root inhibitor (e.g., RootX) to keep the roots from coming back.

We had a sewer backup in our clay sewer lateral (house was built in 1959), and our regular plumber told us he suspected our sewer lateral was failing. Our sewer only has a 3" cleanout for access in the basement, but the sewer lateral is 6" in diameter to the street; therefore, our plumber could only send a 3" auger into the sewer lateral so he basically just punched a 3" hole through the roots to get our sewer to unclog. He didn't do sewer lateral replacements; therefore, he recommended us to get the lateral scoped and contact a few plumbers he recommended. We had the sewer lateral scoped, and it showed several joints with root intrusion, but the pipe appeared to be structurally fine. We took the video to two plumbers. The first said dig and replace ($10,000 as we have a decently deep, 8', lateral). The second said there was no structural damage and suggested water jetting as water jetting could clean the entire 6" pipe as it is not limited by the 3" cleanout access ($800). We did the water jetting, and it essentially looked like a new pipe after it was finished. I now apply RootX twice a year to maintain it ($65 per application). Your mileage may vary, but I would get another opinion (or two) to make certain that the line is to the point where it needs to be dug up and replaced.
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Cubicle
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by Cubicle »

When I bought my home my inspector simply told me "every house that has a sewer line should have a sewer camera inspection". That's shifted all the burden to me. I did not have one done. Knock on wood, all good so far...
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criticalmass
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by criticalmass »

seawolf21 wrote: Fri Jan 10, 2020 8:23 am 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.
How can you blame the inspector for not doing a pipe inspection they weren't asked or paid to do?
vested1
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by vested1 »

Nate79 wrote: Fri Jan 10, 2020 7:27 am 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.
I was under this impression as well, until we sold our house last July. The buyer insisted on a sewer inspection, having been burned before. When we had the inspection done, a break was found which we knew nothing about. Our options were to replace the entire sewer line to the main in the street (which was the city's policy), estimated at 30k, or to remove pavers in the driveway and expose the break estimated at about 3k. We had to get the city's approval to fix the line in place on our property, and luckily they gave it. Guess which option we chose?

We found that the previous owner had used an outdated method of digging down and breaking the 4" clay pipe to clear a previous clog about 30' from the clean out at the house, and had then simply covered the intentional break with shards of the old pipe, placing plastic sheeting over that before reburying it. We paid about $1,200 total to have the damaged section removed and replaced with ABS including water proof seals. This price included the removal and replacement of the pavers, the 4' excavation under the driveway, and the re-compaction of the excavated soil. The cost was defrayed because I assisted the workers with the excavation and refill.

I would suggest to any prospective buyer that a sewer line inspection should be considered as a requirement. The sewer blockages (6 in 25 years) that we experienced during our years of ownership of the old house were repaired by snaking the line. We never had the line optically inspected. In retrospect, all of the roots that had been removed previously were entering from the old intentional break.
vested1
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by vested1 »

Deleted, duplicate.
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LiveSimple
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by LiveSimple »

Move on, fix and move on...
seawolf21
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by seawolf21 »

criticalmass wrote: Sat Jan 11, 2020 2:50 am
seawolf21 wrote: Fri Jan 10, 2020 8:23 am 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.
How can you blame the inspector for not doing a pipe inspection they weren't asked or paid to do?
A experienced/good inspector would have just put a blurb down in the report that sewer pipe were not inspected and recommend an inspection be done due to proximity of trees.
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MrBobcat
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by MrBobcat »

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?
Our neighbor a few houses down had this exact same thing happen. Turns out one of the plumbers said oh this happened to the former owner not that long before he sold. The were successful in recouping damages from the previous owner for lack of disclosure. So I recommend calling around the local plumbers/roto rooter to see if the house has a history.
ScaledWheel
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by ScaledWheel »

As others have said, you're likely out of luck from any legal front. We had a similar issue with carpenter ants that led to $20k in repairs that the previous owner must have know about (judging by remedies to the affected areas). After talking to a lawyer they pretty much said that we were in the right but would have a hard time proving anything in court.
BSBHead
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by BSBHead »

I'm so sorry this happened. Never fun. For what it's worth, the price quoted seems very inexpensive for a sewer line compared to where I live. Quotes in my area are $10-20k. For what it's worth, I had similar disclosure issues when I bought my current house. The seller broke the beautiful one of kind front door when moving out and didn't tell us. They also shut off the sprinkler line in mid summer to "save" money given they were moving out. Unfortunately, you cannot underestimate people's behavior when it comes to large transaction.

If I was going to be unhappy with anyone outside of the seller, I'd be mad at your realtor. They were paid 2.5-3% (50% of sales commission) minimum, so the least they could've done as brought this up as a potential issue and advised accordingly. The inspector is paid minimally, so they are going to do the minimum request ordered.
michaeljc70
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by michaeljc70 »

If you start getting specific professionals to look at the furnace, roof, foundation, structure, sewer line, plumbing, electrical, etc. in depth before closing you'd be paying thousands of dollars. Most people don't consider it worth it. That is why people get a general inspection to find obvious stuff for a few hundred bucks. In this case it would have been worth it. That is using hindsight though. It is like the person winning the lottery telling everyone to buy lottery tickets because they won.
Freetime76
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by Freetime76 »

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.

I would not assume the previous owners knew or hid anything, though I get that you’re mad. Chalk it up to experience.

Similar to you: We bought a house from a retired couple. It had been inspected. The upstairs shower promptly clogged, downstairs vanity sink clogged, and main waste pipe developed a leak in the cast iron fittings. The old couples maybe (totally wild guessing - not meaning to offend anyone) 1 shower a day, minimal laundry, and simple living simply didn’t compare with our 3+showers including for a construction worker DH, people at home all day...etc etc. They were super nice people who had lived there for many decades. I would not expect them to see all the issues in a lived in house full of 50+ years of stuff with limited mobility. The house was in good condition otherwise.

Oh, and there were mice. Not sure what constitutes an “infestation “ for you...if truly that bad, you’d see droppings in cabinets probably....We bought traps at 50 cents each at the hardware store...keep setting until no more mice and the cheese or peanut butter doesn’t disappear. Then start sealing up the exterior of the house better.
Freetime76
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by Freetime76 »

P.S. great advice above. Definitely get quotes or other opinions.

One old house we had needed the line snaked every few years. Using the largest possible diameter blades - learned that the hard way over agonizing over a perpetually flooded basement when doing laundry...and the line was JUST rotorootered. Come to find out from a different plumber (old-timer, with no vested interest in redoing my whole plumbing line or in coming back every 6 months)...*miracle fix was a BIGGER blade*. :oops: :oops: :oops: first time homeowners back then.

ETA: P.P.S I also remember being told multiple times something to the effect of...oh they’re going to love you...as new homeowners. Read that as fresh meat :annoyed to get to buy who-knows-what because didn’t know what we’re looking at. Not sure if that’s your situation or not, just food for thought. Not everyone is after you, but some will see dollar signs - as with anything.
criticalmass
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Re: New Sewer Line 2 weeks after Home Purchase. Any Legal Recourse?

Post by criticalmass »

seawolf21 wrote: Sat Jan 11, 2020 11:29 am
criticalmass wrote: Sat Jan 11, 2020 2:50 am
seawolf21 wrote: Fri Jan 10, 2020 8:23 am 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.
How can you blame the inspector for not doing a pipe inspection they weren't asked or paid to do?
A experienced/good inspector would have just put a blurb down in the report that sewer pipe were not inspected and recommend an inspection be done due to proximity of trees.
Sure, but I've never seen a report that doesn't disclaim that, plus a lot of other stuff too. Are you saying this report claimed the pipe isn't a risk without inspection?
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