Property inspection checklist priority

Sep 11, 2018 // By:Scott Hamele // No Comment

It’s not pretty, but the sewer is where you can save money

By Scott Hamele, DBIA President and founder of Nationwide Commercial Inspections, LLC (NCI) and Construction DesignWorks, LLC

Not many people think you can save money by making the sanitary sewer a priority when you inspect real estate. This should be a critical item on your property inspection checklist, even more so in a commercial building and, obviously, in older structures. The emphasis of most property condition assessments is the roof, structural, HVAC and cosmetic issues. The toilet may flush ok, but where’s that water going and how long will that last?

An example of why you need the sewer on your property inspection checklist

A recent project we were involved with in the Kansas City area was a 48-year-old building that has no history of sewer problems. Prior to the commercial lease being signed and a construction contract being executed, a professional sanitary sewer video inspection was conducted. The results exhibited that most of the sewer discharge never made it out of the building. There was a large gaping hole in the bottom of the pipe (see 54 seconds into the video). The entire sub-grade sewer line was cast iron and was badly deteriorated in one area and had signs of deterioration in others. In addition, there was a large “belly” in the center of the pipe where there was standing sewer water.

The recommendation for the project described above was to cut out and replace nearly 45-feet of 4” sewer line. This would safeguard the $120,000 of commercial tenant improvements in this area, and guarantee that the floor wouldn’t be disturbed in the future for repair and replacement of this same line. The contractor was able to make good use of the open plumbing trench and install additional floor drains, clean-outs and also used the trench to install sub-grade electrical and data conduits.

nationwide property inspection checklist

When you have a deficient cast iron or clay sewer line, there are other options that are less costly. A non-invasive process called trenchless pipe lining is something to consider. From an interior clean-out or one on the outside of the building, the pipe is opened, and the rust, scale and roots are cleaned out. A new pipe-liner or sleeve which has been saturated with a special self-hardening epoxy resin is inserted into the pipe. The liner contains a balloon, which is inflated for 3 plus hours while the resin becomes firm, and hardens. Only then, the balloon is removed.

A video inspection is performed after the baloon is removed to ensure proper installation. Typically, within 24-hours, the sanitary sewer can be put back in service. Warranties vary between companies and product, but most will offer a minimum 10-year warranty and in some cases up to 50 years.

property inspection checklist

It is critical that a sanitary sewer video inspection be a part of your property inspection checklist, regardless of the history and age of the property. We have even witnessed new buildings that have cracked and collapsed sanitary sewer lines because of improper installation and/or structural settling. Be proactive and know what you are buying!

Nationwide Commercial Inspections, LLC provides the most comprehensive commercial building inspection reports in the industry

NCI utilizes their architectural, engineering and construction expertise to create and develop a high-quality PCA. These reports are customized for each type of real estate: office, retail, flex-space, industrial, hospitality and healthcare. If you are interested in protecting your real estate investment by utilizing a property inspection checklist, contact us at 913-667-7774 or visit our website at

Click here for a video about the property condition assessments we provide.

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