Some listing agents will be wary of plumbing companies that also do video sewer line inspections because they will inherently have a conflict of interests. Since they will be the company most likely to do the work on any repairs to the sewer line that are required, they have an incentive to exaggerate the actual condition of the sewer line, and possibly give an inflated estimate for repairs in their inspection report (if they even produce a formal inspection report- remember these guys are plumbers not inspectors).
For that reason I would always recommend hiring a sewer line inspection company that does inspections only, so they don’t have any conflict of interest. This will benefit you greatly when you are negotiating with the seller for request for repairs.
The next thing to ask is if they have the right equipment. A professional sewer line inspection kit runs in the neighborhood of $6,000. Without the property equipment getting a good evaluation of the sewer line will be difficult. The first thing to ask is if they have a color camera- if the camera is black and white, which cheaper kits have, the quality of the video from the camera will be much lower. Another question to ask is if the camera is capable of recording- if they can’t make a video for you, then the inspection is greatly diminished in value- the seller is not going to be there when you conduct the inspection, so they wont know what their sewer line looks like. If you can share with them the video it is pretty hard to argue with that. Make sure the technician spins the camera around at the end of the inspection to capture some of the yard and house and himself- this will let the seller know that the video was taken at their property, otherwise who is to say from which sewer line the video came from? How many feet does the camera have? 100ft is on the shorter end, the cheaper kits have this size line. You are looking for a 200ft length cord- with that length you will definitely reach the city tap. Another question to ask is if they have a locator. When you discover a problem such as a cracked fitting, or root intrusion, you can easily mark where the problem is by using a locator to find where the camera is and spray painting a dot, or sticking a flag in the lawn. Finally make sure that the camera displays a foot counter on the screen so that you know the length of the sewer line run, and where along the line you are as you are conducting the video inspection.
A great inspector will have referrals for contractors if you need to get a bid on a sewer line repair. There are two types of contractors that can work on sewer lines- a sewer contractor and a plumbing contractor. Anything requiring access to the public right of way (IE the street) requires the contractor to be bonded.
Sewer Contactor :
A-1 License (General Engineering), B-1 (General Building), C-36 (Plumbing), or C-42 (Sewer, Sewage Disposal, Drain, Cement Pipe Laying), a Los Angeles City Business License with an insurance policy on file and post the appropriate cash/surety bond. The City’s current list of bonded sewer contractors is provided on the following web page.