What Lurks Under Your Ole' House Could Affect Your Sales Price

Posted by Cory Nickerson on Friday, June 16th, 2017 at 10:02pm.

Working in real estate I see a few things that I may otherwise never learn about. My latest learning experience? Orangeburg sewer pipes. These ancient sewer pipes, installed as long ago as the 1860s, were fabricated from pressed wood pulp, which gives these types of pipes a little more integrity than that of laminated paper towel rolls. And we're seeing them in Old Town Louisville!

According to Express Sewer and Drain, ”Orangeburg pipe was made with steam generators to dry the fibers with exhaust steam before the pitch sealed the layers of conduit. The pipes were designed with a diameter that measured anywhere from 2 to 18 inches…Since the pipes were lightweight, though brittle, they were very popular in construction projects that needed to be finished with haste.”  

Haste? Not exactly how you want your sewer pipes built! In other words, these pipes are not an ideal system to manage a home’s solid waste. In other, other words, these pipes are considered by most plumbers to be a ticking time bomb. There are a lot of them still in place in Old Town Louisville, but you may not even find out about them until you put your home on the market to sell and your buyers conduct a sewer inspection.

For those of you reading this, who are familiar with the East Coast, more specifically north of New York City, you may recognize the name of a little hamlet called, Orangeburg, NY, which is where the manufacturing of these types of pipes originated. Once more durable pipes made of PVC material were developed, Orangeburg pipes ceased to be manufactured.A 1948 assessor's photo of the D'Agostino House, 1245 Grant Ave., in Louisville. (Courtesy Photo)

If you own an older home, you may find yourself in the same situation as several of our neighbors here in Old Town Louisville. There are two approaches to understanding what lurks below your charming, old home. You could be proactive and hire a reputable sewer scope company to come out and scope your pipes. For about $130 or less the plumber will scope your lines with a video camera and give you a report and a link to the video feed. If you go this route, you may learn about issues in your sewer lines (whether they be Orangeburg or other problems). Once you have this knowledge you will be legally obligated to disclose this knowledge to your Buyer once you are under contract. If you don’t disclose this information, and the Buyer later can prove that you withheld information about the property’s “material defects”, the Buyer can slap you with a lawsuit. The statute of limitations begins two years after the Buyer discovers this defect. So, this problem could come back to haunt you 5, 10, 20 or more years later.

However, going this route empowers you with the knowledge you may need to price your older home when you are ready to sell. Chances are high that your Buyers are going to conduct a sewer scope and knowing the facts ahead of time will allow you to price your home accordingly. If you do find problems and elect to do the repair work, then be sure to keep all the receipts and evidence of professional work completed. 

Alternatively, you can market your home without conducting a sewer scope and wait to see if that is an item that your Buyers may want to complete as part of their home inspection. If they don’t include it, and you get through “Inspection Resolution” without a sewer scope, you can wash your hands of this potential problem. However, if you have a Buyer who does include sewer scoping in their inspection, you will have to hold your breath and wait it out. The problem with this approach is that if the sewer inspection reveals major issues, you may be facing a Seller’s Credit in the amount of $5,000 or even higher. 

At Louisville Realty Associates, we have the experience, energy and depth of knowledge to help you list your home for the best price.  If you would like to see housing data for Boulder County, there are plenty of statistics to check out in such as "Days on Market", "Total Inventory" and "Newly Listed Homes".  We track all these market statistics for Single Family Homes (SFH) for most of neighboring towns on a monthly basis, including Louisville, Erie, Lafayette and Superior. Check out Spring 2017 market summary here.  You can reach us anytime at info@louisvillerealtyassociates.com.

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