Inspection - Well/Septic/Chimney

8 Replies

I won the HUD auction. Thank you Bigger Pockets! And now I'm gearing up for the inspection. I'm in the Northeast so the weather is an issue. The house has been winterized by HUD so the well, toilets, septic, electric, etc. aren't on and the lines are presumably filled with an antifreeze of some sort. I know the house is fine structurally but I'm wondering if an inspector can make a strong review of the well/water/septic (and even chimney) while the house is in this winterized state. Any suggestions and insight is much appreciated!

The only lines they fill are the traps for the drains . The supply lines get blown out , hot water heater gets drained .  You can always pressurize the domestic water lines with air and check that way . 

The HUd field service manager will charge you a fee to dewinterize if possible per the PCR. Usually $150-200. You are also responsible for all costs incurred to turn on the utilities 

You can do visual inspection first though for certain properties. I bought an REO that was winterized. When I visually inspected the hot water baseboard, I could see swollen and busted/cracked copper which is obviously a sign of freeze damage. There was also some broken pipes in the basement. In this case, I wouldn't have wasted money on having someone come inspect it. I KNOW it leaks! Now some pipes are hidden in walls and there is no way of knowing if they cracked. If all the visual pipes are fine and the home was winterized, chances are good the pipes in the wall are fine. The exposed pipes freeze first. This is NOT a hard and fast rule but the odds are in your favor there.

The winterizing crews they use don't bother to check the system BEFORE they winterize. They are paid to winterize and just go do it. Sometimes, it's done AFTER the freeze up. Look for clues to freeze damage before you pay someone to tell you what you can see for yourself. 

As far as the septic, I assume it's an on site system? Public sewer does not need inspection obviously. You do want to check the waste lines leading out as they are your responsibility however.

On site septic system failure can be the kiss of death in this line of work. Not to scare you but it is probably the single biggest problem that can kill your deal. Other issue can be corrected relatively inexpensively compared to a septic problem. If your system is bad, you are talking BIG money to fix ($15-20K in my area). 

Have a die test to see where the drain field is and a hydraulic load test to see if it's saturated. If it's a cesspool, I would be inclined to walk away unless it's a ridiculously good deal.

Thanks all! Here's another oddity. HUD is insisting that I can not have utilities turned on until I bring the house up to 65 degrees for a minimum of X hours. That's impossible since there's no fuel tank for the oil furnace. They're also insisting that I'm liable if the place burns to the ground while the systems are turned on. That's ridiculous and terrifying and the house is remote (Adirondacks) so it's not like I can run an extension cord to a neighbors house or leave a generator running unattended. Oh, HUD, you are a pain in my butt. They also insist that when I rewinterize, I bring a licensed plumber and send them a certified notices, they won't allow my inspector to do it or their field manager.

I'm considering rolling the dice and just going with the visual inspection. The house has been vacant for more than a year but neighbors hadn't heard anything bad about well, etc. from previous owner.  

The only utility you can turn on is electric right? can you use a generator, to check the well. if the well doesnt work not sure how you do some of the septic testing.

Yes, but HUD requires that the house be heated for nearly 24 hours before any utilities are turned on. Sitting in the Adirondacks with a generator making sure the place doesn't burn down (they said I'd be liable) seems like a ridiculous request on HUD's part. Just wanted to see if anyone else had dealt with this issue before (oh, great, snowstorm this weekend!) and how they had maneuvered around it.