Remember when owning a home with a “cracked slab” was seen as financially devastating? In the 1970s and 1980s, numerous lawsuits were filed over homes with settling problems. That is almost unheard of today. Clearly the public has come to terms with the idea that Foundation repairs are now so common that most people have some basic understanding of the concept of installing corrective piers.
What is less understood is the plumbing aspect of the equation. In some cases, the foundation movement may have been caused by undiscovered plumbing leaks. More commonly, plumbing leaks are caused by the slab repair. This is especially true in the case of cast iron drain pipes or when the slab is lifted several inches.
Most slab warranties state that they are void in the event of water or sewer leaks. Some slab repair companies provide leak testing upon completion and some make it the homeowner’s responsibility. Let’s take a look at the terms.
A hydrostatic test is a pressure test that is performed on the supply lines. You have probably seen a pressure gauge on a hose bib at a new house awaiting the inspector. Some inspectors allow thirty minutes for the test, others longer.
A static test is a test of the sewer lines. A test bladder is placed at the clean out and a toilet is removed. The sewer lines are completely fill with water and the level is observed for some adequate period of time. Both tests are critical on any home where the foundation has been leveled. In fact, most homes built prior to the 1970s have cast iron sewer pipes which are reaching the end of their functional life.
Buyers need to be well informed before purchasing a home that has had foundation repairs or cast iron pipes. Unfortunately these tests are not exactly passive and can result in very expensive damages. The Texas Real Estate Commission has taken note and furnished us with an addendum to cover this issue. The Addendum for Authorizing Hydrostatic Testing requires the owner’s written permission to do the test and clearly states who is legally liable for any damages as a result of the test.
Jeff Stewart, CCIM
Stanberry & Associates
PLEASE READ: Texas law requires all real estate licensees provide the Information About Brokerage Services (IABS) to prospective buyers, tenants, sellers and landlords. Please see the link above.