Berkeley Real Estate Blog

September 13, 2006

Selling your Berkeley home? Here’s what you need to know about Berkeley’s new Sewer Lateral Ordinance!

Filed under: Uncategorized — serkes @ 9:40 pm

It goes into effect on 1 Oct 2006, which means that just about everyone who has a Berkeley home on the market as of September 2006 must be in compliance with Berkeley’s Sewer Lateral Ordinance.

There’s one out, but it’s not very helpful for sellers. If the seller gives a $4,500 Sewer Lateral Deposit to the City of Berkeley, the Buyer can close escrow.

The gotcha? If the work costs less than $4,500, the difference goes to the BUYER!

It gets worse! If the Buyer doesn’t do the work within 6 months, the City of Berkeley may confiscate all deposit funds, and have the work performed by a contractor selected by the City of Berkeley!

Read all about it in the Declaration Of Sewer Lateral Escrow Deposit Form.

What does this mean for home sellers? If sewer work has been done on your home download and complete an Application for Sewer Lateral Compliance Certificate; submit the application and permit copies or paid invoices to the Dept. of Public Works, 1947 Center Street, 4th Floor. Here’s what the Sewer Lateral Certificate Of Compliance looks like.

If you’re planning a sale or remodel and already know you need work done, get an estimate from a California licensed plumber or sewer replacement company, bite the bullet and just have the work done.

If your home is on the market now, and no sewer work has been done, you really need to get moving on this to save yourself some money at close! And if you’re just not sure? Get a sewer camera inspection for about $75 and have the technician complete and sign a report that is downloadable at the city’s Public Works website … the city will charge $150 to view the tape.

If the technician’s report indicates problems it doesn’t make sense to give the city $150 just to tell you that the work needs to be done… simply get an estimate for replacement and “just do it”

We replaced our sewer lateral a few years ago using the trenchless system. We decided to test the system by researching the permit history of our own home online. Make sure your contractor has had a final permit inspection by the city … ours didn’t, and we may have to go through the sewer video camera inspection process with the $150 fee for the city to review the tape and/or reinspect!

As of September 2006, this is a new process so expect a few glitches … never good if you’re a seller trying to meet a contractual obligation to close escrow on a certain date.

  • Minor Digression – While the plumbers are out there, why not have them install an automatic gas shutoff device. Whenever it senses a mild earthquake, it shuts off automatically! Here’s what PG&E says about Gas Service Shutoff Valves.

Here’s where to go for more details about Berkeley’s Sewer Lateral Ordinance

And believe it or not, I have a personal Y2K story which relates to this problem.

A friend of mine was a very concerned about Y2K, and kept me posted with various stories of doom and gloom. We were both programmers in a prior life, and knew you could only fit 80 columns of code on a punch card… so it made sense to only use 2 columns for the year.

And then it happened. On 1 Jan 2001, our sewer backed up.

I called him with great delight to tell him that his warning were well founded. He got very excited when I told him we had a personal Y2K problem. And then he sighed when we told him what it was!


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