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Well Inspector? Or Septic Pumper in Disguise? Why Wisconsin Home Buyers Should NEVER Let Sellers’ Agents Pay for Well Inspections

Published February 15, 2024
Written by Eric Smith
Well Inspector? Or Septic Pumper in Disguise? Why Wisconsin Home Buyers Should NEVER Let Sellers’ Agents Pay for Well Inspections

Your plumber knows more about your well—and probably charges less to inspect it—than anyone else. Take it from our Master Tradesman…

Home buyers can generally trust in the home inspection process because they are paying for it.

However, the water well and septic systems also have to pass inspections, and these inspections are almost always handled by the seller’s agent instead of yours.

It may seem counterintuitive, but the wisest choice a buyer can make is to assume responsibility for both the home inspection and the well inspection. Here’s why.

Major Flaws in the Property Inspection Process

  • The seller typically controls two-thirds of the inspections.In Wisconsin, there are usually three kinds of inspection that take place before a property transfer can happen. Initially, it sounds like a good thing that you would only have to pay for one of them—but that means two out of three inspectors are working for the seller, not for you.

    The seller is NOT doing you a favor by paying for both the well and septic inspections. As long as he’s the one paying, he gets to say whether he’s satisfied with the service rendered.
  • Real estate agents have their own motives:
    • “Drive-by” inspections. A good inspector is an asset to the buyer’s party, but a thorn in the side of the seller’s agent. Any inspector hired by the seller’s agent will be incentivized to overlook concerns that could cost you money down the line.
    • One-stop shopping. Another way the seller’s agent minimizes costs for himself is by trying to kill two birds with one stone. It’s become common in Wisconsin for septic pumpers to begin offering a “two-in-one” well/septic inspection service, which is convenient for the seller—but terrible for the buyer (see final section).
  • A “property transfer well inspection” doesn’t mean what you think it means. This “inspection” isn’t about safety concerns, how much life is left in the existing well, or even how functional your water well system is. It’s a backwards, inherently biased process with no objectivity involved. The only thing you can do is protect yourself by hiring your own well inspector.

Home Buyers Beware: Septic pumpers serve the real estate agent, not the buyer.

The people you see driving the septic pumping trucks are just that: drivers. They’re commercially licensed and certified to operate a specific vehicle. They are not trained inspectors. Worse, they’re not even septic experts!

If mixing septic services and well services wasn’t enough of a red flag, let this be: Having an inexperienced or underqualified individual perform the well inspection is not only against DNR code, but it could cost you as a home buyer tens of thousands of dollars.

You deserve a well inspector who can work on your behalf.

Bottom line: if you’re buying a home with a private well, the onus is on you to insist on having a water well professional as your well inspector. The good news: it’s easy with Team Austin. Just click here to book an inspection online in real time.

About The Author: Eric Smith
Eric Smith is a 3rd generation State of Wisconsin Master Plumber, Water Well Pump Installer, Plumbing Contractor, Water Well Contractor, HVAC Contractor and Water Treatment Expert and the owner of Austin Plumbing, Heating & Air.