Bank owned properties are often not fun to inspect on so many different levels.
Once you get past the initial curiosity, one must face the reality that the condition of the house somehow reflects how messed up we can make our lives. Behind all the “theories” of failed mortgages in the media, is the harsh reality of the people’s actual lives—-making the “reasons” seem kind of shallow—-and in themselves a sort of emotional and cultural bankruptcy.
Sometimes when I am wading through the debris of a severely distressed property I can’t help but think about whether I should be dressed in “hazmat” gear or not. Instead of the customary taking off of the shoes at the door, it becomes more about making sure I leave them on.
The inspection I want to talk about today was about as bad as they get in terms of filth. There were pet feces (if not something worse) everywhere. All interior surfaces where dirty, damaged—disgusting. To think about how the only thing that was missing was the inhabitants, made the scene even more horrific. Because the facts are that someone was “living” in all this filth—and likely with kids.
Seeing rodent activity within any home is not uncommon, but is pretty much guaranteed in these severely distressed properties. There were several attic spaces all packed with years worth of the owner’s belongings—-most were riddled with rodent tunnels, feces and nesting materials. Nests made of family photos and stored clothing.
While finding the carcasses of dead rats is very common, I had never found anything quite this large and dead in an attic space before.
My first reaction (kept to myself) was to wonder why it didn’t stink to high heaven (I also wondered, to myself, how the inhabitants could have lived with such a stench). I am pretty sure my buyer “freaked” more than I did—-but he was already aware that we were very likely looking at tear-down. We were all greatly relieved to find that, rather than being some dead cat or something, it was merely another sign of the overall sad story of this home.
It is always the mental picture of the children of these distressed properties that bothers me the most.
Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector
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