Seattle Home Inspector's Blog


The benefits of acting and thinking like a mouse.

The first thing I saw when I entered the attic was dozens of little ¾” holes peppering the yellow fiberglass insulation.  There were urine stained, and feces studded, trails from many of the holes.Mouse holes in insulation

I was in mouse heaven.

It is nasty enough crawling around in attics, so when they are vermin infested it makes the job even more interesting.  It makes me glad to have a good mask and a good ability of holding my breath.

An inspector has to be a bit like a rat or a mouse when it comes to crawl spaces and attics.

Rodents explore EVERYWHERE----that is why you generally can find signs of them EVERYWHERE as well as it explains why they are able to get into the home in the first place.  They look everywhere---it is what they are about---and they spend their entire lives doing it.  There is usually something that drives their searching---the smell of food---water---and just plain curiosity.

Exploring like a mouse is what pushes me to go to the parts of attics that one might otherwise ignore.  This is especially true if I have been given reason to be curious about a particular area of the attic from something I saw before I got in the attic.  There was mold or mold-like fungal growth apparent on the drywall in one area and I really wanted to see if I could see any evidence of leaking in the attic.

The attic above the garage was large and circuitous.  It was an “L” shaped three car garage.  As I crawled through the trusses to the farthest corner, I could see with my flashlight what looked like an opening near the eaves---in the area of suspected leaking.  There was no way I could actually get to this location without eating a lot of mouse infested insulation but I knew that I could probably get close enough to get my camera into the area.

In this first picture one can see the opening.

Missing fire-stopping

Now this opening in itself should have been fire-stopped to prevent the spread of fire from the walls below to the attic space I was in.  This alone was worthy of mention to my buyer.  As I extended the camera even further, to get a shot down into the cavity, I saw something that I would have had no other way of knowing had I not insisted on being a mouse.

Hidden outlet

At the bottom of the cavity I noticed in the camera picture what appeared to be a blue electrical box that had been covered by drywall.  More good information for my buyer---and more proof of the benefits of acting and thinking like a mouse.  Here is a picture of the fungus covered wall and the approximate location of the buried outlet box.

Buried outlet box


Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector


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Comment balloon 39 commentsCharles Buell • March 09 2011 02:06PM


Trying to picture you now with Mickey Mouse ears on....  The buyers who hire you are very lucky to have an inspector who can think like a mouse! (seriously)

Posted by Nancy Conner, Olympia/Thurston County WA almost 8 years ago

Hi Charles, I picture you more as Mighty Mouse in your home inspector duties.  Thanks for sharing the quest.

Posted by Dale Ganfield almost 8 years ago

I would have to drag a mouse's intellectual prowess down to my level.  Mice seem to be a lot more logical than their human counterparts…

Posted by Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS, Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority! (RE/MAX Northwest.) almost 8 years ago

Gtreat post but I really would not want to do your job !

Posted by Anne Hensel, Realtor - Broker - St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island (South Beaches Real Estate Professionals) almost 8 years ago

Charles I don't think I could do what you do.....I was getting kind of screamish just looking at the pics. I sure would want you to be my inspector are good!!

Posted by Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886, Arizona's Top Banana! (Phoenix Property Shoppe) almost 8 years ago

Hi Charles - another thorough inspection.. Gay

Posted by Gay E. Rosen, As Real as Real Estate Gets! (Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty) almost 8 years ago

Just reading this inspection made me want to go shower! Thanks for do what you do because I sure would not.

Posted by Rosalie Evans, The Evans Group, Sioux Falls, SD Homes For Sale (Meritus Group Real Estate) almost 8 years ago

So it is true. Nutsy has taught you something about inspecting housed. How to act like a rodent :)

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Looks like it pays to to act like a mouse...I know your client appreciated it !!

Posted by Cory Barbee, Broker (760) 563-4022 almost 8 years ago

Nancy I already have pretty big ears :)

Dale, thanks---I remember that cartoon :)

Paul, and certainly more persistent

Anne, I would not make a very good agent probably :)

Anna, thanks

Gay, I hope so :)

Rosalie---after an inspection I almost always feel like I need a shower

Jim, I think you are right

Cory, it seems like interesting things get found when you go where no one else will go.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 8 years ago

Mr Charles,

Other than me, I know of nobody who is as much like a mouse as you.


Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 8 years ago

Hi Charles~  There is no way I could ever even think about doing what you do.  The mere thought of a mouse freaks me out!  I can't imagine having to act or think like one!  Good job investigating!

Posted by Vickie McCartney, Broker, Real Estate Agent Owensboro KY (Maverick Realty) almost 8 years ago

You are better than a mouse.  What a great intuitive sense you have.  I am sure the buyer was happy they had hired you.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) almost 8 years ago

Wow, nice find!  Every time I take a photo like that, where I have to hold my camera over some dropoff in to some inaccessible area, I always worry about dropping it.  

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 8 years ago


You owe Nutsy a huge thanks as James said.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 8 years ago

These little critters are everywhere!!   Thanks for the post today.


Patricia / Seacoast NH & ME

Posted by Patricia Aulson, Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes (BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOME SERVICES Verani Realty NH Real Estate ) almost 8 years ago

Yuck!  We always tease our inspectors for their little hazmat like suits when they go in crawl spaces, but I completely understand.  You guys come out of some awfully gross places!  Wonder what that box was doing back there!

Posted by Joel Weihe, Helping you to use your VA home loan benefits (Realty World Alliance) almost 8 years ago

I guess they need a place to live too. It's all in a days work Mr. Mouse and Home Inspector. You are a great detective, just keep proding until you finish your quest.

Nice blog and excellent photo's even if you did have to play with the mice.

Posted by Carl Winters almost 8 years ago


Our last house had a crawl space and we did have a critter problem at one point.  God bless you for haivng to crawl around in those tough spaces with mice, rats and SNAKES!  

Note- new house has a basement and no distressing spaces like the old one:-)

All the best, Michelle

Posted by Michelle Francis, Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease (Tim Francis Realty LLC) almost 8 years ago


You are the man when it comes to attics. Great finds there.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Nutsy, there is no question as to your rodent status

Vickie, but it is so much fun to think like a mouse :)

Joan, thanks---I too am glad this is only a metaphor---unlike Nutsy

Reuben, that is what the strap is for :)

Steve, I think not

Patricia---and can get everywhere for sure

Sheree---they simply drywalled over it---and forgot about it

Carl & Ceil---all in a days work I guess

Michelle, I am no fan of crawl spaces myself---even though they do result in lots of blog fodder

Don, thanks

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 8 years ago

Hi Charles -- This post illustrates why a thorough home inspection will always be necessary and only hiring the best is also the best route to take.

Posted by Chris Olsen, Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate (Olsen Ziegler Realty) almost 8 years ago

I listed a house that had natural rodent control in the attic. Snakes were living there, too.

Posted by Dave Halpern, Louisville Short Sale Expert (Keller Williams Realty Louisville East (502) 664-7827) almost 8 years ago

Hi Charles...You are a super inspector and lots of fun too.  Perfect combination.


Posted by Kate Elim, Realtor 540-226-1964, Selling Homes & Land a (Dockside Realty) almost 8 years ago

I like your blog post. Thank you for sharing it with us!

Posted by Sarasota & Manatee Counties FL, - Listings In Paradise (SaraMana Properties - almost 8 years ago

Charles, so many little cavities that need to be found to ensure the buyer of a good decision. Leaks are tough but a buried box could have created so many other problems.

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) almost 8 years ago

Do you need a special license in Washington to stalk legally?  You should check into it.

Years ago we had squirrels in our attic (Phoenician word, translation:  big mouse with bushy tail) who took our insulation and built many igloo homes up there.  Damage?  You bet!  I had to trap them and haul them away.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Chris, I am constantly amazed at the stuff I find even in really pristine homes

Dave, now the snakes I can do without :)

Kate, I do try to keep the inspection fun---even when they aren't funny :)

JA, thanks---and you are welcome

Ed---drywall is not exactly the best cover plate

Jay, stalking in attics is protected :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 8 years ago


I envy you the glamor of your job!  Good thing buyers have someone as diligent as you.

Posted by Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ (Weichert) almost 8 years ago

Charles,  Aside from having a bad back they don't make enough Budweiser to make me do your job !   Happy crawling !

Posted by Bill Gillhespy, Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos (16 Sunview Blvd) almost 8 years ago

Would thinking like a mouse help me catch the little bugger under my kitchen sink?

Posted by Margaret Goss, Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate (Baird & Warner Real Estate) almost 8 years ago

Cue the music.(Star Trek - The Original Series).."To Boldly Go Where Mice Have Gone Before... To Seek Out New Holes............And Beyond"

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) almost 8 years ago

Irene, home inspections are the ultimate in "glamorous":)

Bill---or Heineken either

Margaret, for sure!

Robert---to infinity and beyond!

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 8 years ago


In response to Jay there. I would take a mouse any day over them Nutsy types. Don't let Steve know ,shh!

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Mr Charles,

You have done been rodentized and I knows that you enjoyed it too.


Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 8 years ago


Looks to me like Nutsy pretty much body-slammed you on this one.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 8 years ago

Don I would agree with that

Nutsy is that like "deputized?"

Steve, he did?

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 8 years ago

When I saw the "headline" I knew this would be a "fun" post. Fun for me, not for you being surrounded by rodent caca. But hey, if your job was easy, everyone would want to do it!

Spell check did not recognize "caca".

Posted by Jon Quist, Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996 (REALTY EXECUTIVES TUCSON ELITE) almost 8 years ago

Jon, I am always fascinated by the words spell check won't "pass":)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 8 years ago