Distressed properties are 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/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.
Today's adventure was about as bad as they get in terms of filth. There were pet feces (if not something worse) everywhere. All interior surfaces where totally distressed. To know that the only thing missing was the inhabitants made the scene even more horrific.
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. For confusing reasons, we were greatly relieved to find that, rather than being some dead cat or something, it was merely another sign of the "dead-ownership."
It is always the mental picture of the children of these distressed properties that bothers me the most.
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WA State, Home Inspector Advisory Licensing Board