I'm not in the construction trade, but what guy would pass up the opportunity to be like Bob Vila for a few weeks while making a few dollars? If you are familiar with the neighborhoods in between IH-10 and Loop 410 between Vance-Jackson and West Avenue, you get the idea of where I am talking about.
My brother-in-law, Junior as we call him, works in the trades business. He is certainly a jack of all trades and can do electrical, plumbing, general construction, and he has also done repair of restaurant equipment and other things. This is no free advertisement or anything - so please don't e-mail me asking to see if I can get you a good rate. During the time of this story, we had been working to refurbish several rental properties around the city and had a few different property managers and Realtors that would call us for bids.
So anyway, he calls me and asks me if I can go look at a property to help him assess the situation. He says that this Realtor has a property that was vacated by the renters and that the house needs to be cleaned up. Now keep in mind, you all know that when people leave a rental property, they usually just un-ass, take the stuff they want and leave the rest. The result is, the landlord is stuck with hauling out the trash, getting rid of a dead couch and cleaning things up. A few guys and a pick-up truck can usually clear out a house in no time.
The Realtor said that “Before you make your bid, you really need to go look at the place.” Junior was pretty adamant that he could get the job done for less than $500.00. The Realtor again said, “No, you need to see the place”.
You have no doubt heard of cat ladies that have 68 cats living in a house, crapping everywhere, newspapers piled up, opened cans of cat food sitting all over the place. This was worse. No cats.
The people who lived in the house were no doubt sick.
When I first peered through the window, I though I might be in beer drinker’s heaven. It was this experience which taught me to take my camera with me everywhere I go. If I had the camera to take pictures, you might find it easier to believe this.
This 3 bedroom, 2-bath house was a sea of beer cans and trash piled 2 feet high. But, they had small paths leading to strategic locations like the refrigerator, the bathroom, and the front door. I refused to enter the house for fear of rats. The beer cans and the 18-pack cardboard cases were left in place as if the occupants had simply arranged to have a non-stop supply of beer delivered, and that they sat there and drank one beer, dropped the can and opened the next. When the first case was finished, they simply opened the next and so on and so on until their was an 1,800 square foot house full of beer cans, pizza boxes, dirty laundry, discarded tissues and so on.
Oh, the bathrooms were a hoot. And yes, beer cans in the bathrooms. The walls of the shower stall and the tub were covered in mold. And for some reason, they stopped putting the toilet paper in the toilet – they just wiped their butts and threw the toilet paper on the floor. Perhaps they had visited
So, long story short, Junior had to hire some other workers he found to clear out the entire house. In addition to $650.00, he told them they could take anything that wasn’t nailed down that they wanted (nice side by side refrigerator at Best Buy - $1,200 – the mold encased version, free). These guys came in with gloves, masks, shovels and a huge truck and cleared the place in a matter of hours.
You can empty the contents, but you can’t empty the filth. That’s when I showed up with a power washer. Bob Vila would never recommend using a power washer inside a house on solid wood floors and sheetrock. I march to the beat of a different drummer I suppose.
The worst part was when I aimed the power washer at one of the toilets.
Apparently, when they decided that the toilet was running too much, they decided to turn off the water supply to it. Well, apparently, that didn’t stop someone from taking a dump in it. By the time I got there with my power washer, the poop in the pot had dried. Dried feces and 2300 psi from the power washer equals a whole new game of foul smelling doo-doo flying back at you.
Thank God I have fast reflexes. But I could not dodge the smell. I literally threw up on the spot.
I ran out of the house and threw up in the yard. I waited a few minutes to regain my composure and decided to go in for another whiff. I threw up again.
In the end, I had to hold my breath long enough to get a hose through the bathroom window into the toilet so I could try to clear things up. I let the hose run full blast for 15 minutes before it cleared the funk from the bathroom. Oh, it was a total of 4 times that I threw up.
Okay, three days later, the house was clean and the real estate lady did not even recognize the place. She was in shock. Turns out, it was her house and she had been letting her daughter and her family live there, and the reason the house was vacated was that she had moved them into a new house she bought in a nicer neighborhood.