Not a Bozo Bucket For Sure

Home Inspector with SLS Home Inspections-Kankakee Will Iroquois Grundy Counties 450.004175

Not a Bozo Bucket For Sure

     About 6-7 years ago, I had an inspection scheulded for a client that was buying his very first flip house. He owned a carpet cleaning business and this property was only $30,000. I remember thinking how many carpets he must have cleaned to save up $30K. Nothing was really out of the ordinary on the roof and exterior. The interior was a different story however. As I was in the basement looking at a section of about five  2x8 floor joists, I saw there were termite tunnels and what looked like squishy wood. There were entire sections I could actually squeeze and compress with my hands. There were also a short couple of pieces of 2x6 boards that the seller had attempted to nail in to the termite infested joists to help support the floor above. By attempted I mean the nails were all bent over and barely holding the 2x6 in place. Essentially the 2x6 were useless. The buyer was with me and asked what it was I was taking pictures of. I explained that these joists were all eaten almost all the way through by termites and they had tried to do a sort of repair with these 2x6 boards. 

     He ran upstairs and came back a minute later with his folder with the seller's disclosure in his hands. He showed me the section regarding termites. Big check in the NO EVIDENCE OF TERMITES box. "They're lying to me." As the inspection moved along, it was evident that the termites had taken over the entire house and when I went into the attic through a small access hatch in the bedroom closet, I even found termite tunnels in the ceiling joists and roof rafters. The house was totally infested. He ended up walking away from the deal and the agent was not happy with me when I saw her later that week. "What did you say to him? You must have said something, you're always talking." I was just a little annoyed that she would think of the deal instead of her client so I smart alecky commented back to her, "I didn't say anything, the termites did all the talking." 


     Fast forward ahead 5 years and I get another order to inspect the same house. I remembered what the house looked like 5 years before so I was a little curious as to how well they did any of the repairs. I noticed right away that they had done the old Lipstick on a Pig remodeling system. There was new paint, a new countertop and a new $4000 SubZero refrigerator. Huh?? But of course I really wanted to see just what the termite situation was. They did not disappoint. Everything was exactly as I saw it 5 years earlier. Not one single board had been replaced in the basement or the first floor walls. Did they complete the cycle and do nothing in the attic? I set my ladder up in the closet and climbed through the small hatch into the attic. I saw the section of damaged ceiling joists and roof rafters, same as before. But then I saw the newest addition to the craziness of this house. 

     There was a very large mattress on the attic floor, with an open box of Little Debbie snack cakes, a couple 2 liter bottles of Coke and a paper plate of chicken wings with ants crawling all over it. Then came the big surprise. There were 2 buckets at each end of the attic floor. I was looking up at the roof deck to see where there might be leaks in the roof. The roof deck and rafters were dry. Hmmmmm, and as I wandered closer to bucket number 2, I realized what a dope I was when I looked in the bucket. It really was bucket NUMBER 2. The amazing thing to me was the sheer strength it must have taken to get that giant mattress into that very small hatch opening. I asked the buyer to take a look through the hatch at what I was seeing. I think that was the last straw for him. 

     I called the listing agent right away and advised him to get a locksmith over to the house and a cleaning crew to stop the insanity. No big Grand Prize game winner that day. One house, 2 great stories. 

Comments (16)

Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Scott - real estate definitely has stories shared where history is told and retold.  On more than one occasion, I have heard inspectors tell of a past experience with the same house.  Deja vu all over again comes to life.  Once again.  

Mar 23, 2023 08:33 AM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Estate Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate

Scott Seaton Jr. SLS Home Insp I had to read the last part several times to figure out what was happening.  Good Lord.  This post needs to be in my Crap-Tacular Group

I am amazed at what people do-do and don't do-do.  

Thank you for participating in the March Challenge. 

Mar 23, 2023 08:51 AM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Estate Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate

I just want to add that I find it appalling that the agent would be upset at you over your findings. The agent should be grateful!

"I didn't say anything, the termites did all the talking."  You Nailed It!


Mar 23, 2023 08:52 AM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Scott Seaton Jr. SLS Home Insp - you can't make stories like this up! It is unbelievable what property owners will do and think they can get away with it. This is one for the history books on termites. It is pretty obvious the termites were smarter than the owner and as long as the problem does not get solved, those termites will have a forever home, even if it crumbles. 

Thank you for your second entry into the March to a Solution|ActiveRain 2023 Challenge! Also, I woud love to sit in on a Home Inspector CE Class of yours. If you offer it via on-line education, send me the information. 

Mar 23, 2023 09:22 AM
Zachary Boutin, CPA
First Response Resolution, LLC - Eagle Point, OR
Oregon's Tax Problem Solver

Wow, I can only imagine how that potential buyer felt. The selling agent should not have been surprised or angry. I would never buy a home without a thorough inspection. Thank you for being diligent in your efforts to inspect for potential buyers and thanks for sharing this story.

Mar 23, 2023 09:28 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Holy "Crap!" What's amazing is five years later and the wood would have been in even worse shape. What were the seller(s) thinking?

Mar 25, 2023 05:24 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Scott- this is another reason why I never go in attics. What a story! I loved your comeback to the agent that the termites did all the talking. 

Mar 25, 2023 05:31 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Mar 25, 2023 06:59 PM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Good morning, Scott... you really can't make up stories like this. The second seller would be in a world of hurt here in North Carolina for not disclosing.

Mar 26, 2023 05:44 AM
Ed Silva
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

That is so gross on so many levels, including the listing agent that doesn't know how to look at a home before taking a listing.

Mar 26, 2023 07:10 AM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

It sounds like it was a miracle that that $4000 refrigerator was still in the kitchen and not through the floor to the basement or out the door with thieves if the camper/squatter could hang out that long in the attic.

Mar 26, 2023 08:23 AM
Lauren Williams, CPO, CVPO
Casual Uncluttering LLC - Woodinville, WA
Professional Organizer: Puget Sound homes

Scott Seaton Jr. SLS Home Insp A flip and not a scrap???? INSANE!!!

Mar 26, 2023 08:36 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Wow! This is quite a story. Thank you very much for sharing your experience.

Smart home buyers always opt for a home inspection.

Mar 26, 2023 09:50 AM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Scott Seaton Jr. SLS Home Insp -that sounds like the house from hell! You are doing your job and sometimes it is thankless. I look for inspectors like you.  I want my clients to have all the info before making a decision. 

Also, the main thing to me is ...

There are too many agents who care more about the sale than they do about their buyers.  This is what really disgusts me.  I hope the first buyer dumped that agent.

Mar 26, 2023 10:12 AM
Dr. Paula McDonald
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

Unbelievable that the agent would go along with representing a Seller on a home in this condition. 

Mar 27, 2023 04:55 AM
Anna Banana Kruchten Phoenix Broker
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

You just can't make this stuff up Scott - geez.  Twice!  Just wondering was the same agent representing that client the 2 time around 5 years later. Disclose! Disclose! Disclose!

Mar 27, 2023 01:52 PM
Scott Seaton Jr. SLS Home Insp

Nope, completely different listing agent. Original buyer probably did as is and thought they could flip it really fast and cheap. Original sell was 30K. 5 years later they were asking 80K.

Mar 28, 2023 06:12 AM