What I'm Seeing Now

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"We Include Demustification. Not Everybody Does That."

A Realtor referred his neighbor to me.  She was afraid she had a lot of water in her house, and walls, and had called three companies to dry her house out.  One thing she had been told was, "We include demustification.  Not everybody does that."

Demustification?  Really?  I laughed at the word.

What did she have to lose?  She emailed me with her problems.  They didn't sound serious, but I asked her if she could scan and email me the estimates.  What a fun read!

This is the front of the house in question.

The house is 62 years old.  You are looking at the front corner, the corner of the three-flue chimney, and side addition.

Somebody had suggested years ago that she put those extensions on the downspouts.  They worked as she stopped having damp staining on the fireplace bricks inside.

That front room is the lower-level family room, with a fireplace.  There are original hardwood floors, not the least damaged by moisture.

Estimate 1 - attach buried drain lines to each downspout and extend the discharge further toward the street.  It included a crude map to show what they meant.  $4350

Estimate 2 - included a sump pump in the furnace room behind the family room, and another in the corner of the family room (how cute would that be!), in addition to new gutters and downspouts, buried drain lines and painting the furnace room walls with waterproof paint.  This included the very mysterious "demustification," and "fireplace wrap," whatever in the world that is.     $5800

Estimate 3 - totally verbal!  The "very slick" salesman (her words) offered all kinds of things they would do, including changing roof "things," sump pumps, new drain lines, reworking the rear deck.  He went on and on.  The verbal estimate was "in the $10-12,000 range, but he would not commit to capping the estimate because they didn't "know what they might find once they got into the job."  He wanted a check for $5000 immediately to get started right away.

Here is what these salesmen saw - single lady, in a well-do-do neighborhood, handicapped, wheel-chair bound grown son, nobody home during the day, and free reign to say what they wanted.  They saw $$$.

AS SOON AS I READ THE FIRST ESTIMATE  RECOMMENDING THAT NOTHING BE DONE INSIDE, I KNEW THEY DID NOT FIND MOISTURE.  ANY DOPE CAN RECOMMEND EXTENDING THE DOWNSPOUTS!  THAT'S A LOT OF MONEY FOR DOWNSPOUT EXTENSION!!

This is the front corner in question.

She had removed the wallpaper because one of the salesmen told her to do it before he could "properly evaluate the wall."

Some minor staining can be seen on the edge of the chimney brick.

Those spots are my paint jobs for this photo.

The round bluer spots registered 15%, and the lighter blue 12-13% moisture.  That's a bit elevated, but not significant.  It's residual from the recent rain.  And a very small area.

My thermal camera detected no moisture.

Now, wouldn't a sump pump right there in the corner beside the fireplace just light up the room!? 

I showed her the moisture meter, and the thermal images, and the lack of issue in the furnace room.  She had a hard time understanding that there really was no problem because, after all, three very nice gentlemen had told her what a bad problem she has, used clever words like "demustification," "fireplace wrap," and sounded very professional.

I have no idea what either of those things are.  And besides, there was NO musty smell!

"Then why did you ask your Realtor friend, and then contact me?"

"BECAUSE IT DIDN'T FEEL RIGHT TO ME." 

She was going to be taken and taken big!  Good for her for not going with any of those estimates!!

My recommendation:  when you have a problem, and/or get estimates for what you think needs to be done, it is a very good idea to contact an independent, experienced home inspector who has no financial interest the results of the inspection!  Surely it is very hard to know who will give an honest estimate for honest work, so the INDEPENDENCE of a home inspector is worth gold. 

Honest.

 

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 36 commentsJay Markanich • August 29 2011 07:21AM

Comments

Demustification..glad you could take the Mystification out of the word for her....and your blog audience !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) almost 8 years ago

Those people should be shot!  I am wondering though who told her there was a smell?  Sounds like that's what started this whole mess.

Posted by Nancy Pav, Nancy Pav, Your "GottaHave" Realtor (Century 21 Redwood Realty) almost 8 years ago

"First do no harm".

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 8 years ago

Excellent advice.  Good morning Jay.  Wow, your fee was well spent, saved her thousands. 
Good man.

Posted by Kenneth Cole, NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson (Weichert Realtors Appleseed Group, 2043 Richmond Ave. S.I.N.Y. 10314. office phone 718-698-9797, Appleseedhomes.com -) almost 8 years ago

Sally and David - this was comical, but tragic.  I know it goes on every day.  Demustification is my new fave word.

Nancy - I smelled nothing and I do this every day.  She didn't either, but was TOLD she didn't smell it because she lived in the house.

Lenn - this is what happens when you live in McLean.  You are a meal ticket.  Especially single women.

Ken - I even walked around with her after what I did to give her about 20 points on other things.  I even included those things in my report, so she had a list.

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

It's so sad how there are so many out there trying to take advantage of others, esp older women. I've had a few times where I've given estimates and the other are much higher and it's very clear to me why those contractors did it, esp when I can see it's the same materials used.  I've also seen many given them add ons that have no benefit...in fact one hardwood add on that actually caused the installation to be done improperly since the added sound barrier and cushion prevented the installer from both nailing and gluing (which is something you should do when dealing w/ 5" planks).

Also, the funny part was that it was creating a sound "barrier" to nowhere...It was on the first floor and not even a basement below it.  Sad.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) almost 8 years ago

Debbie - once the word is out that people can trust you, you are golden.  And YOU probably are golden!

Wouldn't hardwoods on the first floor actually amplify sound?  Hmmm....

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

LOL - Area rug would have been a better solution.

I just reblogged you.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) almost 8 years ago

Mr. Markanich, hang on there one minute, I am highly insulted as my "other" job is a demustification company I own. We work hard to rid people of those smells.

And the hardest part is that many smells are undetectable by nose alone... I have a specially trained dog who is a master at sniffing out smells that are undectible to the simple human nose. When he signals me there is a musty smell, I get to work.

The thing is, it is harder to remove a musty smell than it is to remove dust particles from a home. I have my must removal certification and have spent thousands on continuing education programs, which are required for a certified demustificator. I wish I could charge less for my services, but there is a high overhead in this business.

Being a certified home inspector, I thought you would have known this.... I bet Billy Jays knows this, I have purchased a few useful items for my demustification business from him.

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) almost 8 years ago

And I am sure that the "demustification" would consist of a duct tape covered can of Febreeze which would probably run somewhere in the neighborhood of $250.00 for the extended coverage.

Posted by Jim Palmer, Washington County, Florida (Chipola Realty - Chipley Office (850) 638-2777) almost 8 years ago

Fer sher Debbie.  Grathiath!

Andrea - and no doubt Billy Jays is right on top of this one!  You gave me a great laugh!

Interestingly, the best termite companies are the ones that employ beagles, or other good smellers, to detect the methane gas created by the termites.  They find the termites long before any damage is done.  But, I hear they aren't cheap!

Does your company sell stock?

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

Jim - not bad!  I will have to propose idea to them.  What a great "upsell!"

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

Jay, I can sell you some stock if you would like to invest. Let me have my people contact you, actually my CFO. Mac "the knife". Get your cash ready, he will come and pick it up. At this time we are not set up for credit cards or checks. I can promise you a great return on your invesment, I would say at least 200%. This is the fastest growing business in the US at this time.

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) almost 8 years ago

Thanks Andrea.  I will leave the money with my wife today as I have to leave.  Like I said on a previous post, it is best to be proactive and get in on the wave before everybody else does.

And thanks.

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

Good morning, Jay. Now that's a new one for the books! Demustification. Look that one up in yer "Funk & Wagnels"...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) almost 8 years ago

Michael - Oxford doesn't have it listed.  I don't have a F&W, but will look online.  Thanks for the tip.

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

Jay,

There is a special place in hell for people who take advantage of the weak and elderly. At least she was still sharp enough to ask someone else before sinking that much money into it.

Rich

Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) almost 8 years ago

You're probably right Rich.  But that's AFTER these guys pay the "utmost farthing" back to those they took money from.

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

Great advice in this post Jay and a great story, independent analysis of a situation is good practice. Banks require the same thing on most real estate transactions.  It is called an appraisal.

Posted by Al Raymondi, Ormond By The Sea Florida - Home and Condo Sales (Ocean View Realty Group in Ormond By The Sea Florida) almost 8 years ago

Sadly, "especially single women" persists. 

Women need to give up their dependancy on men for more than what to buy at the grocery store.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 8 years ago

Al - unfortunately appraisals don't do much for those taken by remodelers and repair contractors.  But they certainly are an important part of the real estate world!

Lenn - I wish I could get flyers to single women out there to have them contact me with their estimates on these things.  But, alas, I would probably never sleep!

That would be relying on a man however...

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

Jay - The world is filled with people eager to fleece the fearful or gullible. While what they did may not be illegal, it may carry stiff penalties in the "afterlife" -- at least I'd like to think so.

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru (TheHousingGuru.com) almost 8 years ago

Jay, being an avid follower of yours, not only for the education but the chuckle, i went to google to see what the heck demustification was and YOU came up on the top 2 spots lol.......even better

As i searched further ,this review of a company came up (name and site withheld lol)

"The work was done very quickly and professionally, and the cleanup was great. A few of the "niceties" like the demustification process were not completed. Also one sump pump was not connected properly".

Seems these guys are really getting around.

FOLKS, If something doesn't seem right hire a professional inspector first and the contractor second.

Enjoy the day

 

Posted by Don MacLean, Realtor-Homes for Sale- Easton Mass (New England Real Estate Center Inc.) almost 8 years ago

Wow...."demustification"......that certainly is a new one!  Good thingher neighbor put her in contact with you.

Posted by Christine Smith, Exclusive Buyer Agent & Attorney, Canton, MA (Buyers Brokers Only LLC - www.BuyersBrokersOnly.com) almost 8 years ago

Good afternoon Jay. Demustification indeed. Sounds like they need a debullmistication tool for their pitch. Really upsets me to see contractors preying on the vulnerable.

Posted by Randy Ostrander, Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI (Lake and Lodge Realty LLC ) almost 8 years ago

John - giving opinions of what "should" be done, and adding additional services (perhaps the spray the house with Phebreeze) can't be illegal.  But to do what isn't necessary is beyond marginal.

Don - that's very funny!  When you're the only one on he web "promoting" a word, it pops up!  Interesting 'tis the company that pops up in that consumer review... hmmm...  Did you read that, "ONE sump pump wasn't connected..."?  That means they put in MORE THAN ONE!  But, hey, at least I pop up on google!

Christine - it's a new one for me too!  I note this company doesn't promote that service online.  Gee, wonder why?

Randy - I laughed out loud when I first saw the estimate!  That's a service even Billy Jays hadn't thought of!

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

Jay, you are all set. The wife was a little miffed at being left out of the deal, that diamond ring and earring set she gave Mac the knife got her some of her own stock in the company.

Plan to retire really soon.

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) almost 8 years ago

Wow, thanks Andrea!  I could use the rest!

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

"Demustification" sounds like a great word for installing a dehumidifier :)

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

Debbie's comment reminded me of how some people I have met approach charging for their services. I get the impression that when they smell or sense money their fees go up. These same people always seem to me to be struggling for work. Is there a connection? Its always better to be fair, not just to your customer, but to yourself. Everyone is better for it.

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

What would we do without you to educate us?  I might never have known about demustification!

Posted by Marge Piwowarski, Phoenix AZ Horse Property, LLC (Phoenix AZ Horse Property) almost 8 years ago

And there was no musty smell Reuben.  I think it's a dazzle word to try to get the sale.

Jim - agreed totally.  My wife likes to buy what I call junk, for me to fix up so she can call it a treasure.  Sometimes stuff has to be dipped.  Sometimes after dipping it has to be immediately glued, as the 50 coats of lead paint are holding it together!  The furniture restorer we use charged us one price in our older house, and when we moved to this bigger one he thought what you said and tried to get away with a different price.  Guess who no longer gets used by us?  Give me a break.

Marge - I STILL DON'T KNOW WHAT IT IS!!  I got the education too!  Like I said to Reuben, I think it is a dazzle word to make a sale.  Look what Don said up there - one consumer review said they never got to doing it for them.  Yep, same company!

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

I had a similar client who got taken 3 times for the same 'bogus' problem before she got suspicious enough to seek help and found me. I told her the truth about her non-problem. 

I also told her if he or anyone else like him shows up again, just tell them she would confirm with her inspector and hand out my cards.

She's had no problems or been bothered since.

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

All it takes is to shine a little light Robert.  It seems to work with these guys.

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

Calling a professioinal home inspector is a great idea and one that has been often overlooked.  When you have had a home inspection for your purchase that number should go into the phone for easy redial. Who better to come out and diagnose that someone who saw the place prior to the issue who has a before and after?

I have the utmost respect for the home inspectors I have had the pleasure of working with! Each has saved my clients money and time and goodness knows when buying a home or maintaining one we all need plenty of both.

 

Great post again Jay!

 

 

Posted by Karen Paris, REALTOR, ASP (Keller Williams Capital Properties Fairfax) almost 8 years ago

Thanks Karen.  This lady was going to be taken big.  These guys sometimes see money (house in McLean) and think they should have a lot of it!

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

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