I was called on to do a very sad and dangerous inspection.
The homeowner and a local County found me on line and teamed up to hire me to literally condemn a house. I have never been called on to do that before. Of course I have no ability or authorization to condemn anything. But my report can be used by County officials to justify it.
THE STORY - a soft-hearted homeowner hears of a circumstance of an 86 year-old lady, who's husband had recently died, and a doctor has just "opened [her] up to close [her] back up giving [her] a short time to live." This homeowner gave her a house to live in rent free, as a "Life Estate Gift," for the rest of her life, so long as she maintained the property. She was to live in the house alone. Family was nearby to care for her, and could visit, but she was to live alone in the house. The house was built in the late 40s, and was in pristine condition, with recent updates.
THAT WAS TWENTY FOUR YEARS AGO. Over that time the rest of the family had moved in, and why not as it's free living. Nobody works, all are on various assistance programs, federal and local, and ALL are on disability, including the children. The lady is still 86 years old... you get the rest. They have cost this soft-hearted homeowner tens of thousands of dollars since. They cost the taxpayer way into five figures EVERY MONTH.
At the time of my inspection the house is inhabited by 10-12 adults (nobody really knows), four children, four dogs, two pigeons and a million roaches and black widow spiders. Super healthy molds live everywhere. There is one bathroom, with a tub and shower that do not work, a small fridge, small range and small, one-bowl kitchen sink. There is hot water.
THIS PLACE IS A DISASTER. SO I WENT ABOUT MY BUSINESS, BUILDING THE CASE. SURPRISINGLY, UNHEALTHFUL LIVING CONDITIONS IS NOT SUFFICIENT REASON FOR CONDEMNATION!
Of course this is a sad circumstance, to say the least. But the County has had many, many dealings with this group for years. I was told there was a coffin (!!) in the house full of enough guns to field an army, so the County was sending two officials to protect me while there. Fortunately, knowing I was coming, it had been removed or hidden off site.
This group knew I was coming to "inspect" the house, but did not know the entirety of the reason for my visit. As such, thinking their complaints were finally being satisfied by my inspection, and the County was finally coming down on the homeowner, THEY WERE VERY NICE TO ME. Nonetheless, the County officials stayed in and around the house the whole time I was there. I politely said hello to everybody and struck up conversations.
Before I went in, the Code Enforcement Officer told me that they had cleaned up and it looked "one thousand percent better" than the last visit. But, I was warned about what I would see.
I discovered something the County did not know, after all these years and dozens of visits to issue citations.
A BASEMENT APARTMENT! Living room and bedroom, taking up about 1/3 of the basement.
This scene was frightful and exasperating! The family living here, and apparently the four children, sleep on the bed. The curtain on the back wall is carpeting hanging from the ceiling and "hides" the oil-burning boiler and water heater. That sofa at the moment of this photograph has about 100 roaches crawling on it. Roaches are everywhere - on and in everything. And that TV on the left is larger than any TV in my house, and one of five in this house!
How bad was the basement overall? Neither County official would go down there! And I had a cough the rest of the day.
THE INSPECTION CONTINUED DOWNHILL FROM HERE.
THE END RESULT?
Based on just my verbal report at the end of my inspection, the County condemned the house and began relocating this group.
For my safety, they asked me to leave before they went back inside to inform the family of the immediate decision. I was told by my homeowner client that they put a red sticker on the door. I was also told that many County officials were there for the rest of the day, and into the evening.
The homeowner said that demolition could begin as early as twenty four to forty eight hours after my inspection. Yes, demolition was the goal of my inspection!
There will be more posts about this house. The first thing I did coming straight home was to disrobe in the laundry room and put my clothing directly into the washing machine, and take a shower. A day later I am still coughing.
As I said, it was a very sad and dangerous inspection.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560