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I have seen a number of crawlspaces that have been littered with rat poo. In some cases it was light and in some so heavy that it would be impossible to crawl them with out contacting and disturbing the poo.

Does anyone enter such crawlspaces if it means comming into contact with the poo or am I the only dumbass who has done it?

Do you report it for correction? and if so what are the protcols for clearing the condition?

I report any evidence of mice or rat or anything else that might be a concern to my client. I have had clients refuse to buy an otherwise decent house for the sake of evidence of prior mice infestation. But I would like to offer some advice on a approved protocol for cleaning the mess up.

Chris, Oregon

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I've never been in a crawlspace that was so infested that I couldn't crawl them. I've always been able to successfully avoid the piles.

I wear a disposable Tyvek coverall, gloves and respirator.

What kind of inspection are you doing? If its a plain jane home inspection, then you have the right to exclude the area per your standards of practice.

Me, I promise a pest inspection with every home inspection, therefore am obligated to crawl 'em.

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Hi,

I've got two sets of coveralls, lots of nitrile gloves, a stocking cap, hell, even a painters head sock, a respirator with P100 filter and ratty old shoes to wear in crawls. If I have to crawl over/through it to get the job done, I do.

I draw the line at human waste though. There just isn't anything as nasty as a crawl full of human excrement and there's always so much of it. Bleaaaacccchhhhhh!

OT - OF!!!

M.

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How do you write these up?

So far I have been vague and have been recommending "remediation" but is there a proper way to clear a crawlspace of contamination by rats, cats or people?

I have read it recommended that one first disinfect the poo by hitting with lysol or bleach before trying to remove it.

Thanks, Mike. At least I am not the only one who swims thru rat and cat poo. It sometimes gets to me and I want to puke. Thats not good in front of a client ha ha.

Chris, Oregon

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I only occasionally come across rat poo. EVERY building out here has mice, from an abandoned farmhouse to a 7 million dollar manor built this year.

Mouse, rat, bat, cat, 'coon & any other critter's poo won't keep me out of a crawl. When I feel well protected, I get into places no one else has or will. It's only icky when I crawl over a recent carcass and it squirts out its innards.

When it comes to reporting on crawls, roofs and chimneys, it's painful for me to state "I was unable to..."

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

I have seen a number of crawlspaces that have been littered with rat poo. In some cases it was light and in some so heavy that it would be impossible to crawl them with out contacting and disturbing the poo.

Does anyone enter such crawlspaces if it means comming into contact with the poo or am I the only dumbass who has done it?

You're not alone. It doesn't bother me and, from conversations with other local inspectors, it seems to be pretty common for inspectors to crawl right through it. Several years ago, when Hanta virus first appeared in Oregon, a bunch of inspectors started to be more careful. That's when I went to a full-face respirator, p-100 cartridges and nitrile gloves. When I'm in a crawlspace none of my skin is exposed.

Even so, I won't crawl through human waste.

Do you report it for correction? and if so what are the protcols for clearing the condition?

For droppings from rats, mice, skunks, raccoons, cats, etc I say that the droppings are present and I try to give people an idea of the scale (extensive, minor, etc). I tell them to eliminate the access openings and, if necessary, have a pest control contractor establish a baiting or trapping program. Lastly I tell them to remove and discard the vapor barrier and replace it with a new one.

For human waste, I tell them to hire a plumber to fix the leak. Then I tell them to remove & discard the vapor barrier and replace it. The plumber usually treats the whole area with lime before he crawls through it.

I report any evidence of mice or rat or anything else that might be a concern to my client. I have had clients refuse to buy an otherwise decent house for the sake of evidence of prior mice infestation. But I would like to offer some advice on a approved protocol for cleaning the mess up.

Chris, Oregon

Many people are very sensitive about sharing their houses with these critters. I think it's important to disclose the presence of vermin such as rats, mice & cats. But I wouldn't give advice about the nuts & bolts of a cleanup protocol. To do it properly would take an extraordinary amount of time and, besides, it just doesn't seem necessary. I don't offer advice about the protocol for replacing a broken window, worn out roof or drippy faucet. Why start writing how-to articles for rodent droppings?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Hi Again,

I'm on board with Jim. I describe the scope of what I'm seeing as clearly as possible. Then I recommend they get in a professional exterminator to repair all vent screens, block all access points, make sure all hatches are repaired and fit tightly, eliminate any rodents that remain and then remove and replace any soiled barriers and insulation.

The 8-plex I did last week had a crawlspace that was so low that the inspector that'd inspected the building for another buyer had refused to enter it. I not only got into it, I crawled 100% of the perimeter, circumnavigating a flooded low area in the center, past several rodent carcasses and so many droppings that I described them in the report as "a field" of rodent droppings. It was literally the best word I think I could have used to convey the degree to which that crawl was infested. The buyer, whose bought several investment properties - some worse than this one - was okay with it. He just needed to know how bad it was so he'd know what he'd need to spend to fix it.

However, I've found that some folks - especially me - have zero tolerance to anything vermin related - particularly rats - and as soon as they hear that there's been a rat infestation they don't want anything to do with a house. I don't think there's any way to know how severely some folks will react to rodents, so I think it's necessary to make sure they've got as clear a picture as possible. If I see carcasses, I report them - even if they're nothing more than a bare skeleton, the same thing when I find urine puddles or soiled insulation - even when I think they've been eliminated. Glossing over rodent issues could very well be one of those things that could easily come back to bite an inspector badly.

Hmmmm, maybe I should re-print the story about the vapor barrier that collapsed under me years ago.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Well, I don't want to be left out of this exciting discussion. Ohhh noooo....

I crawl through rat shit for a living. I wear all the gear described above. I tell folks flat out "there's rats in the crawlspace".

Only 2 ways to get rid of rats; one is usually logistically impossible, and the other is politically incorrect.

One thing I've learned; the best neighborhoods have the most rats.

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It depends on the amount of infestation, but I usually put something like this in my report under Environmental Hygiene Observations:

There is evidence that the home maybe contaminated by rodents. Rodents can compromise not only the attic or crawlspace, but can eventually compromise the living space as well. Rodent infestation may be a health hazard due to the risk of contracting Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). HPS is a rare (only 20-50 cases per year in the United states) but deadly (40% mortality rate) disease transmitted by infected rodents through urine, droppings, or saliva. Humans can contract the disease when they breathe in aerosolized virus. Recommend following guidelines in the CDC's Clean Up, Trap Up, Seal Up article for eradicating rodents, cleaning up their waste and nesting materials, and preventing future infestations. While Hanta virus is believed to survive less than one week in droppings and urine, specific precautions should be taken during clean up. Recommend a qualified pest control specialist evaluate and correct or treat as needed.

Some may disagree, but it works for me.

Kevin

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Decent info, but can you translate it into how people actually talk? No one talks like that; even home inspectors. They only write that way.

You could take out at least half the words and still say the same thing. Think about it; would Fine Homebuilding or JLC write something like that?

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Originally posted by kurt

Decent info, but can you translate it into how people actually talk? No one talks like that; even home inspectors. They only write that way.

You could take out at least half the words and still say the same thing. Think about it; would Fine Homebuilding or JLC write something like that?

I'm not sure what you mean! Anyone with a High Scholl diploma would be able to read it and infer its meaning. It seems straight forward to me, but I am not an english professor.

What do JLC or Fine Home Building have to do with the way an HI writes reports?

Just curious...

Kevin

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Originally posted by Kevin A. Richardson

What do JLC or Fine Home Building have to do with the way an HI writes reports?

Just curious...

Kevin

Well, everything or nothing, depending on one's perspective. They're well written & researched publications.

I suppose if someone wants to go into the specifics of Hanta Virus in their report, I shouldn't mind.

"There's rats in the house; it's a health hazard. If you want to know all the specific reasons it's unhealthy, go to the State Health Dept. website, or ask your family doctor."

Seems safer than trying to provide medical advice as part of a home inspection.

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Hi Kevin,

I too understood what you were saying, but you and I work with this stuff every day and most buyers don't. They're usually so overwhelmed with the whole home buying process that loading them up with a lot of complicated text can almost literally fry their brains and turn them into sobbing idiots.

Kurt made some good points, less techno-jargon is better. How about this?

Tell them what and where. You said:

There is evidence that the home maybe (should have been may be, by the way) contaminated by rodents.
How about:

I saw evidence of a rodent infestation in the crawlspace - rat droppings and urine spots all over the vapor barrier in the crawlspace, torn and soiled insulation and a few rat carcasses - some obviously recently expired. It's obvious that this is an active infestation.id="blue">

Tell 'em why it's bad for you or the house. You said:

Rodents can compromise not only the attic or crawlspace, but can eventually compromise the living space as well. Rodent infestation may be a health hazard due to the risk of contracting Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). HPS is a rare (only 20-50 cases per year in the United states) but deadly (40% mortality rate) disease transmitted by infected rodents through urine, droppings, or saliva. Humans can contract the disease when they breathe in aerosolized virus.
How about:

If they've infested the crawlspace, they'll eventually infest the entire house, unless something is done about it. Some rodents carry hantavirus pulmonary syndrome HPS), a rare disease with a high mortality rate, so you're not going to want to be exposed to their urine or droppings or dust from old droppings.

id="blue">

Tell them what to do about it. You said:

Recommend following guidelines in the CDC's Clean Up, Trap Up, Seal Up article for eradicating rodents, cleaning up their waste and nesting materials, and preventing future infestations. While Hanta virus is believed to survive less than one week in droppings and urine, specific precautions should be taken during clean up. Recommend a qualified pest control specialist evaluate and correct or treat as needed.
How about:

Have a reputable professional exterminator block any points of entry for rodents into the crawlspace and eliminate any remaining rodents. Then have a company that specializes in crawlspace cleanup, remove all contaminated materials or droppings and replace the vapor barrier if necessary. Finally, make sure that you wear breathing protection whenever you enter your crawlspace.

For more information about HPS, visit the CDC website on the internet at http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/diseases/hantavirus.htm. id="blue">

As far as conventions to highlight the issue go, it's a matter of taste. When I helped a software company formulate their inspection program, we went to a lot of trouble to design a means for a home inspector to create and customize conventions whichever way that he or she wanted, in order to highlight an issue.

I've gotten away from using conventions myself. It's too confusing. Why have the client stop reading, in order to go somewhere else in the report to leaf through a bunch of additional text, thus losing his/her train of thought.

Instead, I just bold a title for the entry. In its entirety, this comment would look like:

-----------------

A rodent infestation needs to be eliminated: I saw evidence of a rodent infestation in the crawlspace - rat droppings and urine spots all over the vapor barrier in the crawlspace, torn and soiled insulation and a few rat carcasses - some obviously recently expired. It's obvious that this is an active infestation.

If they've infested the crawlspace, they'll eventually infest the entire house, unless something is done about it. Some rodents carry hantavirus pulmonary syndrome HPS), a rare disease with a high mortality rate, so you're not going to want to be exposed to their urine or droppings or dust from old droppings.

Have a reputable professional exterminator block any points of entry for rodents into the crawlspace and eliminate any remaining rodents. Then have a company that specializes in crawlspace cleanup, remove all contaminated materials or droppings and replace the vapor barrier if necessary. Finally, make sure that you wear breathing protection whenever you enter your crawlspace.

For more information about HPS, visit the CDC website on the internet at http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/diseases/hantavirus.htm.

-------------------

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Conventions. That's what bugs me. These individualized methods for alterting folks to something that's important.

I've been all pissy today ranting on about report writing. I think it's these oddball conventions that are goofy.

Bold type, underlining, or something simple is fine. Folks buying houses are all worked up, and a little something to draw their eye is a good idea.

But, if the language is so voluminous and obscure that all important stuff has to be found through bizarre individualized conventions, and it's necessary to reference a glossary so one can know what the inspector is thinking, one has to wonder if the writing might need a little editing.

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Well, everything or nothing, depending on one's perspective. They're well written & researched publications.

I suppose if someone wants to go into the specifics of Hanta Virus in their report, I shouldn't mind.

"There's rats in the house; it's a health hazard. If you want to know all the specific reasons it's unhealthy, go to the State Health Dept. website, or ask your family doctor."

Seems safer than trying to provide medical advice as part of a home inspection.

Kurt,

Would you actually put the above statement in a professional HI report or are you being sarcastic?

I just simply offered a statement I use in my reports...good, bad or indifferent. If I would have known that it was going to be picked apart and critiqued, then I would have not posted it on this thread.

I forgot why I don't post here very often (tuff crowd).

Kevin

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It's why I post here. Tuff crowds put me on my toes. I'm writing a book called "It Takes a Cage Match"; it's about surviving the home inspection business.

I might put a sentence like that in a report. I find rats in crawlspaces all the time.

I tell folks "There's rats in the crawlspace". How else would one say it?

"It appears there could be rodent infestation in the under floor space(s); poo poo was observed, there was pee pee aroma, and curious round burrows were everywhere, the size & diameter which could accomodate a large rodent like creature. Rodents can compromise a home's habitability, and have been found to carry a number of diseases, including, but not limited to, Hanta Virus, and also might carry fleas that harbor Bubonic Plague. There are rats in the tropics that have recently been found to be infested w/plague harboring fleas, so it's not outside the realm of possiblity that these rodents, if they exist, could have plague. I advise additional evaluation by an incompetent moron the realtor sends out to verify if, in fact, rodents are present."

Personally, I like "There's rats in the crawlspace."

I tell folks it's a health hazard. I do not extemporize about specific medical conditions I have no training or experience in analyzing.

Sophomoric use of language is the norm in home inspecting; it's part of the folklore of this strange thing that we do. Home inspectors, almost to the person, are insistent they know how to write well. I have no illusions or expectations that anything is going to change, at least not soon.

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Originally posted by kurt

It's why I post here. Tuff crowds put me on my toes. I'm writing a book called "It Takes a Cage Match"; it's about surviving the home inspection business.

I might put a sentence like that in a report. I find rats in crawlspaces all the time.

I tell folks "There's rats in the crawlspace". How else would one say it?

"It appears there could be rodent infestation in the under floor space(s); poo poo was observed, there was pee pee aroma, and curious round burrows were everywhere, the size & diameter which could accomodate a large rodent like creature. Rodents can compromise a home's habitability, and have been found to carry a number of diseases, including, but not limited to, Hanta Virus, and also might carry fleas that harbor Bubonic Plague. There are rats in the tropics that have recently been found to be infested w/plague harboring fleas, so it's not outside the realm of possiblity that these rodents, if they exist, could have plague. I advise additional evaluation by an incompetent moron the realtor sends out to verify if, in fact, rodents are present."

Personally, I like "There's rats in the crawlspace."

I tell folks it's a health hazard. I do not extemporize about specific medical conditions I have no training or experience in analyzing.

Sophomoric use of language is the norm in home inspecting; it's part of the folklore of this strange thing that we do. Home inspectors, almost to the person, are insistent they know how to write well. I have no illusions or expectations that anything is going to change, at least not soon.

It is on thing to be helpful and to provide consructive critisism, but another to be a "know it all" and arrogant.

I don't recall ever asking for your feedback on my post. If I wanted your advice I would have asked for it.

If you look at the statistics section of this site you will find that their are 2521 members, but only a handful actually post on a regular basis.

1. hausdok 3816

2. Brian G. 2056

3. kurt 1842

4. Chad Fabry 1154

5. Jim Katen 982

6. Scottpat 887

7. chrisprickett 881

8. Terence McCann 863

9. Donald Lawson 744

10. Jim Morrison 694

I wonder why it's that way?

Kevin

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Originally posted by kurt

Conventions. That's what bugs me. These individualized methods for alterting folks to something that's important.

I've been all pissy today ranting on about report writing. I think it's these oddball conventions that are goofy.

Bold type, underlining, or something simple is fine. Folks buying houses are all worked up, and a little something to draw their eye is a good idea.

But, if the language is so voluminous and obscure that all important stuff has to be found through bizarre individualized conventions, and it's necessary to reference a glossary so one can know what the inspector is thinking, one has to wonder if the writing might need a little editing.

Kurt,

Well, if you are so worked up about other HI's using conventions and think that they are "goofy", then why do you use them in your sample report that do proudly display to the general public on your website?

http://www.kurtmitenbuler.com/report/report.pdf

Kevin

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Originally posted by kurt

I tell folks "There's rats in the crawlspace". How else would one say it?

As long as we're parsing and picking, "There's" is a contraction of "There is", which is bad English in that sentence. "There is rats in the crawlspace." There are rats in the crawl space. [:D]

As to why most of the posting is attributable to a relatively small number of members...well, that's complicated. I will say that everyone on that list has been willing to either teach or learn, or both, for a long time now. This isn't the easiest place to post, but by posting a lot and exposing myself to criticism by the more experienced members I've become a much better inspector than I would have been if I had kept my head down. I've also developed a thicker skin and better mental judo techniques, which are useful in more ways than one. [:-fight]

Brian G.

Hiii-Yaaaaa!!! [:-batman]

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Hi Kevin,

No need to apologize. No harm, no foul. Perhaps Kurt and I should apologize to you. However, we were only trying to help. Unfortunately, we're both curmudgeons, aren't very diplomatic, are clumsy in how we go about it and it sometimes rubs folks the wrong way.

Just know that when folks dissect one of your posts here they're only trying to help you, because they see something that could possibly harm you one day or harm another inspector who unwittingly uses it for their own report.

I'm certainly not immune to criticism of my writings here. Why do you suppose I practically never post any of my own boilerplate here?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Yeah. Calm down. I'm an asshole on a regular basis. If an apology is appropriate, then please accept mine. No fluff.

We home inspectors don't have a corner bar to hang out in & trade war stories and test theories like almost every other profession. There's a reason all the journalists hang out @ this one bar downtown; they need a sounding board. If you've ever been in there, you know that they are, at first glance, seemingly a bunch of rude jerks. If you hang around longer, you'll see guys that were about to punch each other out go completely cool & talk about something else like nothing happened.

There are substantial parts of my report system that completely and totally blow. And suck. My sample report is not even what I hand out now, but I've been busy & haven't had time to change the website. Surprisingly, lots of attorneys tell me how much they like it. Go figure.....

I post a lot. Oh well. When TIJ first got off the ground, it was me & Mr. O' talking in the ether. That's it. Then Morrison & Katen came in. Then several more. Now it's a lot of folks. I'm just another guy in the list, but I've been around as long as there's been a TIJ, so that has something to do w/the large # of posts.

And, the act of posting is a tacit request for a response; one doesn't get to choose who responds. If one wants that, they say... "Katen, what about.....". Then, I'd leave off.

And I like how "there's" sounds. I know it's grammatically horrible, but I don't care. I live in Chicago where, if someone says..."Ober by dare", everyone knows they mean "over there". Something like "there's" makes total sense to my clients. Of course, if I'm talking to an English Literature professor from the University of Chicago, I'll say something else, but for the most part, I write like I talk.

When I put it in the written document, I'll trade off between "there are", and "there's". I might have to listen to Brian G. on this; he knows how to turn a phrase.....

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Originally posted by hausdok

Hi Kevin,

No need to apologize. No harm, no foul. Perhaps Kurt and I should apologize to you. However, we were only trying to help. Unfortunately, we're both curmudgeons, aren't very diplomatic, are clumsy in how we go about it and it sometimes rubs folks the wrong way.

Just know that when folks dissect one of your posts here they're only trying to help you, because they see something that could possibly harm you one day or harm another inspector who unwittingly uses it for their own report.

I'm certainly not immune to criticism of my writings here. Why do you suppose I practically never post any of my own boilerplate here?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

I had to look "Curmudgeon" up :)

cur·mudg·eon (kr-mjn) Pronunciation Key

n.

An ill-tempered person full of resentment and stubborn notions.

[Origin unknown.]

cur·mudgeon·ly adj.

cur·mudgeon·ry n.

Resentment eats at the very fiber of our inner being.

Thanks for your feedback!

Kevin

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