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Lost a Client Today.....Then Found Him

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This will crack you up.

Doing a quick pre-offer inspection for one of my former students today on a bank-owned home. Not-so-old roof that's been patched - I'm guessing it was damaged by flying debris; a chimney that needs a new crown and has a wood burning insert installed with enough crud in the flue to fill a pickup truck bed - fire waiting to happen - someone walked off with the water heater, the usual.

I'm getting ready to go into the crawl and I notice he's brought his own flashlight so I asked him, "Are you interested in seeing what's underneath this sucker?" he said that he was, so I grab the spare cartridge respirator and coveralls, toss 'em to him and he suits up.

Then it's down into the barely two foot deep crawlspace. Slithered in on my stomach and realized that under the poly was a layer of pea gravel with water just about level with the top and higher in some places. I look around and the 6-inch thick fiberglass insulation is hanging down like dreadlocks off of Bob Marley's head and it's going to be a long, long, backbreaking squirm to get through this sucker. I yelled back out to him, "If you're come down here, you're probably going to get pretty wet and nasty," and then I forge on. I stopped for a second to glance back but it looked like he'd changed his mind 'cuz he wasn't coming through the hatch. I forged on.

Through the dregs, elevating myself over the ponding and dead rodents when I could, down on my belly squeezing underneath beams and pipes when I had to. I finally make it all the way around, avoiding one alcove behind the garage where the water was about 3 inches deep, get to the hatch and squeeze back out again, covered from head to toe with mud, bits of nasty urine-soaked fiberglass and with my entire front soaking wet. He's nowhere to be seen.

I slipped the hatch cover back on and walked around front to find the realtor sitting in her car. "Where's Abe," I asked her. "Don't know, the last time I saw him he was following you around back," she said. I thought to myself, "Maybe he went inside," so I walked to the front entry and yelled for him. No answer.....Oh shit!

So I walk around back to find him sliding the hatch cover back and slithering out, looking every bit as nasty as I'd looked five minutes before. Apparently, he'd been following me at a distance of about 15 to 20 feet throughout the whole time I'd been under the house but because the dregs were hanging down everywhere I'd been unable to see him back there.

No harm done - he'd gotten to see as much of the underside as I had and was able to figure out for himself that if he buys that place he's going to need to work on exterior drainage and downspouts and spend a couple of days cleaning out the crawlspace, reinsulating, installing a sump pump (if the downspout corrections don't do it) and placing new barrier material - all with about 4-5 inches between himself and the underside of those joists. What a backbreaker that'll be!

Still can't figure out how he came through there so quietly; hell, I was grunting like a warthog in heat from the effort.



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I've had a few clients ballsy enough to follow me down there a few times. Becasue I'm wearing my respirator and not wanting to waste the energy, I tell them I'm not going to talk to them.

I concur with your story; it's strange how you really don't hear much and it's easy to lose track of where the other person is. Maybe it's the heavy breathing in combo with the sound-deadening effect of insulation which makes for a very isolating venture.

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Your story makes me think of the yuppie couple that followed me onto the roof; first the garage then on up to the second story. Good looking smart kids that wanted to experience everything about the inspection. Nice clear day in the middle of June on the roof of a three year old house.

The young man did the best he could, then spread eagled flat on the roof and froze! She though the world was coming to an end and froze in a "Statue of Liberty" pose. Being the ladies man that I am, I immediately went over to the damsel who grabbed me with all her arms and legs and made me fall onto the roof. They both were screaming at the top of their lungs! She would not let go of me for a good five minutes and then would not let go of my hands and refused to walk.

The fire department came and took them off the roof with a ladder truck and made me get down the way I got up. We made the local newspaper without our names, thank God!

We finished the inspection, they bought the house, lived there four years, got divorced and I did two more inspections without their help on the roof!

I likely have gotten several thousand dollars in referrals from them over the years and am happy to say they both re-married and have kids waiting to have houses inspected by Mr. Van Alstine.

I love this business!

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