If you are going to flip houses, pray that you don’t have a weak gag reflex. If you do, be prepared to wretch because you will undoubtedly run into carcasses and other stimuli that will get the old tummy gurgling.
Here are some of our favorites . . . or, no-so-favorites.
1) Animal piss – Yes, I said piss. Sorry, I know this is a family website, but “urine” or “pee” just doesn’t quite cover it. People allow untrained dogs and cats to live in their houses for years and the animals whiz everywhere. The carpet and pad get saturated. What doesn’t get soaked up by the pad goes right into the floorboards. The worst part is when you’re hauling the carpeting out of the house and the piss remnants go airborne. How do you know? You get a salty taste on your lips. Yes, I know, it’s gross. That’s why I’m listing it. The best advice I can give you is to wear a mask.
2) Clogged cast iron pipes – The pipes in old houses were made of cast iron and every imaginable thing that goes down the drain eventually sticks to the inside of the pipes. We have cut out cast iron pipes that had openings the size of dimes, the rest packed full of . . . well, full of the stuff that goes into a sewer. Try not to let this stuff drip on your shoes.
3) Rats – I hate rats. Hate them. I don’t have a fear – musophobia – of rats, I just hate them. We have found them lurking around a couple of flips. We removed a pile of trash behind one flip and, literally, stirred up a rat’s nest. They were running everywhere. When this happens, we bring Jefe’s terrier and the Fliposaurus mascot, Toby – the Tobisaurus – to the job site and let him have a field day killing the little devils. On those days, I call him the Tobinator. (DO NOT write to me complaining about the inhumane treatment of rats. If you do, be sure to leave an address and I’ll live-catch the filthy things and bring them to your house!)
4) Freshly dead animals – There’s nothing that will fire up my gag reflex like a bloated animal – skunks, groundhogs, raccoons, cats. I have to get a respirator to handle it. I’ve had to take a break in such work to hurl in the shrubs. Admittedly, I have a pansy stomach.
5) Petrified animals – Even if they’ve been dead a while and they are dried up and stiff, there’s something a little unsettling about a petrified squirrel smiling at you from the rafters. We’ve found dozens of mice skeletons. That isn’t bothersome. What’s bothersome is that someone was living in the house while they rotted away.
6) Refrigerator remnants – We have opened refrigerators that had not been cleaned out since the Reagan Administration. In some cases, the refrigerators have been shut off. This means maggots. I don’t hate maggots as much as rats, but they are not far behind. I attack the frig with a can of Raid.