Thursday, May 03, 2007

Caveat Emptor -or- How Not To Buy a House

3,500 Lbs. of Bat Guano Found in Attic

BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. — An upstate New York couple didn't think a few bats in the attic were much of a problem when they were buying a house last summer.

Months later, they found out how wrong they were when they discovered more than a ton and a half of bat droppings up there.

Nick LaBoda and Jenna Caputo say a home inspector informed them about the bats. They called an exterminator, who told them to wait a while before removing the bats because the babies were too young to fly.

Then they forgot about the bats until they smelled a foul odor in January. When they checked the attic, they found dead bats and piles of guano.

An exterminator says hundreds of bats had been living in the attic, leaving behind 3,500 pounds of droppings.

It cost $25,000 to clean up the mess, and the couple's insurance company wouldn't cover it. They're fighting it out in court.

Pretty Lady has no sympathy for these people at all. Because:

1) Who would buy a house without even glancing into the attic? Attics are Extremely Important! Pretty Lady herself would make a point of visiting the attic on her very first perusal of a potential homestead! Attics could contain trunks full of antique dresses, or Private Archives, or Chippendale furniture, or swords, or skeletons, or first editions, or hundreds of bats!

2) If the attic was large enough to sustain 3,500 lbs of bat guano without collapsing the ceiling, these people's incuriosity as to the contents of said attic was even more inexcusable. Such pedestrian minds do not DESERVE any attic at all, bats or no.

3) Who in their right minds would pay anyone $25,000 to remove bat guano from their attic? That, by Pretty Lady's calculations, is seven dollars a pound! For that kind of cash, Pretty Lady would have no trouble spending a couple of weeks with a shovel and a case of heavy-duty garbage bags.

4) Did these people not even think to contact a fertilizer company, or several, and auction off their guano to the highest bidder? Pretty Lady is willing to bet that whoever cleared it out is making more than a pretty penny on the transaction.

5) If these people knew they had bats in their attic, why did they not gather every evening at sunset, with a couple of lawn chairs and some beer, and watch the bats come out, first in ones and twos, in corkscrew flight configurations, then in a massive, eerie and awesome cloud? Pretty Lady has traveled to more than one exotic location and paid good money to do this.

In conclusion: These people are stupid and boring, and deserve whatever trouble comes to them.


k said...

Points #1, 2, 4, and 5:


#3 (and parenthetically, #4):

Reliable sources tell me that more than one case of rabies was contracted from handling bat guano. At least one instance involved experienced bat admirers, who presumably took precautions against exposure.

As much as I adore them, bats are famously susceptible to rabies. I decided against attempting a Bat House on my own property only because my vet and dad were both adamant that I simply didn't have enough room. A safe distance between a bat house and my own house couldn't be achieved. My lot is, unfortunately, tiny.

So. The k ranch has no Bat House. To my everlasting sorrow, I might add.

A couple other points:

First and foremost, the buyers were INFORMED IN ADVANCE of the bats' presence.

People who are forewarned, and then still have the temerity to sue, are people I have zero patience with. What a classic example of Not Taking Responsibility For Your Own Mistakes.

On what grounds do they feel they have any claim whatsoever, against anyone at all? Neither the exterminator, inspector, nor insurance company did one single thing wrong. Only the house buyers did. Where do they get off blaming anyone but themselves?

Second, should Pretty Lady ever find herself in the presence of ignorant, unappreciative fools in possession of 3500# of valuable bat guano and $25,000 to pay for its removal, let me know. We could have a fun Bat Guano Removal Shower. Surely, proper rabies-proof attire could be achieved for far less than $25,000.

And perhaps DC could engineer us a nice chute. Attics are usually above ground, giving us gravity, and often come with a window or two. Just like the debris chutes used in urban-area rehab, we could simply position it above containers outside on ground level. We'd dump the appropriate amount to fill a container, move the chute over to the next container and fill that, etc., until they were all filled and the attic all emptied. Voila! Who needs two weeks? We'd be done in a day or two.

The containers could be both stackable, and small enough for ease in handling. Perhaps 40# is good. That's a nice weight for me at least; not too heavy to handle all day, not so light as to waste time and effort; total containers, about 90. Perfectly manageable. Something like those square plastic milk crates, lined with proper Guano Holding Liners. I love to use those with my upright 2-wheeler dollies around the yard.

And! Then we could post all the pix we took, and blog about our interesting Bat Guano Removal Shower adventures, and would probably be nominated for Special Mention Crap-Blogging Award Categories. Categories all our own!

Those silly homeowners just don't know how to live.

Desert Cat said...

3500 lbs of bat guano!

I'm thinking of the *garden* that would grow!

Set one more person to work in the backyard with a tiller, and you'd be set.

Anonymous said...

1.5 tonne of batsh*t??

Apart from anything else that is one *well built" attic.

My friend Ann has a saying "As boring as batsh*t!" I'll have to point this article out to her and tell this was one time it wasn't - boring, that is.. LMAO!

k said...

Yeah, thanks Morris, I forgot to mention that part. That's important.

People this silly don't DESERVE a house built so strong they didn't even NOTICE 1 1/2 tons of haphazardly distributed goopy *stuff.*

I mean, come ON. That's one heck of a house, there.

And DC? The only reason I thought it best to containerize and remove that great furtl...ahz is, people that silly don't deserve such a great garden either.

And I can't help thinking, we might could even exceed our $25,000 fee in guano sales. So, say, keep some, sell some.

I hear a little guano goes on a long way.

Pretty Lady said...

Damn, k and DC, we could have had SO MUCH FUN if this had been OUR house full of bat guano! First the Guano Removal Shower and Blog Party (I'm sure the rabies problem could have been taken care of with simple items like rubber gloves and a respirator), then the stacks of guano crates neatly arranged on one side of the yard, then the gradual construction of the Best Garden in Upstate New York. Then the garden parties, full of twinkle lights, tiki torches, serpentine cobblestone pathways (designed and built by yours truly, with k providing sage advice from the comfort of her scooter) and exotic plants all over everywhere. And all the guests would be witty, articulate people who disagreed with one another about everything.

And all THESE stupid people did was sue somebody. Life is so unfair.

The Aardvark said...

The house wasn't the only thing with bat guano in the attic.

k said...

BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!! aardvark!

Yeah, but hey. At least we have FUN with our guano.

PL. I had NO idea you liked doing cobblestone paths! Now I want to post some Before & Afters of my humble little bungalow.

My pathways are brick, for ease in running wheelbarrows and so forth on them. The stone work paving(although not cobblestones there, either) I used as a sort of decorative boundary between the swale and the property. It's not curved, but that's just how it all shook out. The rocks were collected by us on our various trucking expeditions around the country with our little shipping business in the late 90's and early 2000's.

To my great regret, I've found that my talents lay in collecting good stones, and very much NOT in designing how to use them.

Something interestng about the scooter is this: it's great for hauling things. Like containers of stones...

I'd love to see any pix you have of your stone work.

I suspect if you and I and DC had a house together, we'd have to have sections that were only *ours* to play with. He likes to do *backyard bricklaying,* too. And then maybe one section where we'd all pitch in together.

And those wonderful parties! OH yes. One thing they'd all disagree on would be their Favorite Parts, which plants and rocks and arrangements and all they admired the most. Such delicious arguments to listen to while pretending not to hear!

And then...

Since bats are really hard to chase off, even after you invade their space and make off with all their guano, I bet right around sunset we'd be hearing a certain rustly sound, and muted squeaking, and halt our drinks' progress to our lips and all turn as one and watch those beauties stream out and form a cloud like a living organism, like a school of fish in the sea, undulating in the sky...

The Aardvark said...

Hey, k, I'm a free marketeer (M-A-R......K-E-T...).
I'm all for your ingenious guano-based schemes.
I've built a few equine-based compost heaps in my time. (Alas, that too doubtless contributed to our climate woes. Mr Rodale, how could you have steered us so WRONG?)


I was referring to the owners of the apparently robust attic.

Your last paragraph was lovely.

Pretty Lady said...

Oh, k, I am so sorry to disappoint you, but stone work is one of those things that I know I would enjoy, being temperamentally inclined for that sort of thing, but never having had the opportunity. It's difficult to do stone work on a rented fire escape.

Someday, however...

Desert Cat said...

If I had a house with you two building cobblestone and brick pathways in the backyard, I might just let you have at it, enjoy the results, and (speaking of never having the opportunity) actually take up my charcoals and paints again and see what I can do with this latent talent I have lying around.

Anonymous said...

"... but stone work is one of those things that I know I would enjoy..."

Unless you are a lot stronger and bigger than your photo indicates, you're talking about raking gravel around.

Ever try to move--much less lift--a cubic foot of solid stone?

Desert Cat said...

Oh come now bobert. Solid stone weighs about 125-175 lbs per cubic foot, and the slabs usually used in various decorative stonework are a fraction of that size. Even 12"x12"x 4" slabs are only going to weigh about 50 lbs each. Which is substantial, but well within the transport capabilities of all but the most delicate feminine flower.

This is all assuming we're not talking about building the Great Pyramids or anything.

Then again, in this hypothetical scenario, I have a feeling I know who they'd be looking at if any cubic foot blocks needed moving...

k said...

Yes, Desert Cat. We'll be looking at the Scooter.

Anonymous said...

Before you comment on a situation, you should do your research and find out the whole story. You need to keep in mind that the media very often does not bother to check into the details of a story and/or they don't bother to make sure their details are accurate. As a person VERY close to the couple in this article, I happen to know exactly what happened. Since they are currently in legal proceedings, I am not allowed to comment on details at this time, but I can tell you that they are not as stupid as you people and the rest of the media are making them sound. For your information, the bats and the insane amount of guano was NOT there when they bought the house. They NEVER forgot about the bat situation. You are NOT allowed to remove guano yourself without the proper equipment since it contains over 9 different carcinogens as well as MANY other diseases (btw, it is illegal the sell guano in this area). There were many other aspects of the "bat problem" that the media did not reveal that had much more relevance with the couple and the insurance company and the various aspects of this case. They are not "suing" the insurance company because they were "stupid and didn't bother looking in the attic." They are just trying to get back the insane amount of money they had to cough up because the insurance company did not pay for something that technically was part of the contract. Before you call someone silly or stupid, maybe you better make sure that you are not making yourself look silly in the process. There's always a lot more to a story than first meets the eye. I find it interesting that people are automatically taking the side of the big, bad insurance company without even knowing the whole story. You would think that people would sympathize with the homeowner that is getting screwed for something that was totally not their fault. Just goes to show how powerful the media is and how blind and "stupid" the public is that always falls right in to their trap and believes everything that passes by their screens...

Pretty Lady said...

Anon--this post was written five months ago. Nobody--but NOBODY--has read it for four and three-quarters months except you. Can we say 'pick your battles wisely'?

Anonymous said...

Just thought you might be interested in someone that actually knows the situation, but apparently not. As a person in the writing profession, I know that the best writers try their damndest to have all of the facts that they can before they work on a piece. I thought it important for you to remember that things are not always as they seem. Being able to see two sides to a situation is what will make your writing much stronger, MUCH more interesting, and much more likely to get a bigger audience. And, btw, people are still reading the posts about this story - how do you think I even found out about it in the first place?