In this episode, Stephen tells some funny stories of experiences doing healthy house inspections. Tune in and have a much-needed laugh as we take a break from the never-ending news cycle. You might even learn something between laughs!
The transcript for the podcast:
Welcome to Your Healthy House. I’m Stephen Collette.
In a world of bad indoor air quality where mould lies in wait for the unsuspecting homeowner and volatile organic compounds rampaged through the streets, one man stands alone, opposing the forces of evil raised on the mean streets of Peterborough, tempered in the brutal straw bale industry, Stephen Collette says No, no to mould, no to formaldehyde, no to VOCs and no to cheap beer. Stephen Collette is the host of the podcast Your Healthy House. It’s about to get real.
Episode number 15 April 1st. A fool and his house are soon parted. Well, welcome, everybody. If you haven’t guessed April Fool’s Day here. I hope you liked the intro that my friend Erik Rosen made for me. I certainly do. What I thought I do today is just chat about and tell some ridiculous stories that I’ve experienced over the years doing indoor air quality inspections. Try put a little humour into your life, as we’re all currently at April 1st in lock down and quarantine and self-isolation. So I thought a little humour would help things along.
So the first story I want to tell it is a job I didn’t get to do. Unfortunately, and pretty disappointed. I was willing to do it for free just to get on site. But I get a lot of phone calls. I get a lot of phone calls from people over the years who have problems and try as I might. I’ll help them, whether that’s through the phone or whether I go on site. But sometimes they just call and things don’t go anywhere. So this phone call came from the wife of a couple living out in the bush somewhere, and she called because she needed an air quality test. And I was like, Okay, why do you need an air quality test? And she said, Well, I need a mould test. Okay, well, what’s the problem? She said. Well, my partner was growing marijuana and got busted by the police. So where I live in Ontario at this time, growing marijuana was illegal. You couldn’t do it. Um, and they were obviously repercussions. One of the things that might happen is they turned the power off to your house and you need an air quality test. A clearance test to get the hydro turned back on. So, um, anyway, she was calling me, and I said, Okay, so you were growing marijuana. She said not in the house were actually growing a few plants outside. So I’m thinking to myself. Okay, well, this is pretty straightforward. There’s really not gonna be any damage to the house. And they weren’t professional grow up kind of people. They were just growing their own dope in the back bush. I’ve done, a few grow up inspections that done by, like, mob-related people, it’s a little nerve-racking, but those are pretty serious high productions. Maybe another different podcast. So anyway, she says we need air quality test. I said Okay, so we start learning a little bit about the house asking questions because I need to know you know what else is going on in the house to make sure I’m not, You know, I’m gonna walk into a situation. So she did tell me that they have lots of wood stored in the basement like Okay, well, that’s potentially a problem, because wood has mould on it because it comes from the outside and there’s dust and there’s all sorts of stuff in it, and it can be damp. They said You’re gonna have to think about getting rid of the wood. And she said, Well, that’s a lot of work I said, Well, yeah, like, sucks to be you, but that’s what you have to do So okay, because she had, like, a cord of wood in there, which is a lot of wood. So anyway, talking about that and I said, You need to make sure the basement is really dry I said, Because if we have things like wood in the basement, then if you’ve got water in the basement that’s food, water and a warm place and you can have some mould growth. So I said, we need to get rid of the food and we need to get rid of the water. There is this pause on the phone, and she’s like, Well, it’s difficult for me to get rid of the water. We have a pond in the basement and I’m like, Sorry, and she says, Yeah, we have a pond in the basement. Um, and I’m a little baffled And she said, Well, that’s where the caimans live. So caimans are small crocodile like creatures. I don’t know whether they’re alligators or crocodiles. What family? Someone can tell me. But yeah, she had. They had caimans in their basement. Now I do not live in a tropical climate where caimans air rather common occurrence. I live in a cold climate in Canada, where caimans are not something that I expect to hear on the other side of the telephone conversation. So there’s a long pause while I’m trying to process. The word came in and I’m like, Did you say caimans? And she said, Yeah, we have caimans living in our basement. We have a small pool upon sort of place we’ve created, and we have caimans living there. And this is the point where things get a little ridiculous because you really shouldn’t have caimans living in your basement. So I kind of had to have the conversation about the caimans and that they had to leave or some sort of situation to try to deal with the fact that they have a tropical conditions in their basement to support the habitat for said caimans. It’s so this gets pretty serious pretty quickly and pretty ridiculous instantaneously, and I’m like, Look, you can’t pass an air quality mould test of you have caimans tropical paradise in your basement. You just won’t work. And of course, she was pretty upset. And I’m sort of trying not to laugh and sort of really wanting to go to this house now, because, of course, I want the photos like that be spectacular. Photo me with a selfie with the caimans in the basement as they’re nibbling at my feet. But try as I might Ah, I think she was just too freaking mad at her husband for, ah, getting them into this much kind of chaos and mayhem. And, uh, she never ended up calling me back. I never got to go to that job, so that was pretty disappointing because I really wanted to see the caimans. If you have caimans living in your basement please send me a photo, I would be delighted to see it. I’ll even interview what you on the podcast if you have caimans. So that was definitely the first craziest conversation I had.
Another one. Interestingly, a couple of these are in relationship to grow ops, marijuana, illegal operations. So this is another one where I didn’t get to go. But the gentleman calls me up and he says, I need an air quality test said Okay, what’s the problem? He says, Well, um, I had some plants and they shut the hydro off. And I need someone to come and do an air quality test so I can get the power back on. Okay, here we go. Right. So I get some details years another country bumpkin growing weed in his house and got busted by the cops. And so I’m having the conversation about the rules because there were rules at that time, very specific process, and it was a little overblown from an air quality perspective, but it was merely a paperwork processing thing that he had to understand. So I’m talking about the cleanliness in the air sampling procedure and where we sample and all these kinds of details and saying how expensive it’s gonna be because it is. And so he said, Well, I’m not gonna have time to get this done. I’m going to jail on Thursday, and I get you know, this is what he said. I’m going to jail on Thursday and I’m like What? I didn’t realize that jail had a check in time, right? Like you must show up for jail. Like Thursday after three o’clock, you’re you’re able to check. So this guy was like, Well, I don’t have time to do all this before I go to jail. And I’m like, Dude, I can’t help you. There’s nothing that I could do. Yeah, you know, don’t do the crime If you can’t do the time, my friend, I can’t help you. So, um, again, another disappointing one that I just wasn’t able to get to, Unfortunately.
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Your Healthy House with Stephen Collette is sponsored by the Building Biology Institute, a nonprofit educational institution dedicated to creating healthy homes, schools and workplaces free of toxic indoor air, tap water pollutants and hazards posed by electromagnetic radiation. Through a combination of online learning and in-person seminars, we offered professional certifications including building biology, environmental consultant, electromagnetic radiation specialist and building biology. New build consultant. For more information, visit our website at www.buildingbiologyinstitute.org.
So not all the things I’ve seen are giant stories or giant situations. Sometimes they’re just ridiculous little instances that have occurred to me. One time I was in a house, a little old lady living in the house, old house been in, been in the house for years and years and years. And I walk into Grandma’s bathroom and there is full shag carpet in the bathroom with the extra bath mat, the extra mat around the toilets. And, yeah, it was straight out of the seventies, and I’m thinking shag carpet in a bathroom is just not something you should ever, ever, ever do. For those who listened to the last podcast talking about boys peeing, you’re gonna take that pretty seriously. So that wasn’t even the craziest thing in this bathroom. This little old lady had a hanging swag lamp over her bathtub, which had a shower, so she’s got this hanging swag lamp that hangs down into the shower stall. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get both into the picture at the same time, because otherwise, it would be really spectacular. But it was not a pretty sight, not a pretty sight.
Another one I saw was a house, and it was a really old house 1800’s. Ah, Rubble Foundation had an addition or two on it, and it was brick. And so the rubble foundation in a cold climate can a shift it can, you know, with freezing and thawing depending on how well the foundation was built. Depending on how the foundation was attached to the addition. Because two different processes 1 may have a basement when they have a crawlspace that may move at different rates, Um, or just could be rotten soil just, you know, poor construction details. But anyway, this building had shifted structurally. Something had settled something and moved. And the brickwork it was really cracked, like all the mortar joints were cracked and you could see, like physically leaning the brickwork. And I was actually here for something else. That was, Ah, I think was an oil tank in the basement they had out of flood. And that’s some concerns about the oil tank and spillage and stuff. So I was in looking at something else. But I’m walking around the building cause you should do that. And I see that the old oil tanks, it was actually on its way out. I think that was the issue. The tank was decommissioned, but it was still there when they had the floods because they had gas. And so I’m walking around the outside of the building and where the leaning where the shifting of the brickwork of the building was at its greatest. I see this little yellow gas line plumbed through the cracks in the brick. So here’s a gas installation professional, someone who is trained and licensed and certified to install flammable exploding murderers gas into your house, and he will make the assumption it’s a he. He sees the shifting leaning building and the separation in the brickwork and says to himself, Wow, I don’t even have to drill a hole. I can just feed it through this giant gap in the brickwork and safely plum in gas into this house because first, sure, that shift ing’s not gonna move anymore and pinch this gas and fill the house with gas and everything will be a okay, um and yeah, yeah, on a scale of one to stupid that ranked pretty high for sure.
So another house I did. I get called by this mother and daughter and they live down in the big city and they have a cottage up near me, and then they have some concerns about air quality when they say, Yeah, well, ah, we can’t really involve the husband slash father because he kind of built it a bit, and he’s a bit particular about it, but we’re really worried. Said Okay, um, so tell me a little bit about the house. What’s a raised bungalow? And it’s a kit. You can buy these kit houses. Uh, and some of them are more assembled in Mother’s Depends on It depends on the kits. You have to build the basement, and then they basically come in and sort of drop in, assemble a house right on top of it pretty quickly. So I was like, Okay, let’s go have a look. So we have, you know, set up time. I get there a little early, and I beat them there. There’s nobody there. So I walk around the house and while I’m talking to them on the phone, I’m like, Okay. Well, when was the last time you were cottage? Oh, well, we haven’t been in the cottage in, like, over a year, like a year and 1/2 Okay, so, you know, I’m thinking it’s going to smell a little damp and a little musty, Like most cottages when they’re closed up over the winter. Stuff like that. No big deal. So So I get there early and, ah, like I said, and, Ah, they’re not there yet. So I’m just doing a quick walk around, and, uh, it looks like a regular race bungalow. Nothing too weird. Um, just a rectangular box. But I noticed the windows were open. Michael, that’s weird. And I’m checking through my notes because this is, like a week or two after I talk to them that we set up the schedule. I’m like the windows were open. All right, well, maybe they’ve come up between then and now, just, you know, get things ready for me. And okay, whatever. So they show up, and so we just started chatting, and I’m like, so am I. I noticed the windows were open. Ah. Did you tell me, have you been here since we’ve talked? And they’re like, No, no, we haven’t come up. And I’m like, did you not tell me that, um, you haven’t been in the house for a year and 1/2 and they’re like, Yeah, that’s correct. And I’m like, So the windows have been open for a year and 1/2 and these are like, uh, casement windows So they side to side swing open to the side, and they’re like, you know, open, like, not open a crack like open. And so I’m like, So you’re telling me the windows have been open through two winters? Uh, spring’s rains, wind, you know, plague, pestilence, the whole bit. And they’re like, Yeah. Oh, well, that’s unusual.