The first room you walk into is the kitchen. I set my keys down and leaned on the counter, kind of in shock. I think my sanity preservation instinct kicked in. I remember saying, "we just need to get some fresh air in here, it'll be fine." We ventured into the dining room and then into the living room. We were horrified all over again.
The seller had mentioned that her cats had the occasional accident on the living room floor. In all our visits to the house, we mostly only smelled cat pee near the litter box, and even then it wasn't any worse than you would expect near a litter box. We did catch a couple of wafts here and there in other areas of the house, but nothing severe. Even with Dave being allergic to cats, we weren't concerned about it.
We honestly couldn't figure out what happened between those visits and closing day a few weeks later. Maybe the cats got upset about the move and started retaliating on the living room floor? Hard to say. All we knew at this point was that the living room floor was extremely soiled with cat urine. There was a basketball-sized yellow spot in the middle of the living room, where a table had been. (Remember, this was our first time seeing the house empty.) There was about a four-foot section of the wall by the fireplace that was stained dark yellow from what we thought must be years of anointing by the cats.
We were so in shock and so horrified that we just stood silently in the living room for a few minutes. All that kept running through my mind was, "what did we just do?!?" As we did that first walk-through of the living area and the backyard, the displeasure intensified. It quickly became clear that the "move-out clean" she had done was not at all what a move-out clean should be. The counters had dust and dirt on them. The stove had a bunch of crumbs and food remnants all over it. All of the art that had been on the walls was removed, but all the screws and nails holding it up were left in the walls and there were really dirty outlines everywhere. I don't think the walls had ever been cleaned.
That wasn't all. There was a whole laundry list of things that were not as we expected.
- She had told us on two different occasions, without us asking, that she was going to leave the very nice patio furniture set and one of the fire pits in the backyard. Both were gone.
- She told us she had power washed the (large) deck in the backyard. Technically she did, but it looked like it was done by a 4 year old - still filthy.
- The garage door opener only worked intermittently.
- The dishwasher was not attached to anything, so when you opened the door, the whole appliance flopped forward.
- One of the living room walls was completely full of cat scratches - they were concealed before by furniture.
- There were random items left around the house, like a cracked vase (for cut flowers) on the back deck and a carry case for a collapsible lawn chair, and in the master bathroom, a night light that looked like a cat climbing into a toilet. (Oh, the irony.)
- The windowsill in the guest room, which had previously been too full of junk for us to really inspect, was water damaged.
- The kitchen cabinet shelves were missing support pegs, so they sagged in the middle.
- Multiple sets of bifold doors had broken hardware/guides.
- The walls in the master bedroom are full of cat scratches, holes, and dents/blemishes.
- Two of the three bedroom doors don't close properly.
- The motion sensor light on the back of the house, which she had said just needed new bulbs, was actually broken.
- The front door has large patches of missing/damaged paint. (We always went in and out of the garage!)
- The downstairs bathroom wall is damaged due to a broken toilet paper holder being allowed to scratch it all up.
- The master bathroom doesn't have a door. There is an extra door in the garage, but it has no doorknob?
It's probably good that we didn't have much time to brood on this, as the moving truck was backing up to the garage to unload. And so began a day of chaos, with the new house filling up with our belongings as planned, however now I felt sort of sick about it. I wanted to hose down the whole inside of the house with Lysol before anything we owned was unloaded. However, there was no time for that.
While the movers unloaded at breakneck speed, our first priority was getting our refrigerator and freezer contents from the apartment to the new house. I flung the refrigerator door open in the new house, and immediately had to try not to gag. It was as if someone had set a bowl of cat pee in that fridge and just let it marinate for weeks. There was spilled food and brown crusty stuff all over all the glass shelves and in the drawers. It hadn't been even superficially cleaned in a very long time. I hate to say it, but I really wondered if it had ever been cleaned since it was purchased in 2007.
Dave and I began frantically pulling all the shelves and drawers out of the fridge and freezer to wash and sanitize them, and the whole interior of the thing. The smell was so horrid. Our eyes and noses burned, let alone the plain ol' gross-out factor. We took turns reassuring each other that this would all work out. The house just needed to air out, we thought. Let's open some windows and doors. Let's Febreze that living room carpet until we can replace it, months down the road once the dust settles and we can afford it.
Little did we know...