Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

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bagelhead
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Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by bagelhead » Tue Apr 04, 2017 7:55 pm

There is a suitable house for sale that has an unusual odor. Everyone agrees it is not cigarette smoke, but no one can identify what it is. The smell only bothers 1 of the 4 members of the buying family. It makes that person's breathing feel slightly tight.

Should this be a deal breaker for buying the house? Or is the risk of making that 1 person uncomfortable (or even unhealthy) not worth it?

If they do buy the house, is it reasonable to expect the smell to mostly go away (by airing out the house and using charcoal air filters)?

bloom2708
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by bloom2708 » Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:00 pm

I would pass. There are lots of houses. This does not sound like "the one".

Odor removal can be very expensive and not work. There could be hidden issues that the inspection may or may not uncover.
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MoneyIsntEverything
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by MoneyIsntEverything » Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:00 pm

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bluebirdy
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by bluebirdy » Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:03 pm

I'd pass. No guarantee you can get the odor removed.

Doom&Gloom
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by Doom&Gloom » Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:06 pm

Deal breaker.

Silk McCue
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by Silk McCue » Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:07 pm

"It makes that person's breathing feel slightly tight" - how in the world could anyone consider buying this house?

delamer
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by delamer » Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:07 pm

Pass. There is no reason to jeopardize a family member's health. Continued exposure could make the asthma worse.

finite_difference
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by finite_difference » Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:13 pm

Sounds like you have a human air quality detector. I'd listen to it.

The cause could probably be a number of reasons (some harmful, some not.)

If you are curious you could order an air quality test and let us know what the result is :)
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ClevrChico
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by ClevrChico » Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:19 pm

I'd agree on passing.

A friend bought a former smoker's car. He bought an ozone machine, charcoal sachets, shampooer, etc. The smoke smell is still there! It's especially noticeable after being out in the sun.

Obviously it's a different situation, but it shows how hard odor removal is, and how futile technology is against it. :-)

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dm200
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by dm200 » Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:40 pm

bagelhead wrote:There is a suitable house for sale that has an unusual odor. Everyone agrees it is not cigarette smoke, but no one can identify what it is. The smell only bothers 1 of the 4 members of the buying family. It makes that person's breathing feel slightly tight.
Should this be a deal breaker for buying the house? Or is the risk of making that 1 person uncomfortable (or even unhealthy) not worth it?
If they do buy the house, is it reasonable to expect the smell to mostly go away (by airing out the house and using charcoal air filters)?


Never had that experience, but sounds like all of the family smells it, but only really bothers one. Since nobody can identify it, I would be concerned about what it might be -- and that could indicate a real problem.

Suppose it is caused by dampness that cannot be "fixed", or a body buries under the concrete in the basement or they buried dead dogs or cats in the backyard or some critters died inside the walls??

SleepKing
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by SleepKing » Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:49 pm

Deal breaker. That person could become more symptomatic, etc.. after moving in. Potential nuclear situation! Avoid.

bds3
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by bds3 » Tue Apr 04, 2017 9:07 pm

Pass and don't look back.

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Watty
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by Watty » Tue Apr 04, 2017 9:16 pm

bagelhead wrote:If they do buy the house, is it reasonable to expect the smell to mostly go away (by airing out the house and using charcoal air filters)?


It is virtually certain that the seller has already done that.

Church Lady
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by Church Lady » Tue Apr 04, 2017 9:24 pm

"It makes that person's breathing feel slightly tight" - how in the world could anyone consider buying this house?

+1
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Loik098
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by Loik098 » Tue Apr 04, 2017 9:39 pm

bagelhead wrote:If they do buy the house, is it reasonable to expect the smell to mostly go away (by airing out the house and using charcoal air filters)?


Say you make an offer with the contingency that the seller pay for air quality testing, mold testing, removal of dead people & wall critters, whatever.

Could you even then be 100% certain the problem has been fixed? Or was it just masked?

Pass.

curmudgeon
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by curmudgeon » Tue Apr 04, 2017 10:05 pm

I will agree the dealing with odors (or possibly allergens) can be a challenge. Carpeting can be a likely source (either pet/whatever in the old carpet or off-gassing from new carpet). If it is just the carpet, it might be manageable, but sometimes it is into the subfloor or walls and would be a major project to solve.

On the other hand, we bought a house a few years ago with a faint, but definite, bad odor throughout the main floor. It was a foreclosure, and the price/situation was otherwise right. The fix turned out to be extremely simple; haul away the old refridgerator with a freezer full of rotten food that was in the kitchen.

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tooluser
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by tooluser » Tue Apr 04, 2017 10:20 pm

Truth is stranger than fiction. Who knows what the smell is? Are you sure you want to find out?

Not related to the above, when buying my current house I learned several times and at some cost that your first reactions are typically correct for you. I ended buying other houses. Trust your instincts.

When it is right you will know or be gifted. Both times I have bought a property to live in it has seemed an urgent matter, but in hindsight it was not.
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by Sandtrap » Tue Apr 04, 2017 10:29 pm

Dealbreaker. I am that 1 person in the room with chemical sensitivities. Chlorine based cleaning chemicals, ammonia, solvents, you name it. There's no reason for even testing it IMHO. One person's reaction is self evident and obvious. Matters not that it tests "okay" by a third party or agency or that others are not effected. Health is a priority.
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SittingOnTheFence
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by SittingOnTheFence » Tue Apr 04, 2017 11:41 pm

I bought a house that smelled (the layout for moving in my aged parents to live with me was perfect). At the open house there were scented candles and incense everywhere. I was confident I could solve the problem.

I figured it was mostly the carpet, plus there were cats living in the house up until it was vacated. The house was 50 yrs old at that time. The owner had passed away in the house.

I ripped out the carpet and used a black light to find where the walls had been marked by the cats (a lot of places). I used magical snake oil on the areas marked by cats that turned out to not be very magical and a useless waste of time. I cut out sections of the flooring (some rotten from leaks), walls, and removed the baseboards. Painted several coats of 'killz' primer (which smelled worse than the house did).

It's been 8 yrs. I still get an occasional whiff of an odd odor now & then, my wife never smells it. Guests deny that they smell anything.

Odors effect people in different ways. If you are unable to clear up the problem you may find difficulty selling it in the future.

Good luck with your decision.

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randomizer
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by randomizer » Tue Apr 04, 2017 11:47 pm

Creepy.

Minty
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by Minty » Tue Apr 04, 2017 11:51 pm

Mold. Run.
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rosylenm
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by rosylenm » Wed Apr 05, 2017 12:19 am

The nose never lies.

Run and don't look back.

I signed a lease for an apartment while temperatures were cool and I had a cold. Come summer, I could smell the cat hoarder below me and the garbage cans.

MrJones
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by MrJones » Wed Apr 05, 2017 4:28 am

Wow, this thread. The agreement is strong on this one!

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F150HD
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by F150HD » Wed Apr 05, 2017 7:17 am

tooluser wrote:Truth is stranger than fiction. Who knows what the smell is? Are you sure you want to find out?


LOL

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F150HD
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by F150HD » Wed Apr 05, 2017 7:21 am

bagelhead wrote:There is a suitable house for sale that has an unusual odor. Everyone agrees it is not cigarette smoke, but no one can identify what it is. The smell only bothers 1 of the 4 members of the buying family. It makes that person's breathing feel slightly tight.

Should this be a deal breaker for buying the house? Or is the risk of making that 1 person uncomfortable (or even unhealthy) not worth it?

If they do buy the house, is it reasonable to expect the smell to mostly go away (by airing out the house and using charcoal air filters)?


I'm assuming your'e a realtor?

Unless it was some 100 year old farm house that had that old house smell (which can be kinda cool and expected), personally I'd avoid.

rick2427
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by rick2427 » Wed Apr 05, 2017 8:02 am

The house may have mold that is causing the odor. Mold can grow behind wall paper and humid locations.
Very difficult to eliminate mold.
I'd look for another house.

Good Luck!

likegarden
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by likegarden » Wed Apr 05, 2017 8:07 am

As a young man I once rented a small apartment in an old house in a small town. When it got warm the bedroom smelled a little. I thought that were the squirrels in the attic, now I think it was the bedroom mattress. After 2 years I moved away. There once was a fixer-upper TV show where they had to remove all floors and lower parts of sheetrock to remove the mess and odors created by a bad hoarder.
I would not buy that house. You should want to have clean air.

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alpenglow
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by alpenglow » Wed Apr 05, 2017 8:22 am

My sister in-law bought a house that smelled. It's been about 8 years now and it still smells. Anything that comes from her house smells. The whole family needs to change clothes as soon as we get back from her place. It even gets into our hair. Terrible. Part of the smell is from an oil leak in the basement before they bought the home. The previous owners were hoarders with cats that saturated the floor boards with urine. Even with practically gutting the place, it still smells.

Hard pass!

Rupert
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by Rupert » Wed Apr 05, 2017 9:18 am

What does it smell like? Mold? Urine? Sewer gas? (If it has a bathroom that isn't used often, sewer gas can seep into the house through a dry drain.) Something, such as insulation, off-gassing?

AlwaysBeClimbing
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by AlwaysBeClimbing » Wed Apr 05, 2017 10:23 am

If only one person smelled it, I might investigate further as to why. The fact that everyone smells it( even if it really only bothers one ) says, it's real. Why take a chance, unless your just in love with the house and are willing to spend whatever it takes in terms of money and aggravation( could be a little or a whole lot) to make it right.

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lthenderson
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by lthenderson » Wed Apr 05, 2017 10:30 am

bagelhead wrote:There is a suitable house for sale that has an unusual odor. Everyone agrees it is not cigarette smoke, but no one can identify what it is. The smell only bothers 1 of the 4 members of the buying family. It makes that person's breathing feel slightly tight.

Should this be a deal breaker for buying the house? Or is the risk of making that 1 person uncomfortable (or even unhealthy) not worth it?

If they do buy the house, is it reasonable to expect the smell to mostly go away (by airing out the house and using charcoal air filters)?


Has it been sitting empty or is it currently lived in?

I can't think of a single time I've walked in a house that has been sitting empty for awhile that hasn't smelled odd. Tight houses without circulation will smell over time.

If it is lived in currently, it could be due to the current occupants. Their cooking, their lifestyle, etc. may all influence the ambient air smell.

I would inspect it thoroughly. If there was obvious water damage or had been some in the past, it might be the presence of mold. If there are no signs of water, I would start sticking my nose on walls and in carpet to assess where the odor is coming from. Generally after pulling carpeting and repainting everything, smells go away... unless there are water issues.

white_water
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by white_water » Wed Apr 05, 2017 10:38 am

A neighbor bought a house with an odor. The eventual fix after using several other deodorizing strategies was to pull out all carpets, pads, flooring, sub flooring down to the joists and start over.

vveat
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by vveat » Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:37 am

When we bought our house one room smelled. We were novices, this was a fixer upper anyway, and we decided the owners cat had peed on the carpet. Well, when we pulled the carpet out we encountered a lot of rotting wood, lack of insulation, etc. Resolvable, no serious mold issue, but this added a couple of weeks and extra cost to basically rip out everything and replace.

Better safe than sorry, walk away

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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by Fallible » Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:50 am

Silk McCue wrote:"It makes that person's breathing feel slightly tight" - how in the world could anyone consider buying this house?


Agree. This physical reaction makes the odor problem a health problem, and anything that affects breathing is a serious, even potentially life-threatening problem.
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randomguy
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by randomguy » Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:58 am

vveat wrote:When we bought our house one room smelled. We were novices, this was a fixer upper anyway, and we decided the owners cat had peed on the carpet. Well, when we pulled the carpet out we encountered a lot of rotting wood, lack of insulation, etc. Resolvable, no serious mold issue, but this added a couple of weeks and extra cost to basically rip out everything and replace.

Better safe than sorry, walk away



Or get a 20k discount (or whatever you think is right) to deal with the problem. It sort of depends on how unique the house is in meeting your needs. Definitely not something that you want to deal but it probably ins't an unsolveable issue. The question is trying to figure out how much it will cost in time and money. It could be that you just need a couple coats of paint. It could be tearing out all the dry wall and carpets.

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IFRider
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by IFRider » Wed Apr 05, 2017 12:29 pm

lthenderson wrote:Has it been sitting empty or is it currently lived in?

I can't think of a single time I've walked in a house that has been sitting empty for awhile that hasn't smelled odd. Tight houses without circulation will smell over time.

If it is lived in currently, it could be due to the current occupants. Their cooking, their lifestyle, etc. may all influence the ambient air smell.

I would inspect it thoroughly. If there was obvious water damage or had been some in the past, it might be the presence of mold. If there are no signs of water, I would start sticking my nose on walls and in carpet to assess where the odor is coming from. Generally after pulling carpeting and repainting everything, smells go away... unless there are water issues.


+1

I looked at a lot of houses while shopping and they all smelled funny. The house I ended up buying had a terrible 'dirty feet' smell in a lower level bedroom. I use the room for storage and occasionally open the window down there. After a few months, the smell went away.

MI_bogle
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Re: Buying House with Odor (not cigarette)

Post by MI_bogle » Wed Apr 05, 2017 12:33 pm

IFRider wrote:
lthenderson wrote:Has it been sitting empty or is it currently lived in?

I can't think of a single time I've walked in a house that has been sitting empty for awhile that hasn't smelled odd. Tight houses without circulation will smell over time.

If it is lived in currently, it could be due to the current occupants. Their cooking, their lifestyle, etc. may all influence the ambient air smell.

I would inspect it thoroughly. If there was obvious water damage or had been some in the past, it might be the presence of mold. If there are no signs of water, I would start sticking my nose on walls and in carpet to assess where the odor is coming from. Generally after pulling carpeting and repainting everything, smells go away... unless there are water issues.


+1

I looked at a lot of houses while shopping and they all smelled funny. The house I ended up buying had a terrible 'dirty feet' smell in a lower level bedroom. I use the room for storage and occasionally open the window down there. After a few months, the smell went away.


+2
Houses often smell odd because we are used to our environment, and going into another persons house ecosystem is a change. And we notice it.

My house smelled distasteful when I bought it, a combo of pets (2 cats and a small dog) the previous owner had, and basement carpet. A musty animal odor combined with a sickly air freshener smell they used to try to cover it up.

I ripped out all the basement carpet, gave the floor underneath a hard scrub, and 2 months later you would never know the smell existed. Plus our own existence in the house is populating it with "our" smell

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