Signs and notes are a great help to warn and inform the inspectors about the house.
Today, Reuben shares their compiled notes, signs, and warnings that were left by home sellers during inspections from the last 15 years. They talk about hilarious signs and notes on toilets, switches, doors, panels, among others.
Checkout the entertaining blog post here Signs, warnings, and notes left by sellers – Structure Tech Home Inspections.
The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it may be slightly incomplete or contain minor inaccuracies due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
Reuben Saltzman: Welcome to my house. Welcome to the Structure Talk podcast, a production of Structure Tech Home inspections. My name is Reuben Saltzman. I’m your host alongside building science geek Tessa Murray. We help home inspectors up their game through education, and we help homeowners to be better stewards of their houses. We’ve been keeping it real on this podcast since 2019, and we are also the number one home inspection podcast in the world, according to my mom. What’s up Tessa? Time for another episode. Good to see you on here today.
Tessa Murry: Hey, Reuben. Good to see you, too. What are we talking about today?
RS: Today we’re going to discuss a recent blog post I did. This was a ton of research and it’s extremely educational and it, wait a minute. No, I’m just kidding. [laughter], there’s no educational value whatsoever. I did no research. However, I did have to sort through a lot of old photos to come up with this blog post, which we are converting to a podcast. I don’t know how good of content this is gonna be. This is all about our favorite notes and signs and warnings left behind by home sellers. But you know what? We could read ’em aloud. I think it’d be interesting to go over this. I think it’d be funny. What do you say?
TM: I think so, too. Yeah. And this is just for entertainment value. If you wanna see pictures of these signs, check out Reuben’s blog on our website.
RS: Yeah. And we will put a link to this blog post in the show notes if you’d like to follow along. And we’ll go through all these signs in the same order.
RS: That’s what you can do if you wanna see ’em. But Tessa, why don’t you start us off with sign number one.
TM: Before I jump into that, I was just gonna ask you, how far back did you go in our library of pictures? I mean, like, how many years are we talking like pictures from the last year or two or are we going back like 10 years?
RS: 15 years?
TM: 15 years.
RS: 2008. Yep. I think that’s when we first set up a Facebook account and started doing a Facebook photo of the day was sometime in 2008. And that’s how far back I went through these photos.
TM: Oh my gosh. So this is like the best of compilation for 15 years of content. Thousands of home.
RS: And I’ve got. Yes. And I’ve got 15 notes. [laughter] So we’re really setting this up. These better really be great. [laughter] I’m, we’re surely not gonna deliver on how we’re setting this up but we’ll try.
TM: Well I was gonna say, you know what, I’m sure there’s hundreds and hundreds of pictures of hilarious notes that we’ve taken over the years with our team, with the team, and with all these houses that we inspect. But these are just the ones that popped out to you, and I’m sure made you laugh when you were going through the library.
RS: You’re right. Yes I love these.
TM: Okay, so this first one, someone went to the trouble of actually like typing out a note on their computer and printing it off. And it says, home has been winterized. And then underneath it, they hand wrote in quotes, best possible. And how did they spell possible Reuben can you spell that?
TM: Oh, well, close.
RS: Yeah, they’re close.
TM: Close enough. We all know what they mean. And then underneath it, it’s typed out. Again, do not use, and this is not posted on a sink or on a toilet. Is this just posted like on a front door?
RS: It’s on the front door yeah.
TM: Do not use means what? Don’t, don’t use the house.
RS: Don’t turn on the water. I, I think that’s what it means. Don’t use any of the fixtures, but the part about best possible really reduces my confidence. I mean, when I see that, what I hear is the house has not been winterized. Like [laughter]
TM: What does that even mean? Yeah.
RS: It means I got paid to winterize the house and I wasn’t sure exactly what to do. So I did what I could. And there’s probably some water still in there, so whenever the water does get turned on, good luck. You’re probably gonna have leaks. That’s what I’m hearing.
TM: Best possible. That’s hilarious. Yeah. And the spelling doesn’t give me any extra confidence in the person that was doing winterizing so.
RS: No it does not.
TM: Yeah. Not a lot of faith. What’s the next one say? Can you read that?
RS: All right. Next one. And this is along the same lines. And these photos surely come from about 2008, 2009, back when everything was a foreclosure. Everybody was winterizing houses and you had all these vacant houses. This one, it’s got a picture of copper piping and it says, no copper here anymore! And then, and then it in blue it says stolen [laughter] And then it says pax only. And then in parenthesis that’s plastic. Have a nice day. So.
TM: Have a nice day.
RS: Have a nice day. So this is a note to potential copper thieves, telling ’em, hey, don’t burst into this house and try to steal all our pipes, ’cause someone already beat you to it. Someone done, gone and stole all the copper out of this house and there’s nothing left for you. So don’t even try it. So.
TM: And for you thieves that don’t know what Pax is, we’re gonna tell you it’s plastic.
RS: It’s plastic. Yes. Yes, exactly. Delightful. Love that one.
TM: Oh my gosh. Wow.
RS: Next, what do we got? Tess?
TM: Looks like a handwritten note with blue marker that’s been taped to an electrical panel. Is that correct? The exterior electrical panel. And it says, be careful, some circuits are mislabeled. [laughter],
RS: I love it.
TM: What? What would you do if, if you’re inspecting that panel and you see that.
RS: Well, number one, mislabeled is misspelled.
TM: Misspelled. Yes.
RS: So I’ll take your word for it. I’m sure that plenty of are mislabeled. And I just, I would take a picture of the sign and I’d say, don’t trust the labels in the panel. The seller clearly has told you that they’re not labeled right. But if you’re gonna go to the work of doing that, why not just go ahead and label ’em? Right? I mean, I know it takes some time, but here, here’s the trick. You get a stereo, you plug it into an outlet, and then you turn it up loud, you go to your breaker panel and you start shutting off circuits until you hear your stereo turn off. And then you go back.
TM: Hey that’s a smart trick. Yeah.
RS: My dad taught me that a long, long time ago. Very effective.
TM: That’s a good nugget. Thanks Neil, yeah, the thing that cracks me up about that is they write, be careful. Instead of just saying like, some circuits are mislabeled or saying like the labels are not a hundred percent accurate. It’s like, “Be careful.” [laughter]
RS: Yes, yes. Love it. Now, along those same lines, I got another panel. Now, this one it’s the opposite though. On a lot of houses you’ll have those tags that real estate agents will put all over the house, highlighting some features of the home.
RS: Like, “This home has a jacuzzi look in here, open the closet. There’s this in here. Well, this one… “
TM: Right. In floor heat. Yeah.
RS: In floor… Yeah, exactly. All these selling features about the house. Well, this one, it’s the first one we’ve ever seen like this. And the selling feature was clearly labeled electrical panel.
TM: In a very official looking note. It’s been typed out. Yeah.
RS: Yes. And so this real estate agent has surely seen mislabeled circuits on a lot of home inspection reports. And they’re like, “All right, home inspectors do not like seeing this. And we’re gonna get in front of this one and just, we’re gonna call this a selling feature.” I’ve never thought of this being a selling feature, but I’m not criticizing it. I still love this.
TM: It’s really funny…
RS: Good for you. Yeah.
TM: I wish we had a picture of the inside of that panel to go along.
RS: I was just thinking the same thing Tess. Was it printed out and color coded? I wanna know.
TM: Yeah, me too. Me too. Okay, the next one says, it’s a picture of a… There’s two light switches and then there’s a outlet right next to it. And these two switches, one is labeled, it has disposer labeled on it. The next switch says, do not touch. This means you Bree.
RS: What has Bree been doing? Man she must be touching a lot of switches she’s got no business touching.
TM: And someone went to the trouble to like actually use one of those label makers.
TM: It looks like to print these things out…
RS: Yes. This is not just handwritten.
TM: Yeah. So you have to get really close to the switch to be able to read. This means you Bree.
RS: Yeah. This is serious. Bree, you better keep your hands off those switches.
TM: Bree, if you’re listening and you know what this means, will you please tell us?
RS: You know what? I’ve got another one. It’s very similar. Now this one, this didn’t have all the thought. This was not done with a label maker and nicely cut. It’s just a post-it note and it’s on a window, presumably above a sink. And it says, “Eric, no dishes in sink. You won’t go to jail, but you will go to hell.”
RS: That sounds even worse. It sounds even worse.
TM: I wonder if this is a roommate situation. I hope it’s not a marriage situation. This reminds me of my college days. [laughter]
RS: Yeah. That is a serious problem.
TM: Oh! Well, the next one looks like it’s a picture of an actual diagram inside an electrical panel, and it’s showing which circuit is what. And the first line it says, what does this say Reuben?
RS: Well, it says, “World pool.”
RS: It’s a pool for all of us.
TM: A pool for all of us.
RS: It’s a pool for all of us. I love that.
TM: They must have meant Whirlpool, right?
RS: I think so. I’m pretty sure. Yeah. This next one. No, I don’t know. I don’t know if I should laugh at this or not. Maybe I’m just different. I get along with my family really well, and apparently this is kind of a popular one, but it’s just a stone at the entryway right in front of the house, kind of set in these rocks. It says, “Friends welcome, family by appointment.”
RS: Tells a lot about the family relationship, I guess. I don’t know. I couldn’t imagine having something like that out in front of my house. But, you know different families, I guess? Okay.
TM: And you can remove the rock from your landscaping when your family comes over. So they don’t know.
RS: Because they had to make an appointment and you know they’re coming.
RS: What if they just show up?
TM: Then you’re in trouble. [laughter]
RS: Yeah. Yeah. I guess.
TM: This next one, is this a recent one? I think I’ve seen this post on Facebook and Instagram recently. This is Melin in front of a doorway.
TM: Yeah. And there’s this piece of cardboard someone wrote on and it says, “Low doorway.” Ouch! And Melin is literally, his head is above the top of the doorway. He is standing right in front of it.
RS: Yes. And Melin is not a tall guy. I mean, he and I are the same height, I think. Maybe he is got an inch on me or something. I mean, he’s like 5’10, 5’11, something like that. But his eyes are about at the top of the doorframe.
RS: Yeah. Love that. Thank you. Melin.
RS: Love the selfie.
RS: All right. This next one, this was hand carved into the top of a chimney crown, and it’s in block letters. So someone carved this when the chimney was poured. It’s written in soft concrete. It says, “Not suitable to burn wood.” Love it. Thank you so much for the tip.
TM: First of all, it’s amazing that they have such a nice crown, because that’s a typical problem we see on most chimneys is that the concrete crown is either not there or it’s crumbled and just dilapidated. But this one has such a beautiful one. It’s funny to me that they carved in it “Not suitable to burn wood.” I wonder if the homeowner knew that whatever contractor did that put the note in there. [laughter]
RS: Tessa, I wonder the same thing. Does the homeowner know that it says this, isn’t it? It couldn’t have been the homeowner because the… Well, it could have if the homeowner was a chimney contractor. But I mean, this is a nice looking crown.
RS: Someone definitely knew what they were doing when they poured that.
TM: Yeah. It looks like they had a professional.
RS: Yeah. I’m thinking the homeowner has no idea that somebody carved this into the top of their crown. And they’re probably a little annoyed that there’s this admonishment about using the fireplace carved into the top. But as a home inspector, I love it. Thank you for the heads up. [laughter] I will put that note in my report.
TM: There you go. The next one is a picture of a light switch and it’s got two switches on it. Both are down and on the right switch someone wrote, stuck on a piece of tape above. It says, “Pizza.”
RS: Pizza. [laughter]
TM: Flipped a switch.
RS: So, presumably you flipped a switch on and pizza arrives. Right?
TM: One would think that’s what makes sense.
RS: Yeah. Well, I can tell…
TM: Did you try it?
RS: I took that picture. I tried it. I waited over 45 minutes and nothing showed up. So I put it in my report. I wrote it up…
RS: Yeah. Pizza switch is broken.
RS: No pizza showed up. No, honestly, this was a switch to the, it turned on the light to the front porch. So…
RS: Yeah. Obviously order pizza a lot.
TM: Oh my gosh.
RS: You order pizza, you better flip this switch on. So that’s the Pizza switch.
TM: You know what this is a picture, I’ve seen this picture for years ’cause I think this picture’s included in a lot of the CE that structure Tech teaches for real estate agents.
TM: And I never knew…
RS: And most of my classes with this photo.
TM: Yeah, I never knew that that was the front entryway switch. That’s hilarious. [laughter]
RS: Yes. Yes. Exactly. Yep.
RS: Now you know the story behind that one.
TM: Yeah, it’s good.
RS: All right. Tessa, I gotta ask you if you understand this one. This is another light switch, and this one, one of ’em says it’s a double switch, one of ’em says outdoor lights. The other one says the Power of Grayskull. Do you know what this means, Tessa?
TM: I have no clue what this means. Please explain.
RS: Okay. There was a cartoon on called He-man. And there was this character who, he’d be a normal person and he would call on the Power of Grayskull to turn him into He-man, and then he’d be this big hulking guy and he’d beat up the bad guys. And whatever would happen, there would be this big flash of light behind him, and it would illuminate the whole screen. Everything would turn white. And so presumably this switch goes to some really bright lights, like what I have in my garage.
RS: About last week, I should probably label my garage light the Power of Grayskull. But just a delightful picture for anybody who’s maybe over 40, they might get this reference.
TM: So did you turn on these lights? Do you know the story of what they illuminated?
RS: You know what? I never got the story behind this one. I did not take this picture myself.
TM: Well you’ll have to ask the team.
RS: I think I remember who took this. Maybe I’ll have to come back with an update on that.
TM: Yeah, yeah.
TM: That’d be good.
RS: All right. This next one. You’ve seen this before, haven’t you? This is a recent one too.
TM: [laughter] Oh, yes. We can’t read this on air. Well, we could, but then we would have to warn our audience. We try not to drop the F-bomb, but that is actually written on this next note.
RS: [laughter] Yeah. I said, you know it’s a seller’s market when he got this, it’s what you see for a showing. It’s on the front door and it’s printed. It says, “please take off your shoes.” But then someone wrote in marker between your and shoes, they wrote F-ing…
RS: With arrows pointing at it like, wow, okay, you have got a chip on your shoulder and I haven’t even come into your house yet. Oh, my goodness.
TM: Oh. There must be a story that goes along with that.
RS: I would, you know my assumption is that it was a rental situation, and they had people coming into the house with dirty shoes, and they got sick of it, but who knows?
RS: How welcoming is that?
TM: Very welcoming. Yeah, makes me wanna buy that house.
TM: Okay. The next picture, it’s looking at a basement, and it’s the ceiling of an unfinished basement so you can see all the framing and everything in the floor joist. And there’s this light fixture base that’s attached to the side of this joist and there’s wiring coming into it, and there’s no light bulb screwed into it. But there is a piece of yellow tape taped to this porcelain base and it says, what does it say?
RS: It says, “un-upper table.”
TM: You know what, it does the job. We got the point.
RS: I think I get the point. I think it means the light doesn’t work, right?
TM: I think so.
RS: Yeah. But…
TM: And you know what? It’s nice of them to label that because as a home inspector, if there’s no light bulb in it, I mean, if you’re running short on time, ideally we would know that there’s no light bulb installed and we weren’t able to test it. But there are probably lots of inspectors that don’t have the time to do that, and they just walk right past it. And then the next homeowner moves in, puts a light bulb and it doesn’t work, and then of course, the home inspector is held accountable for not catching it. So thank you for putting a piece of bright yellow tape with a note on it for us…
RS: Yep. We get the point. Even if it’s not a word, doesn’t matter. We know what you mean. Yep.
TM: We appreciate the effort.
TM: Okay, what’s this next sign say?
RS: This next one. This concludes our list. I’ve got a buddy, Trigg V, who I did this inspection for, and I actually, I was on his podcast and well, it’s a podcast for a company. It’s not in his personally, but his company’s podcast. And we were talking about blogging and social media and all this, and this note came up and that’s what made me think I should do a compilation of all of our favorite notes, was this note I found at a house that Trigg V was buying. And…
RS: It says, “Please don’t run water here. Plumber is on his way! Our teenager clogged the toilet ” [laughter] No. See, I feel like you could have stopped at “Plumber is on his way.” That’s all you had to say. But then they gotta assign blame. They say, “Our teenager clogged the toilet.” All right, now you just pull your thing under the bus.
TM: And it gets worse…
RS: And they could have stopped there. Just throw your teenager under the bus. We’re good. But they didn’t stop there. They continued on…
RS: They said, we’re suspecting it is a condom.
RS: Why do you need to share all of these details? Like I don’t care what you suspect, and you only suspect it, and even if you knew what it was, you don’t need to say what it is. None of this matters. I don’t know how awful for the team living at this house. [laughter]
TM: Oh my gosh. So much information in that note. Terrible.
RS: Yes. But I’ll never forget this one. And this was probably 10 years ago now, but still.
TM: First and the last time we will ever discuss a condom on this show. [laughter]
RS: Probably so, probably so. But it sure was hilarious.
TM: That’s ridiculous. Oh my gosh. I’m sure you could probably do a part two of this, Reuben.
RS: Alright. I’m sure but man, I’d have to go through a lot more photos to come up with that. We’ll just have to start thinking about this. And there surely will be a part two. It just might be another 15 years…
TM: Yeah. [laughter]
RS: That’s all.
TM: Stay tuned.
RS: Stay tuned.
TM: Stay tuned.
RS: Yep. Don’t touch that dial.
TM: Well, thanks. Thanks for sharing those, Reuben. We thoroughly enjoyed them.
RS: Yeah, on time. All right, well, good to see you Tess.
TM: Good to see you too.
RS: Can’t wait for our next episode and I think we may have a guest on the next one. That’s a teaser. No promises yet, though. We’ll see.