Comment of the Day: The Very Special Secret Behind That “New Home” Smell

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE VERY SPECIAL SECRET BEHIND THAT “NEW HOME” SMELL “After having worked for two major local homebuilders, I was shocked to discover that most subcontractors leave an organic surprise for every new homeowner in the form of a bowel movement, hidden somewhere in the home…closets, attic, pantry, fireplace, you name it. And I’m talking about ALL homebuilders. I was told by upper management that it’s a ’statement’ from the have-nots to the haves. Charming.” [marketingwiz, commenting on Comment of the Day: Someone Was Sleeping in My Room!]

31 Comment

  • So that’s the labor movement?

  • I think it’s more like laziness rather than making a statement. Or culture.

    If it’s a McMansion, there is mostly likely more than one surprise in there, somewhere.

    The turds aren’t so bad, they dry up over time. It’s the plastic soda bottle full of pee tossed in the corner of the attic you need to worry about…

  • I’m thinking it’s more of a statement from the subs to their big builder bosses, payback for getting treated like “crap.”

  • I have trouble relieving…err… believing this.

  • There are also people still hanging dead in the trees of Galveston from Hurricane Ike.

  • @Marmer: No one was more shocked than me to discover this nasty little homebuilding secret, and not only did I confirm it with colleagues who worked for other builders, I actually saw the evidence more than once. Personally, I preferred the burrito wrappers and soda cans. The practice doesn’t hinge on how much the house costs and it’s been going on for years. Attempts to alleviate the problem were actually discussed at sales meetings in the form of bonuses to subs who delivered crap-free. And homebuilder employees who purchased, regardless of their position, were not exempt. My VP/GM boss was treated to his special gift-with-purchase on his final walk-through. Sometimes, truth stinks.

  • I’ve heard of it happening but I’m sure it doesn’t happen in every house. I’ve never found evidence in one of mine. I have found plenty of sodal bottles full of suspicious yellow liquid though and I take $5 from everyone on the crew when I find one. I went through one new house on Nantucket where they did it ALL over the attic, and those guys had buns of steel because they used fiberglass insulation to wipe. OUCH!

  • DNA! Disgusting.

  • Man, forget the bonuses for no poop. I would have charged them back, over and over and over again, then held draws and held future work hostage. You wanna work, I’m not taking any “crap”. Of course I would make sure there’s a port-o-potty for them to mess up instead. Now talk about disgusting. :-)

  • Yes indeed, workers do leave gifts behind – mostly trash inside walls – but I don’t think the crap-in-the-attic is any kind of Movement (wink*Eric)
    In the early 80’s, of 11 new Village Builders homes on my (new) street, 3 homeowners found poop in the attic and 3 homes didn’t have plumbing stacks connected, resulting in sewage smell that was hard to locate. One of those was MINE and I had to rip open two bathrooms’ ceilings to find it & to prove to Village that it was their issue to fix.

  • This is an urban legend most workers are just happy to be earning $. It does happen but not every or even many houses the laborers building McMansions are not very political, Politics are a luxury the lower paid segments of society do not have time for.

  • Most likely it’s undocumented poop…

  • I think it’s really “too lazy to go out to the porta potty” poop.

  • Please…..the porta cans have paper.

    Do these attics?

  • My dad has been a homebuider in the Golden Triangle area for almost the past 40 years, and as such I’ve spent a lot time on job sites in my life. I’ve never seen poo left as a “gift,” but, in the days before dad starting renting port-a-johns for his jobs, it was not uncommon to find a paint can full of it hidden in a closet somewhere. These cans eventually found their way to the job’s burn pile, in most cases.

  • From Benjy Compson:
    …but, in the days before dad starting renting port-a-johns for his jobs, it was not uncommon to find a paint can full of it hidden in a closet somewhere…

    My apology to the undocumented poopers. My sympathy to the undocumented and documented poopers. So where did your dad expect them to poop?

    The more I read about builders, the more I really don’t like them.

  • So where did your dad expect them to poop?

    In empty paint cans or buckets. Or the convenience store down the street. Or the woods. Once the plumbing was functional this practice would stop.

    Maybe we’re getting to heart of the reason some people only want to live in new houses. They’re not worried about living in a house that someone has died in, or even lived in. They just don’t want to live in a house that somebody has pooped in.

  • There are good builders and there are bad builders. I have been fortunate in knowing a group of good ones. Unfortunately, like most things, you only read and hear about the bad.

    Or you hear bad things about good builders and subs from people who have unreasonable expectations – they expect the fits and finishes of an $800,000 house for $400,000. They complain and complain, until they sell at a huge profit. Then they seem to shut up. I’ve seen that one several times.

  • I don’t know when porta cans were first developed, but in 1962 right here in Houston we had a neighbor who worked for the Big John Portacan Co.

    I did not understand the name at the time but now, it seems apt.

  • I’m just saying that porta cans have been around a long time.

    There’s no excuse in this day and time for construction workers to not have access to one.

  • One more reason to buy an old house.


  • Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear. This ‘practice’ was never based on the lack of porta-potties. On the contrary, both of the well-known homeuilders for which I worked were diligent in providing all necessary jobsite sanitation amenities (ever heard of OSHA?) including portable toilets. The subs intentionally elected not to use them.

  • I think the subs really hated the company you worked for marketingwiz. My husband and I talked about this topic last night and he has never seen subs do this and he has worked for numerous builders.

    Now gross-you-out things in the porta-potty always happens.

  • @Heights: Without knowing for whom he worked, your husband is the exception. This is a very common practice/problem among production homebuilders. I was so appalled when I found out that I confirmed it with colleagues who worked for other major builders. That doesn’t include the people I personally know who have received the same gift from a variety of other builders. Your husband is lucky not to have experienced it. Like I said, sometimes truth stinks.

  • Well, I know if my husband caught any of his guys doing this, he’d kick their rears to the curb faster than you can say “poo” and the poo in question would be returned to where it came from. :-)

  • Your post made me laugh for quite a while. I have never heart of subcontractors leaving an organic surprise for the owners. I think that in solid construction companies the head constructor has to check everything before forwarding the building to the owners or the RE company.

  • I came across this as I was looking up information to see if this was a common occurrence. A friend of mine has a home being built and the workers took two huge dumps in her toilets which have no running water yet. There are porta potties at the site. There was also no toilet paper. In relaying her story to another person who works for an unnamed builder, she said oh yeah, this is a common occurrence. Just be glad they did not poop in the walls. She had also had it happen to her (in the toilet) but another company had many homes nearby that had poop in the walls. So no, this is NOT an uncommon occurrence. Wow!

  • Yep, crap in the attic “hidden” underneath a Red Sox cap! Nothing ‘undocumented’ about that. Of course the house was built in the early 1990s, and quality across the board has improved since then (although that era of craftsmanship seems to be coming to an abrupt end, thanks Trump). At the very least, I’m hoping they now know how to build the door frames correctly!

  • @Heights, @marketingwhiz… It makes some sense that this movement would occur with greater frequency with production builders, and only with some smaller builders and not with others. Perhaps part of the “lower paid segments” not having the time for politics is also reflected in the ingrates also not being allowed the time to sit when needed.