Flipping a cat infested property

14 Replies

Hey everyone,

I walked through a pretty run-down house the other day that was completely infested with cats. It looked like something out of the TV show "Hoarders." The (formerly) nice wooden floors were soaked with cat urine and the place smelled exactly as you would expect it to. 

I have two questions.

1) Is it ever possible to get the wooden floors cleaned up and serviceable? Or would I need to cut my losses and just replace them all?

2) When it comes to flipping a house that smells absolutely terrible, can a deep deep clean solve the problem? Or does it need to be gutted and have all of the walls replaced?

Thanks for any insight you can provide. Thanks!

Originally posted by @Tyler Flagg :

Hey everyone,

I walked through a pretty run-down house the other day that was completely infested with cats. It looked like something out of the TV show "Hoarders." The (formerly) nice wooden floors were soaked with cat urine and the place smelled exactly as you would expect it to. 

I have two questions.

1) Is it ever possible to get the wooden floors cleaned up and serviceable? Or would I need to cut my losses and just replace them all?

2) When it comes to flipping a house that smells absolutely terrible, can a deep deep clean solve the problem? Or does it need to be gutted and have all of the walls replaced?

Thanks for any insight you can provide. Thanks!

 Hey Tyler...here are some answers:

1) Yes it's possible, but not likely if they are soaked with urine.  You may be able to salvage them with a very dark stain, but you'd have to go through sanding and finishing before you can even test that out.  If really dark floors will work with your color scheme then it's worth a shot.

2) You'd be amazed what opening it up for a week or two and painting EVERYTHING will do.  You need to get everything out of there and try to eliminate the smell, but you'd only need to gut in very extreme situations.

Good luck!

Hello there Tyler, sounds like you have yourself a challenge on your hands!

As far as the floors go I think if you cut your losses and replace the floors, the question asked in #2 will fix itself. Once you 'de-hoard' the place and pull the floors, things will start to smell better. You will probably have to replace some of the wall areas but not all of them. Of course the entire house will have to be primed and repainted. Once you have done that things will smell better unless there are fixtures that have been damaged too (cabinets), so be on the lookout. Also, if there are cats still around then you will need to partner up with the local SPCA to have them removed humanely. That's also great community relations.

With that type of condition you should get the house for a steal I hope! Please keep us BPrs updated as to how it goes, and good luck!

@Tyler Flagg I have to agree with everyone on the floors your best bet will be to replace them, also a good coat of kiltz on the walls will help eliminate some of the smell.

@Michael Seeker  

I see y'all have experience with cat infestations as well! haha. Thanks for all of the advice gents. Hopefully I can get it for a price that will work with the amount of remodeling that will need to be done. Will keep BP updated if it all works out. Thanks again.

Ozone generator, rent if by the week.

Hey @Tyler Flagg  - there are a few forum articles on here about rehabbing houses with really bad cigarette damage. There might be some useful tips in those? Though not sure how they would translate to the floors.

Keep us updated! Before/after pics are always interesting if you go ahead with it.

Definitely prime all the ceilings &walls.. As far as the floors go.. The amount of time and $$ you'd probably spend in salvaging them to "hopefully" fix the problem, would probably be close to a wash.. I would take the sure fix if your margin allows it.. That's my 2c.

Cat urine is far worse than dog urine to get out of a house/apartment.  When the local "cat lady's" house came on the market after she passed, we looked at it, decided it would be a full gut job and walked away (estate wanted too high a price).

The fellow who bought, tried to clean (enzimes), ozone and prime (Zinsser) but the smell came back - again and again and again.  He lost the house and the next guy who bought it from the bank gutted it back to the studs and separated it into a duplex or triplex.

If the hardwood floors are that stained and saturated, you will be removing not only the finish floor, but likely the subfloor and maybe any drywall on the ceiling below.

Originally posted by @Roy N. :

If the hardwood floors are that stained and saturated, you will be removing not only the finish floor, but likely the subfloor and maybe any drywall on the ceiling below.

That's the issue and the secret to hardwood floors, the cat urine isn't just soaked into the wood, it's under the wood if the house is new enough to have a sub-floor under the hard wood. You can do all you want to the hardwood such as sanding and such but the secret is killing the old puddles of cat urine that soaked between the boards into the sub-floor below. The last one we dealt with like this involved pouring bleach over the hardwood floors, which let it soak into the sub-floor under neath, then running ozone machines every night for weeks. Took awhile but all cat smell removed. Bleach the hard wood, bleach the bottoms of the drywall and especially the corners of the rooms, remove the baseboard and replace and you're probably good to go. Toss any carpet, bleach the sub-floor, paint with oil based kills all plywood, toss baseboards and replace with new.

Keep following our nose every morning when you come back, we found the cats had peed inside of cabinetry, on the vanities in the bathrooms, in closets.. exactly why we will not allow cats in any rental ever.

Do nothing and flip it to a new cat lady.

Kilz it! I had a pitbull house that was saturated in urine and faeces. However I did not have the wood floors but a concrete slab. I tell you though, I got the tip from a commercial cleaner guy, and he tried everything and Kilz works the best. I would coat the walls, floors and then maybe carpet or tile on top. See if that is cheaper than replacing the floor.

Awesome advice everyone. Thanks for the input. Sadly, it looks like this is a common problem...Why can't cats just go outside?

If it has central HVAC, you may need to have the ducts cleaned as well.

Just went through this exact scenario with a property.  We gutted the place, which we knew we were going to have to do prior to the purchase.

Something to keep in mind, once you start opening walls and removing floors, in certain cities an inspector might "coincidentally" drop by.  In a lot of areas, anytime you open up the walls, the city is going to make you bring all electrical up to code and have the plumbing inspected.  Just something else to take into consideration.

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