That’s what you should be saying, property owners. Don’t call the basement “storage space” or the friendlier-but-even-more-misleading “nothing much to look at.” Your basements are neither of these things. If I can’t get more than three steps down the basement stairs without gagging on about 40 years of mold and rot and I have to seriously wonder if I really am looking at a petrified nest of centipede corpses in the middle of the gangrenous-looking floor, you’ve got a Mildew Hell Basement.
Is my experience with semi-dry basements so uncommon? I mean, I know that basements are always a little danker and dirtier than the rest of the house and sometimes they get a little leaky if it rains for days on end, but two out of the two basements I’ve seen in potential houses this week were horrifying. The only basements I’ve seen in my whole life that were at all similar in sheer disgustingness were dirt floor cellars where I’m pretty sure a dead body had been buried by the Mob at some point in history. And in those cases, I couldn’t smell the dead body. The basements I’ve seen this week reeked. Not just of mildew, but of stagnant water and shit and spiders and jerk landlords who lie about the places they’re trying to rent like I’m some sort of moron who can’t see or smell.
I know it’s only been two houses. Only two houses seen so far, one other house almost seen but the owner never showed, one other house seen and applied for but probably not chosen because the universe is mean to me, and two houses yet to be seen. All is not lost. And it’s not like I’m asking for a finished basement. I’m from the City, for chrissakes. I know what’s out there. I just want a place where I can walk in flip-flops and that won’t transfer its stench onto anything I put down there. I prefer a place where Graham can watch his giant TV and stay out of my sight when I’m mad at him. What I want and what I prefer are two different things, and I really don’t mind striking a balance between the two.
But I refuse to get a Mildew Hell basement. It’s a whole level of wasted, fetid, likely haunted space and just knowing it’s down there would make me furious for paying to live on top of that sort of thing.