Letter: An interesting problem

Hi, I thought I would relate to you a story that happened to a sibling of mine which I think will serve to bring attention to a potential issue and get an interesting discussion going.

My sibling is purchasing a house in a new development like many people in Lakewood do. She is at that stage where the house is done, the appliances are installed and they are just waiting for closing to move. While visiting the property, still under the ownership of the builder, she discovered a man cooking in her kitchen and placing hot food on the counters. This obviously brings up some serious Kashrus we questions. When we move into a new house we don’t think twice about Kashering our new appliances and/or counter-tops, and rightfully so, as we assume we are the first to use them. Yet there is a possibility that a worker or squatter, might out of convenience heat up his Treif lunch in your kitchen. Now I understand the chances of this happening seem minute, yet today it happened, it may have happened many times in the past and may happen many times in the future.

To be clear this is not meant to blame anyone or anything as it is not about who is responsible. It is merely meant to pose the question to your readers, have you considered this scenario?

If you do decide to post this in any form, I ask that I remain anonymous.

Great site, keep up the good work!

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  1. I take a different tack than you. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound if cure.

    If the cook was employed by the builder, they should be fired. If a squatter, arrested for trespassing.

    The builder is obligated to ensure the home he is selling as a new home is actually new.

    Further, the electric/gas was on in order to cook? Someone had to originate that bill. Let them but the rest of the house or your sibling take a huge discount for used a new home with used kitchen.

  2. unfortunately I see this all the time, especially in the microwaves. The workers warm up their food in there. I have a service company and spend time in new homes. Shame on me for not publicizing this earlier. (please keep in mind, in most houses they haven’t been used)

  3. This is a bigger problem then you think. I always hear of people who rush to move into their new or refurbished house before Pesach. I believe this is the time a kitchen has to kashered the most. If anyone has been to any construction house, there is ALWAYS non kosher food everywhere. Beer is constantly being poured down the sinks. The microwaves in a lot of cases, are used (which may not be koshered). There are some builders who say they would not have the electricity turned on until final inspection if it were at all possible because of these issues.Please keep this in mind!

  4. I take a different tack than you. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

    An employee cooking in that new home should be fired. A squatter should be arrested for trespassing.

    The builder is obligated by law to ensure the home being sold as new is actually new.

    Further, the gas/electric stove has to have an account/bill in someone’s name. Let them pay for that part of the house, and the builder should now offer your sibling a big discount for a new home with used kitchen.

  5. We found good in our microwave and the rav paskend for us that we needed to replace the glass. My friend had a different issue in hers and the builder replaced it. Our electrician had the plug unplugged in the cabinet above which stopped the worker from actually using it.

  6. Why would you not be blaming anyone? The worker is a thief. When I order something new and it is installed… I am the first to use it (accept a car that may have had a test drive or been driven offer to the dealer or my home). If he worked for the contractor… he should be fired. Either way… regardless of kashrus concerns… either the worker or whomever he works for should be responsible to replace this with a new one. This would be even for a non-Jew where kashrus is not a concern. BRand new is brand new. Additionally… the current owner or contractor or whoever is responsible for security on the property. This is concern for theft as well as safety on something under construction.

  7. happened to us. we moved in right before pesach and opened the microwave and saw food splattered all over it!!!! we asked a shaila and were told to clean and kasher it.
    B’h the rest of the appliance still had the paper and packaging inside them so we were able to tell that they were not used.
    i was so upset! i wanted the builder to pay for a new one but they didn’t
    the workers do what they want.
    was finishing my basement and smelled smoke (cigs) went downstairs and told them they can’t smoke in the house. they flat out denied that they were smoking!!

  8. He doesnt have to be a thief. What if he innocently puts a cup of hot coffee brought from outside on a counter?
    Could spill, could be yad soledes, could be treif etc. (Happened to me)

  9. To Introspective,

    The cook fled the seen immediately. It is unclear whether he was employed or contracted by the development or simply a squatter.

  10. This reminds me I have a beer bottle in my duct you can see it from a vent…when I told a friend of mine who is in construction about this he laughed and told me all the guys do things like this.. there are bottles in the walls and who knows what else..you should be careful buying appliances in stores too if the box/items Don’t look sealed it’s a good chance it was a return..

  11. It’s probably more appropriate for this shayla to be given to a Rov, then the scoop oulem to be paskening.
    Majority of houses do not have this issue, and even if they did its only a safek, so usually would be fine.
    A simple solution would be to seal appliances in a way that u would notice they were opened.

  12. Hi all,
    I don’t believe there is a issue of theft here if the fellow was a employee.
    The same way he is allowed to have the heat on while he eats his lunch, and the same way he may use the bathroom. It’s not theft on his part.
    However it may be a obligation on the builders part to ensure they don’t get used.
    I know a builder in town who puts locks on all appliances so that they can’t be used.

    • Not sure what you mean. They put porta-potties on these construction sites as they are NOT allowed to use the bathroom. New construction…. must be new. Even when I have a contractor working in my old house… they ask permission or they do not use the bathroom.

      They actually tend NOT to have the heat or the air conditioning on either. They simply work in the freezing cold the same way they do before the heating is installed! It also happens to tend to be one of the last things installed.

  13. Same thing happened to my sister, she found food in her microwave and had to replace the whole microwave! Luckily the builders paid for the replacement.

  14. And how18 about when a cleaning lady is left in a house unsupervised? I once had a woker in my house and found he had warmed up his treif corned beef sandwich in my microwave

    • Who says you can leave in your house unattended? Even if they did not heat their own food… your food that is not properly sealed could be treif and some of your wine could possibly be a problem. This is not a simple thing. They have no ‘ne’emanas’. Would you eat in a restaurant when they are left for hours with no mashgiach or yid present? You would not be allowed to… your house is no different. You have to ask a shailah how to handle this. Could be if you strike fear into them that they will lose their job no questions asked if they do certain things… and you can come by unannounced and they know there is no time they are certainly safe (e.g. you are NEVER around a certain time) and/or maybe you have cameras in the kitchen and tell them about it… maybe you are okay.

  15. Workers put their hot lunch on the counters. And even if the food is kosher you still have a problem with meat/milk. There generally is no place in a new home to put down food other than the counters and stove tops.

  16. workers in your house will use what ever they need to provide for good working condition. And yes they will use the toilets, after all if they are working in your house for a few hours, what do you expect them to do? (I have a service co. and we always use costumers bathroom) regarding appliances, they should be taped shut and unplugged with a sign, DO NOT USE!

  17. regarding food left not watched, check with your local rabbi, but pretty sure Rema (ashkanazim) paskins its mutar (unless its a shliach)

  18. I do rehabs.
    I saw my tile guys use the kitchen.

    Since then i order appliances (and install the tolilets) only at the end end.

    BTW ppl have had grills in the country etc used….

  19. Thus is not a what-if. It happens all the time. It happened in my house. We found food in the brand new microwave and coffee cups on what was going to be our fleishig counter. Unfortunately fur us the builder did not take responsibility and did not pay us for a new microwave. It was the workers. The day after we moved in one of the workers tried getting into our house to heat up his food!!!
    We spoke to people who do contracted work on new houses, and they told us this happens very often. The builders need to create a zero tolerance policy for their workers. They should not be allowed to bring ANY FOOD into the houses.

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