Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pressure Washing House Siding

By Mark J. Donovan

With gorgeous fall weather in place I went out today and pressure washed my house siding in preparation for painting it in the next couple of weeks. It is amazing all of the dirt and grime, as well as mold and mildew, that collect on house siding. The house already looks 100% better by simply pressure washing it.

Dragging a pressure washer around the house, however, with all of the connecting hoses is a bit of a hassle, and suffice it to say I was pretty much drenched by the end of the project. That said, I can't imagine not using a pressure washer. It would have taken forever using a broom or mop and a bucket of water.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New Home Construction Continues to Limp Along in September

By Mark J. Donovan

The Commerce Department recently reported that U.S. home construction for September increased an overall mere 0.3% over the previous month, though up 4.1% from September 2009. Single family home construction drove the overall increase, with an increase of 4.4% in September 2010. New construction permits, however, dropped 5.6% during the same timeframe. The National Association of Home Builders remains negative on the home construction market due to lack of buyers, depressed or still falling house prices, and tight mortgage lending practices.

None of this news should be surprising with 10% unemployment, impending higher income taxes for all, and lack of clarity on health insurance costs in the coming year. Until unemployment starts to drop, and there is clarity on tax and health insurance costs, buyers are likely to stay where they are; on the sidelines waiting and watching the U.S. economy for signs of improvement.

Even when there is clarity and positive signs in the U.S. economy it still may be years before the housing market fully recovers. The bottom line, there is simply years of excess housing inventory on the market or abandon. Until this excess inventory is either consumed or destroyed, home construction will most likely continue to limp along.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Prevent Bat Home Invasions with Foam Insulation

By Mark J. Donovan

Today I installed foam insulation along my home’s roof line, between the rake trim boards and clapboard siding. There is about a ½ to ¾ inch air gap between the two. I installed the foam insulation to prevent bats from congregating in my roof eaves and working their way into my attic.

Over the years I would occasionally find the random bat in my home’s attic, however this year while looking up at my home’s roof during dusk, I saw about a dozen bats exit from under the rake trim boards into the night air. The following afternoon I took a garden hose and sprayed water up into the area where I saw the bats exit the home. Sure enough, about a dozen bats flew out from underneath the rake boards.

By installing the foam insulation, the same foam insulation that is used to wrap plumbing pipes, I hope to prevent the bats from setting up home in my house. I simply used a metal claw to push the insulation up in between the rake boards and the clapboard siding. It wedged in nice and tightly so I am not concerned about it working its way out.

So if you see signs of bats in your attic, e.g. actual bats or bat guano, or observe them exiting the rake boards on your home, consider installing foam insulation tubes in any potential openings along your home’s roof line. It’s inexpensive and easy to do. Just be careful on the ladders. Also, you may want to install the foam insulation tubes shortly after sunset when the bats have exited your home. This way you want trap or squish any when installing the insulation.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

My Recovering Lawn

By Mark J. Donovan

Between this past summer’s heat, lack of rain and grubs my lawn was virtually destroyed this summer. At first I thought it was just the lack of rain and the heat that was killing my lawn. However after observing the crows pecking at my lawn in the early morning in August, I quickly realized it was more than just the drought and heat conditions that were killing the lawn.

Due to the fact that I have a private well with only moderate capacity, watering the lawn was not an option to address the drought issue. Resolving the grub issue, however, was something that I could address. Initially I applied Spectracide to my lawn and noticed moderate success with killing the grubs. A month later I dethatched the lawn and then applied Grubex and fertilizer. The following week I over-seeded the lawn with grass seed after confirming rain was finally on the way. A week or so later, with a couple of days of rain during that time, I began to see some sprigs of new grass. Unfortunately a week later I realized there were still quite a few bare patches, where the new grass seed did not germinate. Consequently I went out again and over-seeded the lawn once more. At this time I am happy to report that all of the new grass seed has germinated and the lawn is now in full recovery.

Though I still won’t be able to do much during the next hot and dry summer, I will inspect my lawn periodically for signs of grubs and apply a grub killer as necessary.