Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Bugs

A few weeks ago, Annie noticed that a bird had built a nest in a vent on the side of our house. I'm not sure why someone put a vent on the side of the house, but it was now home to some baby birds. They sounded so cute and they made a perfect alarm clock every morning. That was all great until Annie walked into the little office room upstairs and found it crawling with hundreds of thousands of tiny little black bugs. 

It's hard to tell the size from this picture, but the thing they are crawling on is a small zipper on a plastic bag. 

We had to take all of our stuff from that room outside and every time we touched anything, they would start to swarm up our hands and arms. Annie got online and determined that they were Bird Mites, also known as Bird Lice. 

They were still coming in through the vent, so I went and removed the exterior vent cover and bird's nest while Annie cleaned the room out with water and vinegar. 

Fortunately, these things aren't hard to kill and they die or go away if they don't find a new host within a few days. We quarantined all of the items from that room outside for about a week just to be safe. 

The next surprise came when I started deconstructing the downstairs bathroom. 

It looked like there had been a slow leak behind the shower for quite a few years. The floor was rotted out and a number of studs were completed rotted at the base and not even supporting the wall anymore. As I got to removing the damaged lumber, I noticed a fine dust coming out of some of the pieces. It was a lot like sawdust. I didn't think much of it at first, but as I took things apart more, it became more apparent that something was eating the wood. 

I called a pest control company out to look at it and it turned out to be Powder Post Beetles. They seem to have only eaten around the damp wood, which is common for them, but they have been known to eat entire houses. I'm glad we caught it when we did, but it's been a lot of work fixing the framing they destroyed. 

Chance looks through the giant hole we just cut in the house, trying to figure out the next step. 

Once the affected wood was all cut out, we started piecing the house back together. 

We had to cut the rotten / eaten subfloor back a few feet and replace some joist sections.

Finally, we were able to get back to doing what we had set out to do a few days earlier. We opened up the the wall between the kitchen and bathroom and put a support beam across it. The new wall will go back about three feet into the bathroom and the extra kitchen space will house the refrigerator and give us some extra storage. 

First post in!

Deconstruction doesn't mean you don't still get to use a sledgehammer from time to time.

Finally! Now just two more beams left to do...

So the pests are all dealt with and remodeling is back on track. I'm just now finalizing the plans in Sketchup and I'll post them soon. 


  1. This is great! I am now following you. My husband is an architect and we bought out first home last year. It can be such a challenge sometimes. Luckily most of our changes were cosmetic but we did have roof issues. My husband is LEED certified so a lot of what we want to do with the house is green. I am excited to see the changes you make!

  2. Good work and now you know first hand what I call the "7 times factor". If you think a job will take an hour multiply that by 7 and you have a more realistic extimate!! Too many unknowns come to play.