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Remodel for Success: Five Tips to Help Keep Pests Out During a Renovation

by Nic Ellis, Ph.D., Technical Specialist and Board Certified Entomologist, Western Pest Services

During a remodel, property managers take every line item into account, knowing their residents demand attention to detail, and it’s essential to make sure everything looks flawless before the new space is finally unveiled. Unfortunately, one kind of risk is extremely easy to overlook: pests. With construction crews traveling in and out, piles of materials left out and additional trash from crews accumulating, a property can quickly become attractive to cockroaches, rodents, flies, termites, and other unwanted pests. Plus, the disruption of normal sanitation procedures during these times makes it even easier for pests to crawl in and make themselves right at home. Not considering pest management in your renovation plan could cause a rise in pest activity on your renovation site — and even bigger problems once construction is completed. No matter what stage of the process a renovation is in, property managers can utilize strategies to help prevent pests from derailing a remodel. The most imperative strategies a property manager should implement during a renovation to keep their building pest-free can be simplified into five easy tips:

1. Plan Ahead

When taking on a renovation, planning ahead is critical. Pest management is no different. Consider setting up a meeting with your pest management professional before the upgrades begin. Making sure you’re both on the same page will give you the best collective chance to fortify your building against invaders. In the meantime, examine any current pest activity in the area to help determine what actions you should take to reduce further activity. Also, take into account the added threat of certain building materials by confirming your construction team plans to use non-cellulose building materials where possible, since cellulose is a favorite snack for termites. Further preventive measures, such as pre-treating the building for termites, can also reduce risk.

2. Stay Dry

Exposure to rain and increased humidity not only results in soggy supplies, but also creates a watering hole for moisture-loving pests. If possible, schedule renovations and upgrades during the driest part of the year. This lessens the possibility of pests taking up residence in standing water and damp construction materials. Regardless of season, cover building materials to protect them from rain. Once they get wet, they attract many types of pests. During construction, grade the property so that no puddles form near construction sites. This is especially important for discouraging mosquitoes and termites, which thrive in moist areas and near standing water.

3. Keep Clean

Processes with so many moving pieces and people involved, such as renovations, are bound to get messy. This temporary disarray provides the perfect conditions for pests. With so many people, tools and materials moving about the property, waste is bound to build up. Several parts of your building will experience high traffic during construction, which will only add to the clutter. To reduce the possibility of attracting pests, ensure the site always stays clean. Be sure to pick up any discarded food, trash and wood debris, which can all provide scrumptious snacks for pests.

4. Notice Details

Attention to detail can make or break your remodel in more ways than one, especially when it comes to pest control. Noticing these details and making small changes can make all the difference in fighting off pests. For instance, look carefully at raw building materials to make sure they are free of pests before transporting them onto the jobsite. Replace any exterior mercury vapor or fluorescent lights with sodium vapor or LED lights, since pests are less likely to be attracted to them. Make sure that any new doors and windows are tight against the frames. Screens and weather strips can also help eliminate any potential openings for pests. Additionally, consider working with an HVAC professional to create a “positive airflow” in your building so air pushes flying bugs out of open doors and windows, instead of sucking them into the building.

5. Involve a Professional

Still not sure where to begin? Call a professional. Implementing or updating your approach to pest control with the guidance of a pest management professional will help your renovation go smoothly. Talking to your pest management provider throughout the remodel allows for preventive measures, such as using bait traps around the building’s exterior and in the proximity of any construction materials. Also consider working with your pest management professional to develop an education plan for residents and employees. This can include helpful information such as recommended sanitation practices and proper procedures for reporting any pest sightings. When property managers upgrade their apartment complex, it’s important to remember and execute effective pest management tactics. Utilizing these tips from start to finish ensures your building stays pest-free, as it should be. And remember, contacting a professional early to create a plan could be the difference between “all is fine” and big trouble for your bottom line.

Nic Ellis is a Technical Specialist and Board Certified Entomologist with Western Pest Services, a New Jersey-based pest management company serving businesses and homeowners in major Northeastern markets.