Sunday 04 Dec 2016

Home Improvement
Matt Seinberg

As any homeowner knows, there is always something to do around the house. My house is no exception to that rule. If you read my last column, “Mouse Tales,” this is sort of a continuation of that story, only more so.

Marcy, my wife, called exterminators that Saturday night. Only one returned her call soon after. A couple called on Sunday and one or two on Monday.

The amount of money they wanted was crazy. The lowest price was $275; the highest was $450, only for the initial visit. Those prices were for setting traps and plugging any holes they could find.

On Monday night, I had to stop by my in-laws house to pick up some sticky mousetraps. The carpenter I use for work around the house lives right around the corner from my in-laws. I saw him in his garage and stopped to ask him about repairing our dining room ceiling, which got water damage from a roof leak during Hurricane Irene.

I mentioned our mouse problem to Randy, the carpenter. He says I should put peanut butter on the sticky traps. An exterminator friend of his told him to do that when he had a mouse problem in his basement.

What did I have to lose by trying? After dinner, I put out the traps, with some peanut butter on them. Within 20 minutes, I had my first mouse. It was tiny with beady black eyes, trying to get off the trap. No such luck you little pest. I put it in a plastic bag and took it outside.

Within two days, I caught seven mice. I couldn’t take the whining and crying of the three females in the house any more. They complained endlessly about the mice.

I still have traps set in two cabinets and the peanut butter is still on them. I’m hoping I’ve gotten lucky and got all the mice. Do you think they’re smart enough and decided to find someone else to bother?

On my day off Tuesday, I did some work outside that included cleaning out four window wells as well as caulking around a window and siding where the mice may have gotten in. I say, maybe, because they can squeeze through any tiny hole. I still have to put down some sand and rocks in the window wells to prevent damage to the foundation during the winter.

I arranged for Randy to come over on Friday morning to repair the dining room ceiling. When he got here, we also talked about some other work that needed doing, such as installing a vent from the bathroom fan to the outside and some concrete work around two basement windows.

Now, please understand, I am a handy person, but I know my limits. I don’t own any hydraulic concrete or know how to use it. That’s what Randy says he has to use around the inside basement window. I’m just sorry I didn’t have Roger the chimney guy do that repair when he had the hydraulic concrete out when he installed the new chimney liner.

I do interior painting, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it. The prep-work takes more time than the painting itself. My hallway has seven doors in it, and that means a lot of taping and cutting in, which is very time consuming. I’m good at it, and given at least a week, I’ll get that done, and maybe other touch ups as well. I’m sure Marcy will find plenty of that to do.

Two years ago, we had our stoop and front walk repaired. Well, the stoop has held up, but the concrete is not in good shape. It’s cracking, chipping and falling apart. I had one estimate and it was $1100. I’ll get a price from Randy and have him to the repair in the spring. What’s the sense in doing it before the winter, when it the cold weather could damage it.

Did I mention discolouring, of the roof, because one side faces north and never gets any sun? My roof is streaking, as are most roofs in the neighbourhood that don’t have an architectural style shingle. The replacement cost is anywhere from $5000-to-$7000, which I just don’t have at this time.

When we moved into this house, the bathroom and kitchen were up-dated. That was eleven years ago. Is it time for a new bathroom, which might cost $10,000 or more. A new kitchen might cost twice that amount.

Let’s do some quick math. The above home improvements will cost at least $35,000. Now let’s add in $5000 for Michelle’s “Sweet 16 party,” $5000 for Melissa’s braces and see how much we can spend on a vacation?

I guess we have no money for a vacation. Next summer, I’ll vacation at the home décor store, picking colours, with a side trip to Home Depot for brushes and such.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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