What lives your house?

 By Frank Davey of Allman Woodcock in Norwich

It’s not just your partner and children who might  live with you, we give house-space to various visitors, but they are not always your relations or paying guests.   However, apart from the grown-up kids who should have moved out, and any unwelcome relatives, there are some less pleasant co-habitees to think about, many of which can cause damage to a property.  If you’ve ever had a cat you’ve probably shared your house with mice, ours has introduced live birds including pigeons too big for the cat-flap, shrews and rats (yes yuck).  A friend once had in a live seagull, some feat, but there were two cats involved.  Not only can mice destroy carpets, the need to wear down their teeth causes them to chew through anything, including electric cables, which is not good news.  You may recall my previous thoughts on furniture beetle, even more damaging is death watch beetle which infests hardwoods, usually where damp and often oak.  Yes, oak is usually found in older properties and historic timber framed houses are often at risk;  that dark brown dust under the beam might not be from your partner with a midnight craving for chocolate.   Wood boring beetle is generally unwelcome, and all sorts of little bugs and beasties are likely to be present in any property.  When they say a carpet literally moves with flea activity  its almost true, the wave of hungry insects in a an empty property which previously housed a dog or (more likely) cat makes the carpet they’ve hidden in almost shimmer as they smell fresh food (you).  Silver fish, weevil, ants and flying insects are often my quiet companions during  a building survey, and squirrels, birds and various rodents can often be found in and under the roof. Bats in the roof are a sign of a healthy environment and its illegal to disturb them, their droppings look like those of a mouse but crumble easily.  Spiders can be a nuisance and their webs in a loft can look like a ghoulish film set, but they can actually help remove unwanted guests.  Wasps like to live in roofs but usually last only one season, that large mottled brown sphere in the loft might not be occupied, but treat it with respect just in case.  Masonry bees chew away at the mortar between bricks and are not a welcome guest, but hey, we all need a place to live.   As our houses get drier and warmer they seem to be more inviting to those who we don’t want to be there, both human and creature.  My gran always said her house was haunted too, but don’t expect me to report that in a survey.  What lives in my house? Me, my wife, five kids, an au-pair, an exchange student, kid’s friends (I hope), pets, and I’d prefer not to think what else.

*You can contact Frank at frank@frankdavey.co.uk

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