Hello and welcome to another episode of Let’s Get Snagging if you are in the process of buying or have bought a new build property then this podcast is for you.

My Name is Ian and I run Lively Professional Services Ltd, a new build snagging company.

 In this week’s episode let’s have a look at some of the more unpleasant visitors you could possibly get in your new home.

Now that you have moved into your new home and have settled in it is important to understand that there is the possibility of getting some unwelcomed visitors.

What do I mean by unwelcomed visitors or the possibility of a pest infestation? 

Pest infestation is when a species that is considered a ‘pest’ infiltrates a location or area, whether individually or in a group. This can place those in the affected environment, and the environment itself, at increased risk of health-related problems or damage.

That sounds disturbing so, what are the reasons which can lead to having a pest infestation?

Pest infestation happens when there is access to a home. There can be a number of possible entry points which will allow pests to sneak in, with the possible attraction of available resources for them such as food, water, moisture, and even humidity. These resources are essential for pests to reproduce and the continuity of their species.

Newly built homes can have gaps and cracks that can serve as entry points for pests to enter. It doesn’t matter whether you live in an urban or rural area, pests can easily access your new home, which means your home is susceptible to infestation. 

Understanding how and when pests invade your home can help you prevent these possible pest problems. 

But what type of pests are we talking about?

Here are some of the more common pests such as: 

  • Rodents which are really unpleasant and may need specialist pest control to eradicate them.
  • Birds, these can be an especially annoying problem if they enter your roof area.
  • Bats which are fully protected by law.
  • Wasps and Bees, again these will need a specialist pest control to get rid of them.
  • Ants.
  • Beetles.
  • Flies, which are probably the easiest pests to remove.

However, one of the more unpleasant visitors to your new home can be rodents, Modern buildings and construction methods are ideal for them.

Rodents such as mice usually enter newly built homes through cracks and holes found in walls and floors. Most homeowners don’t usually recognise mouse holes until they see other signs appear letting you know you have unwelcome visitors. 

One of the things people don’t realise is mice can fit through some very small holes. This is due to their body shape and they can fit through holes as small as a quarter of an inch.

Rodents are a public health pest and can cause serious harm and damage to property and have been known to spread diseases such as Salmonella, Weils disease and Listeria through their urine, droppings, and bedding.

There are two main things that can attract mice and rats to your house these are food and shelter. If you don’t tidy up properly and there’s food waste on the floor or surfaces, rodents are going to love it! Rats and mice also need shelter, particularly during winter to avoid the worst of the cold.

Rodents tend to move around more during summer as opposed to other seasons. This is a necessity for their survival – to relocate from their winter and spring nests into places where they will be more comfortable during the summer heat.

Rodents like to be left alone so they will look for quieter places to live.

But how do you know if you have a mouse infestation?

Mice are tiny creatures, however, the clues they leave behind tend to be quite noticeable. The signs to look for if you have a rodent infestation are:

  • Chew-or scratch marks on shelves and food packaging. You may also notice tell-tale scratches on Skirting boards or around the flooring.
  • Food crumbs or debris on shelves, in the pantry, or in unusual places – like the middle of the floor.
  • Mouse droppings, which look like small, oblong pellets. These are common in well-used mouse corridors, under sinks, in the backs of cabinets, or in the corners of rooms. 
  • Nests made of fabrics, shredded paper, pet hair, string, or other soft, shredded material.
  • Noises like scratching or squeaking in the walls at night.
  • You might also notice your pet’s behaviour such as barking and scratching or pawing under your appliances. 

There are a few things you can do to get rid of mice in a new house:

1.    Remove all food sources. Mice only need small amounts of food each day.

2.    Get rid of any nesting materials. 

3.    Seal any entry points. 

4.    Use natural mouse repellent. 

5.    Get a cat. 

6.    Try live traps. 

7.    Use sound. 

8.    Use essential oils.

The next pest on my list are birds.

Birds can be a real nuisance, especially during the nesting season. Any small hole in your roof can allow access into the soffits or roof area.

If you notice a lot of bird activity around your house, have a look to see if there are any holes or birds that are entering the roof area. These can be blocked before the nesting season but be aware if the birds have started to build their nests, then they are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the nest cannot be disturbed or removed as they are legally protected. If you are found guilty of disturbing or destroying a nest this can have a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment and an unlimited fine which can be imposed in respect of each bird, nest or egg affected.

There are a few things you can do to help prevent birds nesting. Such as blocking any visible holes or entry points, installing ant perching devices such as spikes specially designed for the purpose of preventing birds perching or roosting. Bird netting or meshes can also be used, especially if you have chimney pots. If you use any of these methods, it is important that they are installed correctly and regularly inspected.

The next pest on the list are bats.

Unlike mouse and rat infestations, bats are harmless and pose no damage to your property. They can be found in both old and new properties, they eat only insects, and they don’t gnaw through cables, wood, wires, or insulation. They won’t infest your property as they have only one baby per year, and they don’t build nests. Bats are clean animals and pose no health risk to humans. 

Bats can find somewhere to roost either in the roof space, behind facia boards, soffits, ridge tiles and even between gaps in the mortar which give access to the cavity. 

Of the 17 British species only the two horseshoe bats, both rare, sleep hanging free by their feet. The remainder rarely do this but cling on with thumbs and feet or squeeze themselves into crevices.

Roosts are not used all year round, but bats will return to them each year.

It is important to note bats are fully protected by both UK and European legislation which gives them full protection, many bats are endangered or threatened if you do have bats in your home, you must not block their access. Because you can get an unlimited fine and receive up to six months imprison if you:

  • Deliberately capture, injure or kill bats
  • Damage or destroy a breeding or resting place
  • Obstruct access to their resting or sheltering places
  • Possess, sell, control or transport live or dead bats, or parts of them
  • Intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat while it’s in a structure or place of shelter or protection.

Some of the activities that can harm bats are:

  • Renovating, converting or demolishing a building
  • Cutting down or removing branches from a mature tree
  • Repairing or replacing a roof
  • Repointing brickwork
  • Insulating or converting a loft
  • Installing lighting in a roost, or outside if it lights up the entrance to the roost
  • Removing ‘commuting habitats’ like hedgerows, watercourses or woodland
  • Changing or removing bats’ foraging areas
  • Using insecticides or treating timber

In many cases, you should be able to avoid harming the bats or damaging or blocking access to their habitats. You’ll need an expert to do a bat survey. The survey will show what type, how many and how the bats are using the building or area so you can plan to avoid harming them.

If you need to carry out any repair work to your home which might affect any bats, it is advisable to seek advice from Natural England before any maintenance work is carried out or you can seek advice from a Licenced Ecologist. 

The next pests on my list are wasps and bees.

Whilst it is possible to remove some pest infestation yourself, I would highly advise that you call a professional pest controller to get rid of any wasp and bee nests, as it requires specialist expertise and knowledge to get rid of them.

Wasps usually occupy cracks and holes around your home, sheds and even holes in the garden areas. You should never ignore a nest as wasps’ nests will continue to grow. The majority of nests will die off in the winter, but at the end of the season the queen will survive and produce between 8 and 20 new queens who will then go and build new nests nearby. Which means the following year your infestation is going to be a lot worse.

Wasp nests usually start off small like the size of a golf ball but can grow to over the size of a beach ball. 

Wasps can cause damage to property by chewing through wood and plaster board to expandtheir nests. Structural damage caused by wasps can have serious consequences.

But what if you have a bee infestation, and what type of bees are they? There are 3 types of bees these are Honeybees, Carpenter Bees and Mason Bees.

Bees can cause damage to your home in a number of ways. If you suspect that you have a bee nest it is important to have them professionally removed as quickly as possible to limit the damage they cause.

Honeybees enter through small openings in soffits, eaves and even the holes left in the external electric box on the side of your home.

Bees construct honeycombs and can fill up the entire cavity of your home and can have hundreds or thousands of bees living in the colony where there is a significant risk of potential structural damage due to the weight of the growing colony.

Carpenter Bees. These are well known for creating tunnels in unsealed or painted woodwork where they lay their eggs. Carpenter bees do not eat the wood, but they can cause some serious damage as they burrow into it.

Mason Bees, unlike honeybees tend to be solitary, there is no risk from mason bees building a colony, but they do tunnel into the mortar of your new home to make their shelter and will be more than happy setting up home in your brickwork. Since they are loners there is less likelihood of them causing any damage, but their numbers can grow and eventually become a threat to the structure of your new home.

Because bee colonies can grow to thousands of bees, the sheer weight of a large colony is all it takes to cause some serious damage to the walls and roof in your home. Since bees are attracted to brick walls and roofs it is important to look out for any signs you might have a problem.

A colony of bees can grow up to having thousands of bees living in it, and one beehive can hold up to 80 pounds of honeycomb. 

You will want to remove the bees and then the hive to ensure that neither is harmed. Bees are important to the ecosystem, therefore the best thing to do is to contact a professional who can do this on your behalf with the right tools and experience.

Next on the list are ants, beetles and flies, these are probably the easiest to eradicate, however, one of the more common pests we see are plaster beetles which can be unsightly when you see them in large numbers.

If you think you have plaster beetles, don’t panic – they have been around for hundreds of years and they get their name from being mostly found living in the plasterwork of both domestic and industrial buildings.

The plaster beetles thrive in damp conditions which makes them more prevalent during autumn and winter or damp conditions in a newly built property. For more information on this, check out season two episode 8 of the podcast.

They feed off mould which is caused by the plasterwork or decoration not being dried out or where damp plaster occurs possibly through a leak. Plaster beetles occur naturally outside buildings and may be attracted to homes by exterior lights.

Any structure where moisture persists due to excessive moisture a water leak, condensation or inadequate ventilation which encourages mould growth can be the source for plaster beetle infestation.

Although plaster beetles are not harmful, they are not a nice addition to your home, as many homeowners can confirm.

How to find out if you have plaster beetles

If you want to find out whether you have plaster beetles, the first thing you need to know is that they can range in size from 0.08mm to 3mm long, hard-shelled, and can vary in colour from brown, reddish-brown or black. They are good fliers and can be attracted to windowsills, light fittings, or sinks.

Also, they have a life cycle of around 13 to 28 days from hatching, they breed in high numbers, so once they get to your house, it is not long before you have an infestation.

How to prevent plaster beetles

One of the ways to prevent an infestation of plaster beetles is to keep your house dry and free from moisture, such as having the heating on, sufficient ventilation and locating any areas of excess moisture, fixing leaks or areas of poor ventilation such as under stairs cupboards will help. Having dehumidifiers at home can also help.

How to get rid of plaster beetles

Identifying the moisture source is key to eradicating the beetle infestation and controlling mould growth which is a food source for the beetles.

Once these are corrected, I would always advise getting an expert to confirm the identity of these beetles, they will also advise on how best to eradicate them and prevent future infestation.

If you feel you have a possible leak or wet walls you should report this to your builder, who will need to investigate and rectify any issues that will hopefully help eradicate the plaster mites, they may even employ the services of a pest controller.

I hope you have found this interesting and would like to thank you for listening to today’s podcast, please don’t forget to Subscribe if you haven’t already, and if you can please share the podcast with friends or if you are a member of a Facebook group on your development please let the group know about the podcast as others new build homebuyers might find it useful.

 If there is anything you would like me to cover or have a question, then please drop me an email to Socials@livelyprofessionalservices.co.uk 

 And if you want to know more about what we do or would like more information, you can visit our website at www.livelyprofessionalservices.co.uk

 Until Next Time see you soon.

Get Your Free Ultimate Snagging Checklist

Use this easy-to-follow checklist to check your new build home for common defects