How to Combat Pests & Wildlife When Your Home is Laid Bare for Repair

A serious renovation in your home is distressing, but when nature steps in, add psychological trauma to the formula. All of those new openings are like welcome mats to creepy crawlers, and nuisance wildlife, and an encounter with a raccoon, rat, or skunk can make you want to run far, far away and never return. But this is your home, and while it is perfectly natural for pests to poke their noses into any new opening of your house, you don’t want them to stay.

If you are planning a big project that will open your house to unwanted pests & wildlife, plan a strategy for defence:

When all work is finished for the day, block off all openings. Use sheets of plastic or plywood to cover holes in the floor or the wall. Use steel wool to temporarily fill small openings. If blocking off all openings is impossible, seal off the work area from the rest of the house.
Remove the temptation of food and water. Don’t leave water standing overnight, and cover drains with stoppers. Keep all food and food waste stored and covered. Metal tins are superior to plastic; rats can gnaw through PVC pipe.
Keep building materials, like wood, out of your house, and stored well away from the foundation. Get rid of construction waste as soon as possible.
Vacuum frequently to remove crumbs and insect eggs.
Check anything that was placed in storage for pests before you move it back into your home.
For personal comfort and safety, use mosquito netting at night, and don’t go barefoot.

Assume you will have to deal with an infestation, but don’t call the fumigator yet. Until your home is finished and sealed once more, assemble your offensive arsenal:

Set traps: spring traps for mice and rats (they love peanut butter), roach and ant “motels,” jars of watered-down molasses, and fly paper or tape.
Sprinkle boric acid and food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) around any problem areas to kill a wide variety of insects. Wear a mask and follow directions carefully. Boric acid and DE are non-toxic, but only DE is safe if ingested accidentally by people or animals.

Hang a flyswatter in every room.
Invite a cat to share your home. Cats are natural mousers and their presence will deter small animals from entering. Some terrier dog breeds are also reliable for pest control.
Call animal control when a dangerous animal enters but can’t find its way out (skunks, squirrels, raccoons, etc.).

Although the nature of remodeling can attract pests, at completion you can deal quickly with any remaining trespassers. If you discover an established infestation, it’s a good time to call in the experts for a consult and a quote while your house is already laid bare. A systematic approach to pest control in your home will soon have your house back to normal.