Author Topic: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue  (Read 5388 times)

MountainTown

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Okay, my wife and I found one of those charming but old houses. It's in a great location, we could bike everywhere. It's cute and has a lot of nice touches while maintaining it's character. It's also got an upstairs deck overlooking the mountains(love!).

Today I looked at it with the owner. It's FSBO and I asked about mice as I had noticed traps near crawl space. He said it was an issue but he felt as long as he kept on it by putting traps out he was able to control it.

My concern is that there was a cupboard under the range. When I opened it(there was a downvent for range here) there were many droppings in there. It was kind of awkard and I didn't want to call him out so I didn't say anything( probably shoulda).

Anyways, my wife really wants to buy it. It's a decent price. Does anyone have perspective on dealing with this? Is it going to be a nightmare to fix? I asked him if it was possible to seal up the place better and he just said it would be hard because mice can get into such small holes...

Ugh, was kind of disappointed because I feel like there is always something but maybe that's just it? Maybe i'm being too picky.

Anyone have advice? Should I back or out or go forward and maybe request a pest removal service in the deal?


nereo

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2016, 09:37:51 PM »
My first place was an old farm house that had sat mostly vacant for over a year.  Mice were everywhere.

We got two cats from the spca.  Problem solved.  As pests go, mice are pretty easy to deal with.

MountainTown

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2016, 09:57:42 PM »
ha yea...I have heard the cat response a lot. Only problem is I am allergic :(

Bracken_Joy

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2016, 10:01:25 PM »
Put in an offer, contingent on a pest inspection so you get an idea of scope of the problem. Then you're free to back out and you know how bad it is.

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2016, 10:06:20 PM »
It's not unreasonable to get a pest control company in there to advise you. There may be some obvious entry points that you can seal up.

Don't take the homeowner's opinion about how easy it would be to seal up. I mean... has he even tried?

Yes, they can get in through small holes, but chances are, the mice are coming in through a couple of specific holes. Even if there are lots of small holes, it could just be a matter of having a pest control company out several times until you get the right ones.

At one point, our house had a mouse problem. They appeared in a variety of locations in our house and kept coming back no matter how many times we trapped them. It was one hole. The pest control company found it on the first try. If we'd called him when we'd spotted the first mouse, we wouldn't have had a mouse problem.

Our cats were useless. They assumed that since the mice were in the house, they must live with us now.

nereo

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2016, 10:10:46 PM »
CPA cat outsourced mouse control? The shame!

MountainTown

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2016, 10:11:16 PM »
LoL CPA cat that's hilarious. Hmmm good advice.

Would it be best to go under contract under the condition of getting a pest inspection ? Is there a license for this? And should I write into the contract that I want 1 year of pest removal service or should I wait for the inspection to negotiate?

MountainTown

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2016, 10:22:26 PM »
Can inspectors really determine if they are...in the walls...or chewing wires/stuff like that? Seems like if it was just basement kitchen, that may be manageable.

nereo

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2016, 10:23:28 PM »
LoL CPA cat that's hilarious. Hmmm good advice.

Would it be best to go under contract under the condition of getting a pest inspection ? Is there a license for this? And should I write into the contract that I want 1 year of pest removal service or should I wait for the inspection to negotiate?
IME many pest control devices will offer their own guarantee - usually 6 months to a year they will come back if pests return.  Find one that offers this and has good ratings, and put it in the contract that the seller pays for the pest control and the sale is contingent upon the pest inspection.  While yhey are there they can check for any signs of termites, carpenter ants, spiders, etc. If they use poison it's best to do it before you move all your stuff in.

 All in all I think this is a few hundred $ problem, something that is small peanuts in the sale of the house.

adamcollin

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2016, 03:45:03 AM »
I would suggest you to get your home inspected by a professional and seek his advice.

former player

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2016, 04:19:08 AM »
Agree to the above, plus a couple of points.  A mouse problem is usually worst in autumn, when the mice that have grown up over the summer are looking for snug winter quarters.  So if you have seen the house recently you are probably seeing the problem at its worst.  Then, a house that has mice is a house that is attractive to mice, so that even if you get rid of them once future generations may start looking at your des res again.  That's not necessarily a problem, just something to be aware of - if you stop up the entrance points being used, it's just a matter of a periodic look round (at the end of summer?) to ensure that they stay stopped and no new ones have come into existence.  It's a good idea to make sure, if you can, that the mice can't get to anywhere there is electrical wiring for them to chew on.

My house had a mouse problem.  I put down traps and stopped up the entrance point and no more problems for the several years since.  In renovating, the builders found an old mouse nest where a beam had been taken out.  Above the larder.  Yuck.


Heroes821

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2016, 07:55:16 AM »
My mom had a mouse issue and she bought these things that go in the outlets at the dollar store put one in each room of the house and hasn't had a mouse in years.  They emit some high frequency noise that chases the rodents out, her cats don't seem bothered by it.

mskyle

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2016, 08:24:46 AM »
I feel like all old houses have mouse problems from time to time. You stop up the holes, you set traps, you make sure you're not leaving any food out anywhere, anytime, and they mostly go away (one problem that can keep mice coming back is if they have a cache of food hidden somewhere in the house - my dad had mice or possibly squirrels that stole a couple gallons of dry dog food and secreted it in the garage attic).

I had an INCREDIBLY BOLD mouse steal a fancy chocolate bar that I had left on a side table in the living room. He/she dragged it across the room until it couldn't fit the chocolate under a door (the mouse fit under the door just fine). So in the morning I opened the door and I was like, "who left this chocolate bar on the floor?" and then I saw the bite marks and I understood.

Anyway: mice: annoying but not the end of the world. And some people (like, apparently, the current owner of this house) are more live-and-let-live about mice than others. Just because this guy hasn't gotten rid of the mice doesn't mean they can't be gotten rid of.

nereo

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2016, 09:34:48 AM »

I had an INCREDIBLY BOLD mouse steal a fancy chocolate bar that I had left on a side table in the living room. ...

Just because... here's a video of a mouse trying to lift a giant cracker over a ledge.  Enjoy!


BlueHouse

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2016, 10:31:10 AM »

I had an INCREDIBLY BOLD mouse steal a fancy chocolate bar that I had left on a side table in the living room. ...

Just because... here's a video of a mouse trying to lift a giant cracker over a ledge.  Enjoy!
THAT was amazing. 

Sibley

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #15 on: October 26, 2016, 10:35:54 AM »
I almost hope I have a mouse problem when I buy a house next year because my cat would take care of it for me very quickly, get a ton of exercise, and have a blast. Seriously, she would end up sleeping for a week afterwards from sheer exhaustion.

Downside is she doesn't eat them so I have to dispose of the dead ones, but she also doesn't make a mess with them.

misshathaway

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2016, 10:57:09 AM »
Our cats were useless. They assumed that since the mice were in the house, they must live with us now.

LOL. Mine too.

I have finally conquered my mouse issue but it was not easy at all. If you love the house it would be well worth it to get an exterminator estimate on plugging up all the entries and getting rid of whatever mice you have in the house. It could be expensive if there are lots of entry points. I have an old house and the main points were attic vents where they busted through the insect netting over the vents, cellar where they got through openings around pipes and cracks in the cement cellar walls, garage where there were cracks in the seam between the floor and the wall and where the garage floor had settled and the garage door did not sit tight against it.

I had an exterminator come a year ago and they plugged up all of the holes they could find, but clutter in the attic, garage, and cellar prevented them from doing a complete job. They did give me sound advice about where other entries probably were. They also advised me not to continue leaving dry food out for the cat all day in the cellar since it just attracted mice. Now she has a feeder that dispenses enough to eat right then, 5 times a day. Then she follows me around the rest of the day whining for food. Eat the *(#( mice!

Traps are completely useless. You can't exterminate the entire outdoor population. You HAVE to find the holes. Then you have to block them with something the mice can't chew through. Hardware cloth at 1/4" spacing is working for me and pretty easy to cut to size. I'd say that it took a good 2 full days of work to find and plug all of the holes. And I'm sure it will be ongoing once it gets colder here. Plus, then the ones trapped inside the walls eventually died and smelled and caused big flies to appear for a few days.

nereo

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #17 on: October 26, 2016, 10:59:17 AM »
I almost hope I have a mouse problem when I buy a house next year because my cat would take care of it for me very quickly, get a ton of exercise, and have a blast. Seriously, she would end up sleeping for a week afterwards from sheer exhaustion.

Downside is she doesn't eat them so I have to dispose of the dead ones, but she also doesn't make a mess with them.

When we moved from the old draft farm house to a new-construction apartment my cat seemed depressed.  She used to 'patrol' our farm house every night making sure no mice had entered.  I think she feels she doesn't have much of a purpose in the new place.

supomglol

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #18 on: October 26, 2016, 11:08:42 AM »
I think it is pretty unlikely that an inspector is going to really be of help in this situation. 
Mice are one of the easiest pets to get rid of, since you have natural (predators), traps, and poisons at your disposal. 

Here is my go-to solution:
http://store.doyourownpestcontrol.com/protecta-evo-mouse-bait-station
http://store.doyourownpestcontrol.com/contrac-blox-rodent-bait
*Note that they certainly have smaller quantities of the bait than 5 gal buckets, which I have purchased. 

I pop of few bait stations in the garage typically, and not inside the house.  This limits pet/kid exposure and helps lure any mice that might be inside the house to the kill zone. 
It just... works. 

Ensign1999

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #19 on: October 26, 2016, 12:54:09 PM »
A pest control inspection would at least give you an idea of how bad the problem is.  Like many have stated, mice are pretty easy to get rid of.  I wouldn't let a mouse problem (or really any bug/rodent problem) stop me from purchasing a house that was great in all other respects.

-Get an pest control inspection/estimate to get an idea of the problem.
-While a really bad infestation can do damage, a "normal" on shouldn't do to much.
-Keep traps or other control devices going until the problem has gone away and then some that don't require attention (glue traps) in some places to monitor if the problem comes back next fall.
-Trim plantings/brush back from the house to make it less desirable for them to get in.
-Seal up obvious entry points from the outside.
-Keep the house clean so there are no food sources.  If they have nothing to eat they will move on.

Good luck and hopefully if this house doesn't work out you will find one that does.


MountainTown

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #20 on: October 26, 2016, 03:36:02 PM »
Thanks for all the help everyone. I think I am almost ready to pull the trigger on this one. My wife is begging me((groans))

Ok here are the financial details. We could put about $60,000 down and still haver $15k for emergencies and closing costs(our total liquid stash is $75k).

The house is $258,000 and likely we will put in a full offer.

I figure that with PITI, it will be around $1200 a month total. Taxes are high here(2700 for this house).

This is an up and coming college town. Sort of a resort-mountainy place. Lots of California money moving in(lots of cash offers!).

Anyways, ran it through the NY times rent vs buy calculator and it seems to make sense. I wouldn't say it was a slam dunk once I put in a realistic market income on investments. But it still seemed cheaper to buy on the calculator.

I currently pay $825 a month so I am pretty nervous about this transition. Our house situation now seems like such a good deal but we really are outgrowing it and we are ready to move on. Rents outside of this house for something we would want are more like $1600 to $1700 a month.

Any opinions / insights? I am so torn on this whole rent vs buy argument. I also have trouble figuring what our market is. It's seeming like it could be the next Portland but I bet a lot of people say that! I have been intrigued by some of the articles which espouse renting but those examples seem to be more like in Toronto where people pay $600k for a normal house.

Is this house price vs rent more reasonable? I know what I'm paying is super cheap but that's sort of a market anomaly cuz I have a nice landlord who doesn't bother to raise rent.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #21 on: October 26, 2016, 04:09:47 PM »
Thanks for all the help everyone. I think I am almost ready to pull the trigger on this one. My wife is begging me((groans))

Ok here are the financial details. We could put about $60,000 down and still haver $15k for emergencies and closing costs(our total liquid stash is $75k).

The house is $258,000 and likely we will put in a full offer.

I figure that with PITI, it will be around $1200 a month total. Taxes are high here(2700 for this house).

This is an up and coming college town. Sort of a resort-mountainy place. Lots of California money moving in(lots of cash offers!).

Anyways, ran it through the NY times rent vs buy calculator and it seems to make sense. I wouldn't say it was a slam dunk once I put in a realistic market income on investments. But it still seemed cheaper to buy on the calculator.

I currently pay $825 a month so I am pretty nervous about this transition. Our house situation now seems like such a good deal but we really are outgrowing it and we are ready to move on. Rents outside of this house for something we would want are more like $1600 to $1700 a month.

Any opinions / insights? I am so torn on this whole rent vs buy argument. I also have trouble figuring what our market is. It's seeming like it could be the next Portland but I bet a lot of people say that! I have been intrigued by some of the articles which espouse renting but those examples seem to be more like in Toronto where people pay $600k for a normal house.

Is this house price vs rent more reasonable? I know what I'm paying is super cheap but that's sort of a market anomaly cuz I have a nice landlord who doesn't bother to raise rent.

I would super recommend doing a separate full case study. You'll get a lot more replies that way- be sure you put "Case Study: (interesting title)" so you get the maximum number of views. And follow the template over here:  http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/how-to-write-a-'case-study'-topic/

Without a holisitic picture of your financial situation, it's really hard to give specific answers.

MountainTown

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #22 on: October 26, 2016, 10:23:13 PM »
Ok i'll try that.

pbkmaine

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2016, 10:31:24 PM »
Just want to echo what others have said about having a home inspection contingency as well as a pest inspection contingency. Don't buy a house until you understand exactly what is wrong with it.

Metric Mouse

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #24 on: October 27, 2016, 02:04:25 AM »
It's not unreasonable to get a pest control company in there to advise you. There may be some obvious entry points that you can seal up.

Don't take the homeowner's opinion about how easy it would be to seal up. I mean... has he even tried?

Yes, they can get in through small holes, but chances are, the mice are coming in through a couple of specific holes. Even if there are lots of small holes, it could just be a matter of having a pest control company out several times until you get the right ones.

At one point, our house had a mouse problem. They appeared in a variety of locations in our house and kept coming back no matter how many times we trapped them. It was one hole. The pest control company found it on the first try. If we'd called him when we'd spotted the first mouse, we wouldn't have had a mouse problem.

Our cats were useless. They assumed that since the mice were in the house, they must live with us now.

Haha.  That's hilarious.

What is the approximate cost on getting a pest control inspection out there?

Goldielocks

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #25 on: October 27, 2016, 02:31:29 AM »
Mice may be easy to get rid of, but if the problem has been bad in the past, there are a million poops sitting on top of your ceiling drywall.   Poops that continually rain down, some every day, from vent in the ceiling.

Ask the pest inspector to check the ceiling space.

MountainTown

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #26 on: October 27, 2016, 10:24:24 PM »
Sorry but how/where does one check the ceiling space?

Metric Mouse

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #27 on: October 27, 2016, 11:28:43 PM »
Sorry but how/where does one check the ceiling space?

Do you have attic access? There is usually access to the rafter space, often cut into a closet in the upper level.

Goldielocks

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #28 on: October 28, 2016, 12:02:40 AM »
Pull out a ceiling vent, or some other fixture plate / light or ?? and shine a light up there is one way...   Cold air return, pot light, etc....   

I know that anything properly installed to code would not be accessible (only to the box behind it), but older homes are full of openings up there.

If you only items that go to sealed boxes, then it should not be a problem (no rain of poops)..

aasdfadsf

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #29 on: October 30, 2016, 12:51:03 AM »
The way to deal with mice (or any pest, really) is to get rid of every possible source of food and water. This may sound obvious, but you'd be surprised by how many people don't get why they have a mouse problem when they are providing an excellent environment for the mice to thrive. It's the food. If the mice are getting in near a kitchen or pantry, make sure that all food is secured in thick plastic or metal containers that can't be chewed through. Clean up all crumbs off the counters and floors after every meal. Don't leave pet food bowls nearby -- exile them to a place far away from where the mice are getting in. Make sure that cabinets don't have boxes of food that can be chewed through. And clean up the damned mouse droppings; they'll eat those too if they must.

And the water! Human houses are very dry and are not conducive to pests unless you give them water. Don't leave standing water in sink basins or in bowls for pets. Fix any leaking plumbing or anything that gets condensation on it. Keep everything clean and dry. Don't leave drops of water all over the counters.

Plug up the holes. Mice will chew through most things, but anything that makes it harder for them will encourage them to go elsewhere. I've heard that steal wool is something they can't chew through, but I can't vouch for that through personal experience.

Cats are excellent rodent repellents if you're willing to own one (or three). It's not even necessary for them to actively hunt and kill the mice, their mere presence is a deterrent. Mice have a fantastic sense of smell, and the smell of cats (especially their urine) terrifies mice. Put the cat box near where the mice get in, but not the cat food (see above).

Traps and poison are fine as far as it goes, but they just treat the symptom, not the underlying problem. No amount of traps will cure a mouse infestation if they have what they need to maintain a sustainable population. Mice breed at a ridiculous pace, and you cannot stop them by killing them one at a time.

I would not let a mouse problem dissuade me from buying a house that was otherwise a very good deal, because mice are very easy to deal with once you understand why they're there and can take away their reason for being there. I would only worry about any damage they may have done and what it might take to fix it.

« Last Edit: October 30, 2016, 12:59:37 AM by aasdfadsf »

misshathaway

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #30 on: October 30, 2016, 02:35:14 AM »
I've heard that steal wool is something they can't chew through, but I can't vouch for that through personal experience.

I can. At the peak of my problem, my steel wool pad disappeared overnight. Moved the micro to clean and it was in shreds behind the micro with mouse droppings. I guess, because the pad had small pieces of food inside it. That was the first time they had gotten up to the counter. The exterminator found the entry - through the space around a pipe hole inside a bottom cabinet and then up through the burners in the stove.

So far they can't chew through 1/4" hardware cloth, which is a cuttable small-mesh wire grid like chicken wire that you can get at any hardware store.

MountainTown

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #31 on: October 30, 2016, 08:07:32 PM »
Alas....we put in a full price offer, even offered to pay realtor fees and we didn't get it:(

Thanks for all the advice. It was good information for the next one!!! But hopefully there will be no mice

csdreaming

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #32 on: November 03, 2016, 02:28:16 PM »
> Alas....we put in a full price offer, even offered to pay realtor fees and we didn't get it:(

o.O I think you may dodged a bullet.

Metric Mouse

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #33 on: November 05, 2016, 12:00:21 AM »
> Alas....we put in a full price offer, even offered to pay realtor fees and we didn't get it:(

o.O I think you may dodged a bullet.

Right? Somethings work out for the best.

SwordGuy

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Re: My wife and I really like this house but it appears to have a mice issue
« Reply #34 on: November 05, 2016, 09:50:06 AM »
Good advice given above. 

I say that you should use it to drive down the price during negotiations, then do the simple fixes once you buy.  You might save a few thousand dollars.