Investing money and time in a DIY pest control solution could save you hundreds of dollars a year for each property. But is it worth the time investment?
DIY Pest Control is Becoming More Popular
Since the 1950s, doing things yourself around the house has become more popular among landlords and property managers. To many landlords, DIY is a cheaper way of managing their real estate property. When BiggerPockets asked its members who provide pest control services, most of them confirmed that it is their responsibility, not the tenants’. They prefer doing it themselves through this ‘cheaper’ means.
Nowadays, with so many self-help resources and DIY Pest Control Kits sales, many landlords are carrying out home improvement and maintenance by themselves. Pest control is no exception, such as spraying for bugs and rodent exclusion.
What types of DIY pest control exist?
It is good to note that the most natural form of pest prevention and control is good hygiene. The problem is there’s only so much you can do to affect how clean your tenants keep the place. Unless it’s wholly trashed and a health issue, you will need to focus on other methods to keep the pests under control.
Other than good hygiene practices, you can rid your home of pests through three major ways:
Chemical Pest Control
This is the control of pests using substances that destroy the pests, repel them, or simply prevent them from coming into an area. It is the use of pesticides like insecticides, rodenticides, and acaricides. These can be directly applied to the pests or to the area where they can enter the home.
Biological Pest Control
This is less common than chemical control. In this case, you can use another organism that is a natural enemy of the pest to feed on them through a series of actions such as predation and parasitism. The advantage of this is that the risk of poisoning is eliminated.
An example of this is bringing in cats to keep rodents under control or introducing spiders to your property to help with flying insects. Even though this can work, most landlords going the DIY pest control route simply choose chemicals because they’re easier to work with.
Physical Pest Control
This results from having a tightly sealed home. If it’s not properly sealed, your tenants are going to get a lot more visitors than they’d like. For example, older homes often left a gap between the top of the siding and the roof. This gap is large enough for small rodents to get through. Installing rodent exclusion, such as a metal brace to close the gap, prevents the critters from getting in.
Also, in properties with a crawl space and a raised floor, you may consider putting up chicken/mesh wire around the side of the home to keep pests from living under the property.
Pros and Cons of DIY Pest Control vs. Calling the Pros
Professional: Though the cost of hiring an expert may be higher in the short run compared to when you do it on your own, it may pay off considerably after some years. Also, don’t discount the value of your own time. If it could be spent building more business or doing other things, there is something to be said for that as well.
DIY: This is cheaper in the short run, and the cost is the major advantage over hiring an expert. Of course, you won’t have to pay for the labor, but you will have to buy such items as insecticides, sprayers, protective gear, and suits.
In the long run, if DIY remedies are not well carried out, the problem may become exacerbated. This allows the pests to fester and grow in number, causing more damage. This happens if the initial DIY measures that were employed did not tackle the root cause of the infestation.
Professional: The expert you hire has probably been doing this for years. He or she can easily detect what you can’t. Through the initial examination of your home, he or she will likely offer a much more informed solution that will address both the immediate and future needs.
Solutions offered will control the pest and administer the solution within a reasonable time frame.
DIY: Usually is most effective if the area of infestation is smaller in scope. In the case of a bigger area, you may not be well equipped with the know-how to carry out an examination of the infestation. This limits the reliability of your diagnosis of the real issue. At this point, the process is done by guesswork, and errors are likely. So even though short-term control may be achieved, long-term control is less likely.
Safety and Management
Professional: The experts understand the pests, how they operate and how best to deal with them without jeopardizing the safety of the living situation on the property. Pets, plants, food, and humans all need to be taken into consideration. Professional extermination crews have practical experience with chemicals that are safe. The careful administration of these measures ensures that no harm is done to you or the home.
DIY: There are many cheap DIY products and chemicals available in stores. If not properly administered, it could have negative health impacts on the residents, causing vomiting, rashes, and even difficulty in breathing. Extra precautions should be taken before, during, and after the application of such chemicals.
Additionally, and without heavy consideration, are the legal implications of failing to properly administer any chemicals, especially if the residence is occupied.
Professional: Many pest control companies include warranties in their extermination policies, but you should ask before hiring them.
- What kind of guarantee do they offer?
- Will they return for free treatment if the first extermination doesn’t eradicate the pests?
- How do they handle the risks involved in the extermination process?
Questions like these will help put you more at ease if you know that the professional has policies that take care of these.
DIY: Your product may come with a warranty, depending on the store or the manufacturer. If the DIY pest control product does not come with one, you will have to bear the consequences of the product application all alone. If anything goes wrong, you incur more costs and will have to deal with the damages further caused by these untamed pests.
Any DIY solutions are unlikely to be covered by any existing insurance policies regarding health hazards to residents. You should ensure that you’re covered or have a failsafe plan in place should you administer any chemicals that have detrimental effects on residents’ health.
Professional: From diagnostic services to actual treatment, experts do a thorough job by ensuring that the control services offered are based on careful examination of the situation.
The good news is that not every professional charges for diagnosis. They give you a graphic view of the pests on your property and a control plan.
Also, another diagnostic is done after treatment to ensure that the control measure is effective as planned. With the range of services offered by the pest control expert, you are assured of a thorough job with maximum effect. Because the expert has done many other jobs, he or she knows exactly what to do from the first minute you make contact.
DIY: If you have no previous practical experience in pest control, you will need to depend on books, articles, or even videos that explain and teach you how to go about the processes. You will have to learn on the job and adhere strictly to the safety precautions. This, of course, will not give you the top-notch effectiveness you need in dealing with those annoying pests.
With DIY pest control, you do a lot of guesswork. If you are unlucky and your guesswork isn’t entirely practical, you end up spending more money, or these unwanted visitors further damage your property.
Professional: When it comes to large pest infestations, a licensed exterminator will more than likely achieve a better and quicker result than when you handle it yourself, giving you the desired peace of mind and satisfaction.
DIY: There are many DIY Pest Control kits that promise 100% satisfaction to users. But you should note that good satisfaction is not just about content. Usage and application determine a significant portion of the effectiveness.
If the infestation is massive and the situation is uncontrollable, you may need to think again about DIY pest control. You want to make sure the job is done right the first time, which usually involves hiring the pros.
But if the property is relatively pest-free and it’s just routine maintenance, DIY can be a great option to help you save a lot of money in the long run. Just be sure you’re not putting your residents at risk.