Carpenter Ants & Deck Flashing

A common occurrence in late spring in New England is the awakening of
carpenter ants. If you start noticing carpenter ants in your house or around a
door or window, it is a tell-tale sign that you may have an infestation.
Carpenter ants burrow in moist wood, however they do not eat the wood,
rather they build colonies, which can compromise the integrity of a structure.
If you see a lot of carpenter ants, you have two issues. The first issue is
that the structure of your house is absorbing water in areas that are not designed
to be wet, and the second issue is that you have carpenter ants attacking that area
of moist wood and compromising the integrity of that area.

Exterior trim such as water tables, brick returns, exterior door casing, or
wooden windowsills, are prime candidates for this phenomenon to occur.
However, the most common occurrence that I have seen during my years as a
carpenter is the kick plate below an exterior door system. Generally, this kick
plate is married to a deck or stoop, and excess moisture is the result of
inadequate flashing and counter flashing. Deck flashing is critical to protecting
your structure because your rim-joists and wall sheathing should not become

Pressure treated lumber

Repairing a rim-joist and sheathing is often difficult because the deck
platform must be altered to repair the rotten wood and insect-damaged wood. I
find that the door system is more than likely a candidate to be replaced during
this process, because the ants travel into the jamb of the door system. Overall,
this repair can become expensive quickly.
What can you do to prevent carpenter ant damage? The first suggestion is
that you hire a skilled carpenter to perform your exterior door installation and
deck construction. There are many products and techniques associated with this
task, but the strongest recommendation is counter flashing followed by
additional counter flashing. Secondly, hire an insect mitigation contractor to
spray the exterior and interior of your house. A trained insect mitigation
company is an effective way to eliminate insect infestations and protect the
structural integrity of your home.

Addition or Remodel?

A common theme that I noticed when quoting a large room addition is that
the addition is an attempt to correct a faulty-existing floor plan. Of course, the
one room addition that serves as a sun room or bedroom is not part of this
equation, but rather the multi-purpose room addition generally is.
Besides the multi-purpose room addition being expensive and potentially
making your house the largest home in your immediate area, I pose the question
as a residential design professional and General Contractor, “Can you make your
existing floor plan function better and eliminate the need for an addition?”
What I know, being a son and grandson of General Contractors, is that the
planning phase of residential design is generally a low priority when building
your home. The development phase of the floor plans is often rushed with an
emphasis on labor and material efficiency. As a result, your floor plans may
have some real practical deficits, which are driving you as the homeowner to
think that the multi-room addition will solve all your organizational issues,
however it may be more practical to remodel than build an addition.
With years of residential design experience, I know that all designs are not
equal and that the challenge of an exceptional design is difficult to achieve.
However, the steps of achieving a well thought out design start with a process,
which could aid you when deciding on an addition vs. a remodel.
The first step that I would recommend to all homeowners is to hire a
design professional to replicate your existing floor plan from which remodeling
projects can be proposed. Consider a veteran General Contractor when hiring a
design professional, because they have a firm grasp on construction methods,
materials, and costs with doing these types of projects.
An additional consultation to consider is either hiring an appraiser or
experienced realtor to evaluate your potential investment. The information
gained from this investment may clue you in on what your existing value is, and
the potential value of your home once you are completed with your project.
Also, there may be some unique details that you should include in your project
to raise the value of your investment.