Fixing the exterior of house seems ... complicated.
February 5, 2016 3:55 PM   Subscribe

The exterior of our house needs attention. Professional attention.

We have: water damage to the wood siding, peeling paint, woodpecker holes, old failing repairs from prior woodpecker damage, wasps (it's February and one appeared in our house in a room with a closed window, wtf), failing gutters (we clean them out, doesn't seem to make a difference), maybe some other birds are poking around up there. Y'all get the idea.

So, as best as I can tell, we need:
Some sort of pest control service (to get rid of current pests and seal up parts of house where they are getting in);
Repair or replace siding;
Replace gutters;

What is the order of operation here? How many types of tradespeople do we need? This is obviously a lot of work to be done and we'd like it done well. (The prior owners of our house were big fans of DIY and it shows, unfortunately.) Who do we call, and who do we call first? Have you ever had this kind of work done on your home and can you give us advice? Are there home improvement forums that focus on these things?
posted by stowaway to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My parents just had to replace the wooden siding on their house as it had reached the end of its lifespan; the contractor they hired replaced it with brick and in the process also took care of pest control (they had mice), tree removal, and so on. I'd start calling contractors to get quotes and see if they cover all the needed repairs or if not if they have partners/recommended services they like to work with; just make sure you have a good contract.
posted by vegartanipla at 4:07 PM on February 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

I sympathize with the DIY, as my current home was also DIY-ed and I've spent several K un-DIYing it. At any rate, I would start with a general contractor, who can take care of the siding and gutters and fix up any holes; they may also be able to recommend an exterminator for pests. For contractors, see if you can get recommendations from neighbors first, then try something like Angie's List, which I've found to be the best resource in my area, at any rate. (Incidentally, I've had paper wasps chilling out in my walls, which is annoying, but the exterminator told me that they would eventually decamp of their own accord--which they did.) If you have to replace the siding altogether, you may want something like vinyl or aluminum instead of wood, unless that's going to cause aesthetic issues (e.g., you have a nineteenth-century house and non-wood siding would look odd). Also, if it comes to residing instead of just repairing the siding, it may be a good time to update your insulation.
posted by thomas j wise at 4:17 PM on February 5, 2016

I think you should hire an inspector before anything else, because you may have other serious problems you can't easily see. DIYers can do some major damage.
posted by SMPA at 4:26 PM on February 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Nth the inspector, they can also be an excellent resourcfor what order in which to do the repairs and referrals.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:34 PM on February 5, 2016

Response by poster: We already had a thorough inspection done two years ago when we bought the house, what I listed above are all the same issues the inspector brought to our attention.
posted by stowaway at 4:39 PM on February 5, 2016

A General Contractor is definitely the way to go. Mine would tackle everything you listed, with the possible exception of the wasps. He employs/works with a plumber, a cabinet maker, a more general master carpenter, an electrician, and a bunch of guys who are more general muscle. He also handles masonry.

Sorry about the DIY. The amount of undoing DIY work we have tackled in the last almost-decade is extraordinary. One piece of the former electrical work frightened the plumber so badly when he encountered it while replacing a pipe that he walked off the job until the electrician could come in and render it safe.
posted by instead of three wishes at 6:09 PM on February 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you live in a bigger city, check the Facebook handyman and contractor groups in your area. You can throw up a few pictures, ask about your issues, and you'll get lots of good feedback and some quotes.

Our last house had hardboard siding. When it starts to fail it starts to wick up water at the edges. If you're replacing hardboard siding, order it before the contractor is going to put it up and seal all of the edges with a good exterior primer. It's a little step, but it will make it last longer.

If you have hardboard siding now, you may consider replacing it with fiber-cement siding. Fiber-cement siding (a brand name is Hardie Plank) will deter those woodpeckers too. AND Most hardie plank siding is impregnated with a coating so you can choose a color and skip the painting step.

It sounds like you need an "Exterior Contractor" if you need a search term.
posted by Ostara at 6:51 PM on February 5, 2016

What you describe seems like the (possibly delayed) consequences of water getting in to the walls. Maybe it is just the clogged gutters, but if you haven't already done so I'd say get someone to check for a leaky roof. I would not rely solely on the home inspection done at purchase.
posted by mr vino at 7:24 AM on February 6, 2016

Response by poster: A month and several contractor meetings later, I thought I'd update y'all ...

Pest control company inspected the house. No bugs! The errant wasp was just the one. The flickers are not after a food source, they just return year after year because our house feels like home to them.

Roof and gutter company confirmed that our gutters are a disaster, but the roof is good and should be good for a couple more years.

Siding and paint ... oh lord. First couple of contractors we had come out really wanted to sell us vinyl siding. But, only on one side of the house, even though the damage is all over. (Maybe we look cheap? I mean, we are, but ...) I don't really see the point of re-siding only part of the house, because it would increase the cost without dramatically decreasing overall house maintenance costs. Painting companies have carpenters that can replace bits and pieces but the cost of cedar adds up ... not to mention flickers love pecking at cedar siding. Another contractor recommends Hardie plank. Etc., etc., etc.

I guess it all depends on how much we want to spend.
posted by stowaway at 4:31 PM on March 7, 2016

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