Bat in My Attic

I’ve shared some of the problems I’ve experienced with my home, but I never shared much about where it is. I live right on the intersection of Lodge Street and Pine Street in Albany, NY. My house is near Albany City Hall, which is located at 24 Eagle St, Albany, NY 12207. St. Peter’s Church and St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church are only a block away from me, which is also nice. I love the whole Capital Region, but downtown Albany is my home. Apparently it’s also a home for flying night creatures because I found a bat in my attic yesterday and almost had a heart attack. I searched bat abatement online and couldn’t find anything, so I called a pest control company who quoted $1,000 for bat removal. Bat abatement companies usually charge $3,000 or more, so that was great news. The exterminator came over to my place, set up special “exclusion” traps to catch the bats, and then left. Within a couple hours, he had caught 3 bats. Then he sealed all the entrances to the attic (soffit vent and some other crevasses). Bats apparently fly in through windows and squeeze through But, I still don’t like the fact that stuff just keeps happening with this house. It’s like that saying about Murphy’s Law – anything that can go wrong will. Instead of staying here, I’m thinking I might move into the Monroe Apartments over on Sheridan Avenue.

I don’t know if it’ll change the bat situation because it’s only a few blocks away, but at least the place is new. Homes have bat problems, but I’ve never heard of a bat flying around someone’s apartment. Guess we’ll see though. This is what the bat looked like. Brown bats are from this region of New York. They’re cool looking, I just don’t want them living in my house. Their poop, or guano, is loaded with bacteria and can cause all kinds of health issues, so it’s best to get it removed (along with the flying creatures) right away. bat in my attic

Need Help Finding a Plumber Now

Have you ever seen that movie Money Pit with Tom Hanks? He buys this dilapidated house and everything starts falling apart right after he signs the paperwork for it. It feels like the same thing is happening to me. I purchased this place a few years ago and it seemed perfect. At the time, all the major appliances were working correctly, it’s in a good neighborhood, everything was perfect or so it appeared. A few days ago, I almost blew up my house because of a gas leak with the boiler. And today the plumbing is working correctly. The toilet bowl is not filling with water and the shower drain is clogged. My hair is short and I don’t have women over here frequently so it can’t be hair in the pipe. I tried snaking the pipe with a hangar that I bent into a long line with a hook on the end, but nothing came up. I’m guessing I need a plumber to repair this stuff because I definitely don’t know how to do it. Does anyone know a good plumbing company you can recommend? I found plumbing contractors online that offer drain cleaning and toilet repair nearby, but I’m not sure how to choose between them. Their websites all have the same services and they both have great reviews online. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! As a side note, I’m going to start tracking all the repairs I have to make to this house. If it gets too crazy, I might just move back into an apartment. I can’t keep paying thousands of dollars in repairs.

Boiler Broke on Tuesday

I enjoy owning a home. It’s nice to have a house to relax in, the big yard, the fence, the dog, but I absolutely hate paying for repairs on the bigger appliances like the refrigerator, dryer, washer, or the boiler! When I bought the house 3 years ago, all of these items were brand new, so I didn’t expect to have to fix anything for at least 10 years. On Tuesday, I had just gotten home from work and my house was freezing and it smelled like gas. I didn’t know what was going on, so I went downstairs to check the steam boiler and it wouldn’t turn on. I tried pressing and holding the reset switch first, but nothing happened. The pilot light was blinking and the unit wasn’t working, so I found some boiler services online and called heating contractors at for boiler repair. They sent over a boiler service professional to check it out and he identified a leak in the pressure valve. The boiler unit pressure was unable to build up because gas was escaping into the house. Thankfully they were able to fix the boiler valve quickly and remove the gas fumes from the house. The place could have burned down! We had to leave all the windows open for 4 hours to clear the air out and get some fresh air in from outside. I don’t remember ever having to deal with any of this when I had an apartment. It was very scary, but at least the heat works again.

Choose Asphalt Driveway Paving Over Concrete

After helping with over $100,000 in home renovations at my previous estate, my friend’s house, and now on my new property, I am well aware of the different materials and labor involved in various projects, such as asphalt driveways for example.

The question everyone always asks is whether to pave a driveway with asphalt or concrete. In my opinion, it’s pretty simple. Asphalt driveway paving is the way to go because it’s cheaper and it’s easier to repair. Residential properties don’t need concrete slabs; they need asphalt laid to perfection. Need more reasons? I’ve done the research on this, so have a read and then tell me why you would choose differently.

Asphalt Costs Less Than Concrete

Asphalt costs between $2 and $5 per square foot of material. Then, you have to add in the cost of other compaction material, such gravel, sand, or whatever else is being used to form the base. After all the materials are accounted for, the labor cost gets added in. In total, the driveway ends up being a few thousand dollars. Certainly not a bad price for something that lasts 20 years with only minor repairs every so often.

Concrete on the other costs between $3 and $10 per square foot, and most times, the price is closer to the latter amount. You still have to add in compaction materials to establish the base for the concrete to be laid on, and labor is factored in as well. If you want to add any decorative elements, such as a stamped concrete pattern, the price goes up even more.

So, looking at the decision from the price point alone, homeowners should be asking for residential asphalt paving for their driveways, not concrete installation.

Maintenance for Asphalt versus Concrete

Asphalt driveway maintenance is relatively small. Small cracks form from time to time and require asphalt patches or hot mix to fill the gaps. Between hot mix and a quick seal-coat, the home’s driveway is back to working order in a matter of minutes.

Concrete driveway maintenance is more of a pain in the butt. Because concrete is installed in slabs, the whole slab needs to be replaced when there’s a crack. If instead of area of the concrete starts to sink, then you’ll have to hire a mudjacker or a concrete leveling contractor to handle it. Mudjacking is an older method and more expensive, so you’d end up leveling the concrete instead. The company pumps in a special foam that raises the concrete to the correct level.

Considering what you now know about maintenance, which driveway sounds better? Asphalt paving is more affordable and easier to maintain.

How the Weather Affects Asphalt Paving vs Concrete

The weather is the only other main factor to consider for driveway paving. Asphalt pavement shrinks and expands with temperature changes, while concrete does not. So, if you’re in a cold climate, the asphalt driveway is a clear winner; concrete will crack if it’s subjected to enough pressure and it’s cold enough outside. If you’re in a hot climate, concrete driveways are more attractive. That’s one of the reasons why places like Albany, NY or anywhere upstate for instance pave almost exclusively with asphalt or blacktop, and places like Houston, TX or Florida choose concrete.

The Artistry of My New Pool

There are so many forms of art in everyday life.  I’ve have always admired the way true artists envision their work and create amazing masterpieces that put people in awe.  That same creative instinct is needed when you’re designing your dream home.  I have mine.  I combined the layouts of multiple homes into one to fit my unique desire, and I was able to find a competent builder to handle construction for me.

Our house is huge.  It’s got 4 full baths and 12 bedrooms spread across 2 floors, a large family room, a full kitchen with a giant vent hood, and a study.  It also has a finished basement.  The only thing that I was missing was a pool.  I know what you’re thinking…why would I need a pool in Sarasota when I’m close to water?  I just want it.  I enjoy going in the saltwater, bodysurfing, and riding in waves on my board, but there’s nothing quite like relaxing in a pool.  You can’t exactly relax in the ocean when waves are smashing into you with the force of a moving car.

So, I decided to have a pool built, which created a problem – who to pick.  There are a million pool builders in Sarasota, so I had to start narrowing the pack.  I went through reviews on Facebook, Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, Four Square, and a few other review sites first.  This gave me a good idea of experience and how the different pool contractors treat their customers; that’s huge when you’re going to have to spend so much time with them.  In addition, pool construction is a huge expense, so you must make sure you’ve got the right company.

After filtering our companies with ratings of 4 stars and less, I moved on to licensing.  Pool builders are required to have specific licenses for their work.  Everyone checked out for this, so it didn’t help me much.  My last step was to ask friends who’ve got pools to see who they used.  I spoke with 11 homeowners, a college, and the owner of a waterpark.  Out of 13 possible pools, 9 of them were built by the same company!  Sarasota Pool Builders creates custom pools in Sarasota, FL for residential and commercial properties.  Their website is if you want to check it out. They came highly recommended because they provide quality craftsmanship at an affordable price.

So, I hired Sarasota Pool Builders and we got to work with the design.  They created a 3-level figure 8 pool with a top-level infinity edge, a waterfall, underwater lighting, and a water slide.  The pool came out better than I could have hoped for.  My kids love the water slide, and my wife loves the draining pool at the bottom.  It’s got a tropical feel like you’d see at some hidden waterfall in a rainforest somewhere.  Once we put the patio chairs out, it was complete and I’m now a happy camper.  Anyways, we were happy to provide this testimonial for Sarasota Pool Builders and are here if you have any questions about our experience working with them.

Keys to Proper Deck Maintenance

Decks have always been an extremely popular low-cost method of adding living space to your home in Sarasota, FL. Having an outdoor deck always adds charm to a home. A deck is often the best place to entertain guests and loved ones. Since this is a spot in your home that generates a lot of traffic and use, it’s best to make sure that it is properly maintained.

If not properly cared for, your deck will show wear and tear pretty soon. Unlike the indoors, an outdoor deck is constantly exposed to the variable weather of the area. As such, deck maintenance is critical to prevent discoloration caused by dirt, moss, algae, and other plants. These deck enemies tear apart the surface of the wood. Splinters form, creating a rougher surface that is even more inviting to dirt and plants. Before long, you have a dingy deck that’s treacherous when wet and riddled with splinters. As a homeowner, there are several things you can do to help keep your deck healthy. Here are some of them:

Periodic Washing

Your outdoor deck accumulates dirt and wood fibers over time. If you have a hose, it’s best to apply a bit of pressure on running water and wash away the dirt. It’s important to keep the pressure stream moving because you can end up gouging the wood. After a wash, let your deck dry overnight.

Annual Deck Inspection

As a homeowner, it should be part of your habit to do a yearly or bi-annual inspection of your deck. Check for any loose boards or protruding nails that may need to be replaced or repaired. Clear the deck of any furniture that may hamper your inspection. If you happen to have a concrete deck, check around for any cracks or discoloration.

Paint or Stain the Deck

Though some people choose to paint their decks with deck paint, most take advantage of the natural beauty of expensive decking woods by using a clear or lightly stained finish as the final step of their deck maintenance. This method can cost up to $850. While it can be effective in keeping your deck looking new, it doesn’t really add to the safety of the surface.

Use Rubaroc

This is a mixture of high tech polymer resins and high quality color-fast rubber granules. It does not crack under extreme temperatures. Instead, it expands and contracts to accommodate both temperature shifts and ground movement. This means that you’ll have a crack free deck surface! It is easy to install and makes any surface non-slip and resilient. If you aren’t at all sure how to do it yourself, call in a certified dealer and installer.

Plants for Your Florida Pool Deck

When you’ve finally brought your pool and deck dreams into the realm of reality, it’s time to start thinking of what should go around it. We’re talking about plants, in particular here. When you’ve got a pool that’s near a deck, you have a sort of paradise tucked away that needs a little push to come to life.

This push means that you, as the homeowner, need to carefully select which plants should go around your pool and deck. If you have a heated pool, the raised humidity levels can end up frying nearby landscaping. If you happen to be in Florida, the tropical environment offers a plethora of plant choices for you to select from. When you consider choosing a plant, it’s always important to remember these few details:

  • Color and Texture
  • Scent
  • Ease of Maintenance
  • Design and theme of your home

 Let’s take a look at some of the best plants to go around a Florida pool.

Banana Trees

Yep, best believe that this is actually a fairly good idea for a pool in Florida. The climate is ideal for it and it gives your pool and deck a tropical feel. Banana trees grow fairly fast and you even have bananas to look forward to in the nearby future. It’s crucial that they be planted at a spot that isn’t very windy.

Birds of Paradise

This is a classic when going for a tropical feel for your backyard. There are two variations for the Birds of Paradise: giant and small. The giant Birds of Paradise are great as a backdrop for your pool and near your outdoor deck. The vivid orange red of the blossoms is eye-catching and instantly transports one to a sort of island feel. The smaller variation of this plant is perfect for poolscaping.


One of the more easily recognizable blossoms and often associated with a vacation, the Hibiscus is a perfect blossom to plant near your pool or deck. The large and vibrant blossoms come in a variation of shades that you can choose from. As the body of this plant can grow quite large, it’s best to trim it fairly regularly. Putting this near a deck is a good way to give a splash of color.


A Jasmine is a vine plant so it’s perfect if you want a lush sort of feel for your pool or deck area. It thrives in warm climates so it’s perfect for Florida. While it’s still young, train the vines so they only go through certain sections. The Jasmine can carry a sweet smell that is perfect for nights.

What else do you need to keep in mind when it comes to plants, pools, and decks?

The answer: Weeds. Whenever there are plants or plant growth present, weeds will be a threat. As such, it’s important to have your pool deck area treated properly so this isn’t a recurring issue.