This is the last article from Handy Macs Clanwilliam stoep.

Clanwilliam - Let me begin by wishing you all a happy and prosperous 2016.

I believe it’s going to be a watershed year for many: we have municipal elections coming up, interest rates on the move, a drought and goodness knows what else waiting around the corner.

So I think we should be cautious and make sure that we spend every cent wisely, especially when it comes to our homes. Always remember that maintenance must be kept up – if you leave it the cost of repairing things to later down the line is just going to get bigger.

I also want to thank all my readers for the Christmas good wishes I received, thanking me for my help throughout the year and wishing us luck with our move back to the city.

This will be the last article written from the stoep in Clanwilliam and I am taking the opportunity to sit in the cool morning air before we get another day of 40-plus temperatures.

All being well, by the time you read this I’ll be busy in Lakeside unpacking boxes, probably over a hundred. We did not really get into the Christmas spirit this year but have concentrated on packing and getting rid of junk – and this is where I want to kick off this year.

I cannot believe what we have dumped both up here and in Cape Town – there must have been over five bakkie-loads donated to charity. Not only have we had to chuck stuff like bed linen because it has yellowed, but the cost of insuring it is also becoming prohibitive.

Why do we hoard stuff? I think we really do spend money on things we don’t need to impress people we don’t really like.

I am not a great believer in New Year’s resolutions as I seldom keep them, but I have decided from now on I am not going to have more than two of anything and will replace them only when they are on their last legs.

So, no new purchases unless they are to replace things that have passed their sell-by dates.

Every cent we save by doing this is going to go towards making life more fun, something that we tend to forget about as we get older. Yes, we want to live in a spotless and organised house, but being surrounded by clutter is depressing. Standing in the empty Lakeside home has made me realise that space equals freedom and the chance to do more with our lives. Also, as we get older we tend to take fewer chances because we fear the future, so we stick to old and trusted methods instead of embracing the challenge and doing things ourselves.

Our son and his wife were living in our Lakeside home so I have had to invest in another property. I did this site unseen – we gave them a budget and left the choice to them. At some stage you have to learn to trust the kids and they have made a great choice. Then they decided to re-paint their new home themselves. I was sceptical as, like me, my son is not great with his hands, but they have done a wonderful job and learnt so much about themselves and what they are capable of along the way. Even the colours are a great choice, so resolution two for the year is to give everyone a chance to do things themselves rather than just deciding to do it myself in the belief that no one can do it better than me.

Right, it’s now 7.23am and time to move into the study with its air-con as it is too hot to stay on the stoep.

The executive director of the Master Builders Association, Allen Bodill, said this in his end-of-year message, echoing some of my points:

In addition, the interest-rate cycle now appears to be on the increase after a lengthy period of record low rates. Coupled to the challenges faced by the design professions in obtaining timeous planning approvals from the local authority, 2016 will surely be a year to exercise extreme caution and will no doubt prove another testing time for many of our members.

Allen has offered to assist me with problems faced by readers in relation to any difficulties they may have with MBA members.

Tip of the week

Having decided to move back to town, the first thing we needed to do was to find someone to move us. This is another industry where you need to read the fine print very carefully.

We went with a couple of recommendations and then also sent off our details to a website that guarantees you six quotes within 48 hours. Well, I think I got four, and two only arrived last week.

The prices quoted ranged from R6 500 to R38 000, with the R6 500 offering to match any better quote and the R38 000 offering to drop to R30 000 after we had queried the quote.

Maybe some of them don’t know where Clanwilliam is, or my request that they pack the goods means they pack the goods, not give me the boxes to pack myself. The company we have chosen has been great to date and their references checked out. The proof of the pudding will be if I am able to write my next article from Cape Town. I will give you their name in next week’s column.

Questions and answers

QUESTION: I would be grateful for advice on the problem we have with borer beetle in our semi-detached home in Wynberg in Cape Town. We have received a quote from a qualified person with a good reputation to treat our home with gas. We’ve been told that we should vacate our home in order to do this as well as remove carpets, food, furnishings, and clothing items.

Because our house is a semi, our neighbours, who are renting, will have to do the same. We will be liable for the cost for a large family staying in other accommodation for two days. This is all completely impossible even if we had their co-operation, which we have been unable to obtain. We have located a local source of CTX108 which was recommended by a website. They recommend sanding down the floors and using this product. Should we lift the floors and send them away to be fumigated before re-laying?

What if the beetles are under the built-in wardrobes or in the flooring joists? We have two vents running under the house, could something be done through them? The floors are not in need of sanding but perhaps this is necessary?

The whole thing is a nightmare. Any further advice you can give us would be much appreciated, time is of the essence as these beetles are going rampant. Maybe the new paint has upset them? – Jill

ANSWER I don’t know too much about this subject, but I have managed to do a little research and feel this is a job best left to professional pest exterminators. But there are a few other things you need to consider.

I don’t know how long you intend staying in your home or how much you love your wooden floors, but whatever the answer, you will not be able to sell the house without a beetle-free certificate, so you need to do something sooner rather than later.

I like to start by remedying the cause before attacking the problem. It would appear that borer beetles like damp areas or older wood which has not had modern treatments. So you could have damp problems under the floors or possibly have brought in an antique piece of furniture complete with beetles. Reading through the different treatments it appears that there is not a permanent solution unless the cause is eradicated. So, are you prepared to go to the trouble of solving the damp problem if there is one?

Secondly, I would not consider spending a cent until you have had a thorough check done on how much damage the beetles have done to date. If the beetles have attacked the supporting members under the floorboards it could be that you will be faced with structural problems further down the line so you need to know the full extent of the problem or you might find you’re throwing good money after bad.

The product you mention above appears to have a good name, but it certainly appears that you would need to sand the floors first to allow it to penetrate properly. Again, before sanding, you need to check the condition of the existing floor, as floors can only take a certain amount of sanding before they become too thin and structurally unsound.

As for lifting the floor and sending it away, the chances of you getting it up and back down looking like it does now are limited – pieces will split, and the tongue and grooved joints will be broken off, etc.

It is obvious that you need to get under the floor to see what is going on. You could break through the side of the wall below floor level, or have a trapdoor fitted to allow continual access. Whichever way you get under the floor it will give you the opportunity to check for damp and damage.

Much as we all love timber floors they do become a problem with age and at some stage you are going to have to make a call on whether to replace them with timber again or fill them in with concrete and lay something else on top. There are many products on the market now that look almost natural.

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