How Do I Get Rid of Bed Bugs? The 203k!
From Abercrombie & Fitch to Victoria’s Secret; from hotels to homes, New York City has faced a serious bed bug problem over the last year. The problem has crossed the country, too. If you’ve watched the news in the last 6 months or so, you’ve probably seen the stories that bed bugs have infested several states. The wingless insects that feed on the blood of sleeping people are difficult to exterminate, which is why professional exterminators are busy with killing bed bugs right now. The DIY crowd just can’t cut it; you need a professional. We talked to Griffin Pest Solutions about some of the treatments and the general costs involved. Here’s a look at what we found out.
Bed Bug Solutions
There’s a labor-intensive chemical application that can go on for months. This treatment depends on how neat you keep your space. It will take a several treatments to get rid of the bed bugs. Denise DeVries with Griffin says, "It’s cost effective, but a lot of work for the customer. The clutter must go in order for the treatment to be successful."
She tells me it’s around $400 for a one bedroom apartment and can take somewhere around 3 months. So imagine the cost when you take the problem into a house.
Another treatment is extreme heat. The exterminators bring in heaters and heat up the home to 130 degrees for 3-to-4 hours. The heat kills the bed bugs without chemicals. And the cost can be around $1,000 for a small space, running up to the $5,000 mark for bigger homes.
Other treatments include vapor steam and cryonite (freezing). Cryonite uses carbon dioxide and produces a dry mist that is not known to damage most surfaces.
So as you can see, the treatments can get pricy. Denise says she’s heard of people in New York City paying $20,000 or more to get rid of bed bugs.
Why Are Bed Bugs So Tenacious?
Part of the problem is that the bugs are nocturnal, so you won’t see them during the day. Also, they’re tiny and can get into the smallest spaces. Bed bugs can live in seams of your bed, in the carpet, even inside your electrical outlets and insulation. They also travel easily. "They’re hitchhikers," Denise told me. "It’s very pricey. There’s really no silver bullet." So these pests are not easily conquered.
Many people find themselves in a pickle when a bed bug infestation takes over their lives. Insurance generally doesn’t cover the cost. A lot of folks use their credit cards, borrow from family or even turn to their church for help.
What Are My Options?
One option out there many people may not think of is the FHA 203k loan. Whether it’s a refinance or a purchase, the 203k mortgage loan covers things like replacing carpet and other renovations, and health and safety issues. 203k expert Joe Daly says, "The wording may not include bed bugs since they weren’t a problem in 1978 when the program was put together, but health and safety covers a lot of issues." So taking care of a bed bug problem in a house you want may just be a matter of amortizing the cost over the life of your mortgage. This option may be much better than using a high interest credit card or borrowing from family.
(Bed Bug Photo: Piotr Naskrecki)