Recently, local Washington, D.C. NBC affiliate, NBC News 4, requested all White House work orders. Under the Freedom of Information Act, this request was granted. But among a series of routine requests, like lightbulb replacements, an image of a White House pest infestation issue came into focus.
"They are old buildings," former U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Inspector Brian Miller told News 4. "Any of us who have old houses know old houses need a lot of work."
According to the report, there was no noticeable uptick in service requests between President Barack Obama's last year in the White House and President Donald Trump's first year in the White House. One consistent — and persistent — issue appeared to be the prevalence of various types of pests. Mice have reportedly been an issue in the White House situation room, as well as in the White House Navy mess food service area. Additionally, ants were reported to be taking up residence in White House Chief of Staff John Kelly's office. News 4 also reported that there were four instances of cockroach infestations on the House's grounds.
While nothing in the obtained documents appear to be scandalous or salacious, they offer a peek inside what it takes to keep up with the 132-room building, which has been occupied by every president since John Adams.
According to the report, services large and small are sent to the GSA — everything from lightbulb replacements to new chandelier requests. When the new administration moved in, several requests reflected the home being slightly altered in the face of new occupants.
For example, late in January, a new toilet seat was requested for the Oval Office bathroom. According to News 4, this included a note which asked the repair be done "after hours please."
Similarly, a request was found which asked that the legs of two Martha Washington chairs, which sit in the vice president's office, be refurnished. Like the toilet seat, it was asked that this request be seen through during a time when the vice president would not be around.
Former Press Secretary Sean Spicer also requested to have things switched up — he asked for new furniture and photos in his office. Melania Trump also participated in the freshening. According to reports, she asked for new draperies in her East Wing office.
The subject of the White House's physical condition has surfaced several times since Trump took office in January. In August, Golf Magazine reported that Trump described the presidential residence as "a real dump." Trump and the White House have denied that these remarks were said, though several weeks later, the Washington Post reported that parts of the building were being refreshed and updated while Trump was away.
The last major renovation of the building took place in the 1940s, under President Harry Truman. So, in August, when Trump left for a two-and-a-half-week vacation, crews took over the West Wing and began to implement renovations. Updates included a new heating and air conditioning system, new cables, wires, carpets, and fresh paint.
According to the New York Times, the new air conditioning system had been deemed necessary back in 2014, but GSA did not present a plan for the upgrade until President Obama's final season in office, at which point Obama declined to begin such a large project. It is not clear whether August's West Wing renovations were requested by Trump.
The GSA, which hires contractors and subcontractors to complete necessary work, has been around since 1949. According to its website, it oversees the preservation of over 480 other historic buildings besides the White House.