Buying a home is extremely exciting, and once you’ve found the property you want, it can be tempting to let some issues slide. Minor repairs may not seem very important, and it’s easy to think you can put some things off until later. A termite inspection, however, cannot wait. In addition to a traditional home inspection, it’s smart to hire a licensed termite inspector to check out your property before you commit.
Why Is It So Important to Have a Termite Inspection Before You Sign a Contract on a House?
Termites can be insidious, and the current homeowners could have an infestation and not even know it. It’s entirely possible to miss the signs of termites if you don’t know what they area. What’s more, termite damage costs more than $5 billion dollars annually, costing homeowners far more than damaged caused by tornadoes, hurricanes, and flooding. Termite damage is not typically covered by homeowner’s insurance, but early detection can substantially reduce repair costs. Traditional home inspectors aren’t usually trained in termite inspection, and these inspections are so crucial that many lenders are now requiring borrowers to hire a professional, licensed termite inspector before buying a home.
If you’d like to give the house a once-over yourself before calling in an inspector, there are a few things you can do to determine if termites are likely. Ask the sellers if they’ve had the home inspected annually and treated to protect against termites. Ask them to move anything that would obstruct your inspection, and then look for places where the earth comes into contact with wood, any areas of stress or moisture to drywall or paint, floors that slope or seem to give when you step on them, or problems with the gutter system.
If you find obvious signs of a termite infestation, you may decide to pass on the house without enlisting the help of a professional inspector. Even if you’d thought you’d found your dream home, termites can turn it into a nightmare. Even after the house has been treated, you’ll be left with expensive repairs and possible long-term damage. If you think you still might want to go ahead with the purchase even after you’ve found signs of an infestation, you definitely need to call in a licensed termite inspector before you make any final decisions.
What’s Involved in a Termite Inspection?
The process lasts about an hour, and at that time, the termite specialist will thoroughly inspect the home, from the attic to the basement, as well as the outside of the house and the yard.
Starting at the front door, the inspector will check every room thoroughly. Checking doorframes, probing suspicious areas with a special tool, and checking all the surfaces of the room, he or she will look for slightly raised areas in paint or wallpaper that could indicate termite activity, as well as exit holes and dropped termite wings on door frames and window sills.
The inspector will also carefully examine cabinets and flooring. Cracks in cabinetry, doorframes, and window frames could indicate termite activity. Soft spots in linoleum flooring might indicate wood damage caused by these pests. In checking the house, the inspector will use a special tool that helps to detect hollowed-out areas in wood. When tapped with this instrument, wood that is damaged will make a different sound than wood in good condition.
In the attic and crawl space, the inspector will continue a thorough inspection. Checking the roof rafters that support the roof sheathing, the ridge pole to which the rafters are attached, and the joists to which the ceiling is attached, he or she will look for signs of damage. In the crawl space, the inspection will include wood beams, floor joists, foundation walls, pipes, and the fireplace foundation.
Damage to the house must be handled quickly. Damage to the perimeter of the house, expansion joints, slab, or plumbing is dangerous to the safety and functionality of your house.
Once the inspector has assessed the inside, he or she will move to the outside. In addition to walking the perimeter of the house, the inspector will examine wooden structures on the property, observe drainage patterns, and check the siding, windows, frames, and eaves of the house. What indicates termite presence in the outdoor areas? One of the main indicators is mud tubes running up the side of the foundation wall. The inspector will also be looking for wood to soil contact, which could cause an issue.
The inspector’s report will indicate more than just existing termite activity. Obviously, the report will detail current signs of a termite infestation, including visual indications like wood dust, wings, mud tubes, or tree damage. The report will also offer information about damage or issues that might create conditions favorable to a termite infestation in the future. It might note wood stacked against the house, water leaks, mold, or cracks that could pose a problem. The inspector may also note prior treatment and damage from previous infestations, and then wrap up the report by recommending actions that should be taken to protect the property.
Let’s say the report comes back clear, and you decide to buy the house. Are you in the clear for termites? Sadly, no. The American Society of Home Inspectors recommends inspections at least every three to five years, or annually if the house appears vulnerable to infestation. As a homeowner, there are things you can do to make your home less vulnerable.
Keep water at bay. Make sure your basement, attic, crawl space and other areas are well-ventilated and kept dry. Repair leaks as soon as they happen, paying attention to faucets, pipes, and AC units on the home’s exterior.
Don’t create homes for pests. Store firewood away from the house, as well as lifted off of the ground. It should be at least five inches from the ground and twenty feet away from the exterior walls of the house. Mulch, too, should be kept away from the house: at least fifteen inches from the foundation.
Keep your vegetation tidy. Trim trees and bushes so that they don’t touch the house.
Learn the signs of infestation and look for them regularly. Look for mud tubes, cracked or bubbling paint, wood that sounds hollow when you tap it, discarded wings, and small holes in your window frames. If you see tell-tale signs, call in a professional for help eradicating termites.
Termite Inspections by MightyMite Termite Services
At MightyMite Termite Services, we perform termite inspections to ensure that the property you’re considering is free of pests. Once you’ve purchased a house, we can help you keep your home safe from termites, using treatments that are naturally derived and have a low impact on the environment. We diagnose and treat infestations with the most effective methods and unmatched warranties, solving your termite problems the first time, with an industry-best “no call-back rate.” That, combined with our experience, technology, and highly trained professional staff, makes us the leading extermination company in the Bay Area. We understand that your home is your most important investment, so we work hard to provide excellent service, utilizing industry best practices to solve our customers’ termite problems in Northern California. For more information, call us today at 408-377-3761, email Info@mightymitetermite.com, or contact us through our website.