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Old 12-03-2009, 12:31 AM
 
82 posts, read 247,077 times
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My wife and I recently had a home inspected and the inspector discovered termite damage in 3-4 separate areas in the home. It seemed isolated to a small portion of the wood in these areas. Upon opening up the damaged wood, there was no active infestation. The inspector was unable to determine if the damage was more current or old. There was a sill that was damaged (small portion) and the homeowner agreed to repair the damaged sill. Reading around a few places, I have read that this requires jacking the home up to replace the damaged area. I'm not sure what was done but I was told it was fixed. What was a concern was mud tubes found in one of the areas. The homeowners specified that the house was inspected and treated regularly and have the paperwork to support it. The house is unoccupied and the tubes (2 or 3) were on an interior section, yet the termite inspection turns up clean. We are under the impression that inspections are supposed to have those tubes removed and if they turn up again, prove there is still an issue. Without any access to this interior area, we are not sure how to view this.

Our question is what is the best way to determine if there is active infestation? How do we determine if the damage found is old or current? What can be done to determine if there is any infestation/damage behind the walls where the tubes were discovered or any other hidden areas? We are aware that termites are an issue on LI and don't want to overreact but we certainly do not want a lemon. We are torn b/c we like the home and area. We are trying to make the most informed decision and are thinking about having a termite professional come down but don't know how capable they are at determining current activity.

Second part is [another] recommendation on who to go with for this type of termite inspection? We are looking for someone reputable who is good for this situation and is not your brother or cousin (sorry, no plugs but if they are good, lets hear it). I know this question has been asked as I've searched close to 100 pages for termite company recommendations but we were hoping to dig up a few more with a specific situation.

The trials and tribulations of home buying........

TIA
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Old 12-03-2009, 07:54 AM
 
Location: Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX
1,210 posts, read 2,799,556 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LI BraveOne View Post
Our question is what is the best way to determine if there is active infestation? How do we determine if the damage found is old or current? What can be done to determine if there is any infestation/damage behind the walls where the tubes were discovered or any other hidden areas?

The trials and tribulations of home buying........

TIA
Active infestation will require a visual confirmation of termites. I've knocked tubes open and actually seen the termites scurrying around. Just did one not long ago and found a section of soft baseboard. Poked it, broke the surface and watched them scatter. There is at least one inspection franchise out there that claims to use sensitive acoustic listening instruments, infrared thermal imaging and other methods to determine the presence of activity. I've also read about one WDI Inspector who claims his termite sniffing dog can find active versus old termite areas. Dogs have been trained very well to sniff out termites but only this one makes the claim of being able to determine current activity. So far I have not seen any major success cases with either of these methods for seeking out and finding active termites.

Determining the age of damage is not an exact process and can't really be performed with any accuracy without a history of damage and treatments to the home.

Infrared Thermal Imaging is a very useful tool to spot potential damage to framing members and other termite damaged wood, and potential termite colonies, behind wall coverings, etc. However, thermal imaging is a non-destructive test method used to find signs and/or symptoms of troubles in these cases. It would still require destructive test methods, i.e. removing sheetrock, boring, etc., to confirm exactly what the thermal anomaly is. I can tell you that when properly performed thermal imaging can find some extraordinary things.

If you do use thermal imaging please use a qualified Thermographer for the work. If you email me I can send you some links and what to look for. Be prepared though as it is not a cheap inspection process just for the thermal imaging. While the Thermographer is searching for structural damage they can also perform other checks as well, i.e. insulation missing or settled, water leakage issues, electrical issues, and many others.

Replacing sill plates can be a simple or more complex job, depending on the foundation type, access, etc. Generally jacking requires only a very slight amount to remove the damaged wood, slide a new section in and secure it down, then lower the remaining structure back on it. The height needed can be as little as 1/16 inch. I would speak to the homeowner to learn what was done, how it was done and how much was done. Ask them if they have before and after pictures or receipts from the tradesman doing the job, etc., and check it out and the tradesman that did it.

It is good that you are checking everything instead of just buying on your feelings. Use your instincts as well when you make that final decision. I would expect on LI it is an expensive home? If it is as important to you as you feel then possibly these other checks/inspections would be worth it?

Good luck!
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Old 12-04-2009, 09:53 AM
 
Location: Visitation between Wal-Mart & Home Depot
8,310 posts, read 21,556,296 times
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Are you sure you want this house?
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Old 12-04-2009, 01:55 PM
 
82 posts, read 247,077 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimboburnsy View Post
Are you sure you want this house?
Ummmm yeah....lol Sorry but I wouldn't have asked if I were not interested. We are going to have an opportunity to see behind a wall or two to see if there is current damage. Hopefully there isn't but time will tell.
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Old 12-05-2009, 11:10 AM
 
42,614 posts, read 46,420,892 times
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I have never seen a house treated and inspected in which the tubes that were visible were not removed ;so as to allow further inspections of the house as part of a treatment routine be effective as to new problems. But then there are all kind of inspections and treatemts ;some good and some poorly done.What you need is both a good termite inspection done and a good home inspection that will determine the extent of damage or personally I would walk.Good luck.
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Old 12-05-2009, 11:52 AM
 
Location: Visitation between Wal-Mart & Home Depot
8,310 posts, read 21,556,296 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LI BraveOne View Post
Ummmm yeah....lol Sorry but I wouldn't have asked if I were not interested. We are going to have an opportunity to see behind a wall or two to see if there is current damage. Hopefully there isn't but time will tell.
I ask because termites can be a pretty serious structural issue that requires a lot of expenditure to fix (would you buy a house with an unrepaired, cracked slab?) and it is fairly unlikely that a small-scope inspection is going to reveal the true extent of the damage. I'm sure you know this, but proceed with a lot of caution. Having some old termite damage doesn't necessarily mean that you will have recurring problems with the house or that the only thing holding the structure up is the sheetrock - but it could. I would feel pretty lucky to unload a house with termite damage for anything close to my preferred asking price.

I guess I would rather have evidence of an old infestation rather than an active one, but one isn't necessarily that much better than the other...
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Old 12-05-2009, 12:39 PM
 
82 posts, read 247,077 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimboburnsy View Post
I ask because termites can be a pretty serious structural issue that requires a lot of expenditure to fix (would you buy a house with an unrepaired, cracked slab?) and it is fairly unlikely that a small-scope inspection is going to reveal the true extent of the damage. I'm sure you know this, but proceed with a lot of caution. Having some old termite damage doesn't necessarily mean that you will have recurring problems with the house or that the only thing holding the structure up is the sheetrock - but it could. I would feel pretty lucky to unload a house with termite damage for anything close to my preferred asking price.

I guess I would rather have evidence of an old infestation rather than an active one, but one isn't necessarily that much better than the other...
This is exactly it Jim. It's a difficult situation. The damage that was visible was not terrible. I have seen examples of a lot worse. Asking our inspector to compare the damage he had seen in our example vs other homes he inspected with damage, he said this is by far not the worst case but certainly not the least case he's seen. We asked for an honest opinion if we should move on and he said he was unsure. Granted, it's not his purchase but just for other POV's.

We have had 3 inspections done on other homes and failed or came up with things we weren't willing to deal with at the onset of our new purchase. This is the 1st home that had a termite issue. We have been asking people like crazy what their take is and after reading much on the internet and here, its truly a mixed bag. Some say walk just b/c there is damage not knowing the extent (it is a popular problem in the NE) while others say (even a termite guy who is a friend of the family) it can be limited and its not that expensive to replace or sister up a few beams. While I agree with both sides, it comes down to how much we like the house, the location and the price along with several other factors.

The sellers have offered to reduce the price but we may come back and offer less and see where it goes. We are in the drivers seat and don't want to overreact to the issue but certainly don't want to underestimate it. Maybe this is another sign......

Tex dave, while I agree, this tube was interior and behind some storage. I am hoping that it was just a poor job done by the inspection company but if that is the case, how accurate can their report really be? It was only 2 tubes and there was no activity within them which leads us to believe that they are old. Perhaps we are wanting this to work out too much but we are hoping to see no damage once this same wall is opened up.

Thanks all for the answers. This is quite a diverse community which I hope to frequent more often.
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Old 05-01-2012, 05:42 PM
 
1 posts, read 22,931 times
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I stumbled on this thread from Google, and am wondering if you can share what you ended doing, and how it turned out?

We are in a similar situation right now. The house (in Brooklyn) is almost perfect for us, but the termite problem is giving us pause (in a big way). There is damage in the garage, and also a structurally important area in the basement. There is evidence that it is recent a, rather than old, problem, but nothing is certain as we didn't find any live specimens or wings (inspector did say it's probably a bit early in the year for that). Owner says that it was treated about 10 years ago when she bought the house.

If you ended up buying, do you regret it now because of a recurring problem? If you walked away, was there a specific consideration that ultimately caused you to do that? Would appreciate any feedback that you can give.

Thanks!
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Old 05-03-2012, 11:29 AM
 
Location: Galloway, NJ
1,868 posts, read 2,352,786 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LI BraveOne View Post
Our question is what is the best way to determine if there is active infestation? How do we determine if the damage found is old or current?
If it's an Active infestation, you would be able to see termites, Terminates don't leave the house because there's more tastily wood down the street. They continue eating away until either killed or your house is a pile of scrap wood. As for Old or Current damage, I don't see the difference, damage is damage, and must be repaired. If your looking for possibility of more termites, I would carefully search the house for termite tubes coming up from the ground to the house, both inside and out. If there no tubes, without access to water, terminates quickly die.

Quote:
Originally Posted by yuchai View Post
Owner says that it was treated about 10 years ago when she bought the house.
And she never had repairs done? If what you say, a structurally important area in the basement, that would give me serious pause, old terminate damage doesn't get better with age. I'd be concerned with settlement issues, as the weight of the house presses on structurally compromised supports.
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Old 05-04-2012, 02:56 AM
 
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
11,568 posts, read 9,791,658 times
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When I moved from Minnesota (no termite problems up there) to Phoenix in '93 I was oblivious to the problem of termites when I bought my house there, figuring how could termites survive in the desert, and being this house was all brick except the roof!

What a rude awakening, seeing those brown streaks appear below the ceiling. I had the termite control people out to my house 10 times in 3 years and I was worried I'd never sell that house because of it.

When I went to sell it, I told my real estate agent about the termite problem, and asked her to guide me thru the seller's disclosure statement. Aware of the termite problem, she instructed me to merely state that I have the house regularly treated for termites, I need not state anything more! So I trusted her advice, never questioned if she was right or wrong. Was just glad to get rid of it, having learned that a neighbor had to have his entire roof replaced due to termite destruction.

Well, now I'm in Las Vegas, and I've never heard of anyone having termite problems up here, don't even need a termite inspection here. Must have something to do with our 4 inches of rain a year, the termites would die of thirst?

Having traveled widely throughout Latin America, and observing their housing construction there, with not only concrete walls, but concrete ceilings as well, I don't know why we can't do that here! Back, a few years ago, when I had a house designed for me in Baja, Mexico, the entire house was to be built out of concrete, even the roof, allowing for a nice rooftop deck, and metal windows. What would the termites have to eat in a house like that?
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