Termites found during building and pest inspection: What to do
Here's what to do next
You’ve received your building and pest report and it states that termites or termite damage was found during the inspection. Understandably, you’re probably wondering where to go from here and what you should do.
In this blog, we will guide you through some important information and questions to ask to help you determine the right course of action for you.
1. Understand termites
Termites are very common in Queensland due to our climate. In fact, a recent study revealed that termites cause more damage than storms, floods, and fires combined. Given this, it is not uncommon for live termites or termite damage to be found during a building and pest inspection.
Termites are fascinating creatures that play an important role in our ecosystem. Classed as decomposers, they eat wood and break down dead plant material to recycle into nutrients in the environment. Termites become a problem when they encounter the human world. Due to the sheer size of each colony, termites can cause significant damage to a home if left undetected.
That’s why it is important to ask the right questions if termites or termite damage have been found. You need to determine whether the property is still right for you or whether you need to withdraw from the purchase.
2. Understand the limitations of a building and pest inspection
A building and pest inspection is a visual inspection of a property to determine its current condition. Under Australian Standards, building and pest inspectors can only visually check accessible areas within 30 meters of the home. This means building and pest inspectors cannot move stored goods, furniture, lift carpet, look behind curtains, or remove wall sheets to see what’s happening behind those areas.
Unfortunately, this means that building and pest inspectors may not be able to identify the full extent of live termites or termite damage at a property. As there may be more termites and termite damage located in other areas of the home that are concealed or inaccessible such as behind a wall.
The building and pest inspectors do use every tool available to them to identify any evidence of live termites and termite damage. Such as a moisture meter and thermal imaging camera. However, there’s simply no way of seeing behind walls and other solid objects without conducting a more invasive inspection. For this reason, the full extent of the termite infestation or termite damage may only become present once you move into the property and start renovating.
3. Will the building and pest inspector advise me not to buy the house?
A professional building and pest inspector will not comment on whether you should or shouldn’t buy the property. Instead, the role of the building and pest inspector is to provide you with enough information that you can make an informed decision.
Every situation is unique. Some buyers will buy the property regardless of defects and will happily make the necessary repairs. Others will walk away from the property. As it is all dependent on the severity of the termite infestation and/or termite damage, your budget, and whether you have the desire or capacity to complete repairs. For this reason, building and pest inspectors cannot be reasonably expected to understand all the details of each situation to adequately advise whether the home is a good purchase for you or not.
Ultimately, it’s your decision whether to buy the property based on the findings of the report. The report is there simply to help you have enough information about the property to make the decision, based on your current circumstances. Our inspectors are always available after the inspection if you have any follow up questions after receiving your report.
4. Were live termites found during building and pest inspection?
If live termites were found at the property, there are some important factors to consider. Firstly, the termites will need to be treated (generally at the expense of the current owner). This treatment is a slow-acting chemical that the treated termites take back to the nest with the purpose of eradicating the entire colony.
Secondly, whilst the treatment is effective, there is no guarantee that the termites will be completely eradicated. As it may take 2-3 weeks before the entire colony is poisoned. Likewise, depending on the severity of the infestation, multiple treatments may be required to completely eradicate the termites.
Lastly, termites are highly elusive creatures and may still be hiding in other areas of the house or property. Whilst this is rare, it is important to be aware of the possibility of this occurring.
5. What does it mean when termite damage is found but there are no live termites?
Sometimes, termite damage will be found during a building and pest inspection but there is no evidence of live termites. This generally means one of two things:
- The termites are still there but have moved to another location or are in a concealed area of the home.
- It is old termite damage from a previous termite attack. However, this conclusion can only be made if further investigations have been conducted to assess the extent of the damage and all signs point to no living termites at the property.
Regardless of whether it is old or new damage, it is important to repair any damage and remove any termite structures (mudding or nests) as soon as possible. The removal of any termite damage or structures should only be completed by a professional as termites may still be hiding in there.
It is highly important to repair any termite damage and remove structures. Termites are more likely to invade a home that has previously had an infestation. As they will use the existing tunnels and structures to gain access to the house.
6. Where is the damage located and what's the extent of it?
The location of the termites or termite damage is an important factor in determining if a house is still right for you. For example, it is very common for termites to be found outside in gardens but not in the house. Whilst the termites still need to be treated it is not as concerning as termites being found in the house.
There is more cause for concern if termites or termite damage have been found within the house. As it may be difficult to determine the extent of the damage or infestation. Termites are highly elusive creatures that like dark, damp areas. This means that they are often hiding in concealed areas such as behind walls.
Thus, making it very difficult to determine the full extent of the damage or infestation without conducting an invasive inspection. This may involve drilling holes in walls, removing plaster, lifting carpet, removing tiles, and pulling off skirting boards to name a few methods.
7. Communicate with the current owner
Before deciding, you may find it helpful to speak with the current owner and ask them a few questions. For example, they may be able to advise when the termite damage occurred, its extent and provide evidence of treatment and repairs. Such as invoices from a licensed pest controller or carpenter.
Likewise, licensed pest control companies will issue a certificate of spot treatment or installation of a chemical termite barrier. Sensible homeowners will have kept a copy of these certificates and will be willing to supply them to you.
8. How can I prevent future termite infestations?
If decide to purchase the house, it is vital that you take preventative measures to minimize the risk of future infestations.
Firstly, make sure you act on all the conducive conditions listed in the report. This may include things like ensuring air conditioning overflow is properly diverted, no timber debris laying around the yard and trimming branches and leaves away from the gutters. Secondly, it is important to repair any termite damage as previous damage is a conducive condition for a future attack. Finally, make sure you keep the termite management plan active and current at the property.
Have peace of mind with Dedant Building and Pest Inspections
At Dedant, our inspectors are fully licensed and highly experienced to carry out building and pest inspections, timber pest inspections, installing termite barriers and treating termites.