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Termites – that gnawing feeling

By 2604 - 7 October 2008 22

My girlfriend and I have had our eyes on a house that’s been on the market for several months now, and a big drop in the asking price has finally inspired us to make an appointment to inspect.

The house ticks all of our boxes – great location, lots of bedrooms and living space, and big core-area block. We’re inspecting it this Saturday, and in the meantime, I’ve been reading the contract for sale.

Which brings me to our dilemma: the weep-holes in the brickwork at one end of the house are concealed by the concrete driveway. Apparently, this is a big no-no as termites can easily gain access to the frame and start eating the woodwork. The building inspection report rates the risk of termite infestation as “moderate to high”.

My questions are:

– Even though this is our dream house, is it crazy to consider purchasing a house with this kind of identified risk?
– Does anyone know whether some preventive treatment could be undertaken which could ameliorate this risk (at seller’s expense, of course!) I’m thinking some chemical barrier or treatment.
– Has anyone tried to purchase a house with a similar identified issue, and encountered difficulties with home lenders, etc?

Thanks in advance!
2604

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22 Responses to
Termites – that gnawing feeling
jmac 11:38 am 08 Oct 08

tylersmayhem said :

The building inspection report rates the risk of termite infestation as “moderate to high”.

You’ll find that about 90% of houses, if not 100% in Canberra will have “moderate to high” as a rating. Because of the Canberra climate, proximity to bush reserve etc, it’s a natural environment for termites.

This is very true, we recently purchased a house that is nearly 30 years old…the whole place was overgrown and it was a mess. The standard inspection told us that the risk of a bunch of pests was moderate to high.

We purchased the property anyway and got another pest inspection done. Nothing was found which was reassuring but we were told to make sure there was no dead wood lying around, overgrown plants etc. They did also mention that concrete around the house was not the best idea but it seems like everyone has been getting conflicting reports on this one.

My advice is like others here, get your own inspection done, i don’t think the standard ones that are completed to sell a property are that great but don’t get put off by the ‘Moderate to High’ comments…i think it’s pretty standard. Covers the companies i think!

Pesty 11:37 am 08 Oct 08

A full termite inspection around $270

there is NO fool proof termite protection. baiting stations can be by-passed, gaps in chemical barriers can alow them to pass (you have no way of knowing if there is a gap or not)concrete slabs can have cracks, poor seals around service pipes can allow them in, regular inspection is the best preventative measure. If there is a big gum tree within 50 meters of your property, be vigilant.

There are a lot of cowboys out there in this industry, bigger is definately not better, this is true of pest control in general, not just termites. So many of the “technicians” are just low paid labourers with little knowledge doing the job until something better comes along, which is why independent smaller operators are best. But be careful! Easyrid, Pestkil, Checkpest, Capital Pest Control (CPC) are all part of Rentokil, I’m not saying they are bad, just not small anymore!

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_ 10:32 am 08 Oct 08

OK, this is where your negotiation skills come in. Phone the real estate agent and propose the following deal:

You choose a pest inspector and get the inspection done. If you decide not to go ahead with the property inspection on the basis of the pest report, you pay for the report. If you buy the property, the vendor reduces the price of the property by the cost of the report. That way, you get to find out if the termites are really there. If there are termites, you found out cheaply and learnt something. If there are no termites you still get the property and didn’t have to pay for the report. The vendor will be very likely to agree, since their property has been on the market for ages and it’s only a few hundred bucks anyway (if that).

If this really is your dream home, and the price is right, don’t let a little thing like a pest inspection stand in your way!

Thumper 10:17 am 08 Oct 08

The best protection is prevention.

Remove all old wood lying around, especially under the house, and also ensure that you have excellent ventilation under your house.

This will help to persuade the little buggers to go elsewhere. A pest exterminator should then be able to use a pyrethrum derivative as a barrier against them.

tylersmayhem 9:54 am 08 Oct 08

My house is just about termite proof because it is completely skirted by concrete. We have at least a concrete path on all sides, if not larger concrete slabs.

Now I’m a little confused. When investigating structures and termites etc, apparently concrete slabs can be worse, as they conceal any termite activity. Apparently termites can build little tubes to get around concrete etc. I always though concrete and concrete slabs would be the best defense, but after talking to professionals, this still doesn’t guard against sub-terrainian termites.

Thumper 9:38 am 08 Oct 08

Correct RandomGit, however, what you save in termites you lose in salt retention in your bricks. Bricks have a capillary action that sucks water up from the ground. In the water is salt, the concrete makes it harder for the bricks to get rid of the moisture and therefore the salt. The salt crystalises and over time literally turns the brick into dust.

Not that it really matters as it takes a long time 😉

For a good look at what salt can do to a building go and look at some brick places in goulburn, especially older ones. Have a look at the tops of the walls and you will see peeling paint or powdery residue. The powdery residue is the remains of brick subject to salt attack.

All interesting stuff either way 😉

RandomGit 9:30 am 08 Oct 08

My house is just about termite proof because it is completely skirted by concrete. We have at least a concrete path on all sides, if not larger concrete slabs. Apparently the termites can only get at your walls if there is surface soil against them, like a garden. They won’t burrow through the dirt to reach your tasty woodwork.

At least, that’s what my father in law told me and it was his house. He has a knack for over engineering.

I’m happy to be re-informed.

tylersmayhem 8:58 am 08 Oct 08

The building inspection report rates the risk of termite infestation as “moderate to high”.

You’ll find that about 90% of houses, if not 100% in Canberra will have “moderate to high” as a rating. Because of the Canberra climate, proximity to bush reserve etc, it’s a natural environment for termites.

It’s quite a coincidence, because I was researching termites and carpenter ants yesterday, because I cut down a dead apple tree on the weekend, and there was what would appear to be a carpenter ant nest in the tree. Got me in to a little bit of a panic – but I think it will be okay after doing some research.

This is all really good advice. Find a good pest inspector (none suggested so far) and get them to inspect before buying. I’m not sure I’d put it off buying the house because of just the potential risk. If there was existing or current damage to the property, I’d think again.

Another gay “where can I buy a cup of coffee” post

I’ll bite – I think this is quite a bit different than “where do I find a good cup of coffee” you knob! It seems you have a little too much time if you’re going through posts and offering immature and useless ramblings. And I really am quite lost as to how in ANY way this post has to do with homosexuality?! Cretin!

S4anta 8:48 am 08 Oct 08

Start raising Numbats or Bilbys.

Jamie Wheeler 8:19 am 08 Oct 08

I’ve had alot of experience with termites. When I bought my house, the property inspection identified termites on the property. I made sure to attend the inspection and I saw the very thorough job done. Termites were found underneath the property but were not believed to be attacking the building (yet). We took a risk and bought the house anyway with the seller paying 1/2 the treatment costs for a 2 year plan. A few months after moving in the termites began attacking a door frame. They damaged the frame and one wall stud but fortunately stopped there. Luckily, the pest control company managed to get bait stations in and the nest was wiped out. We had minor damage easily fixed. The pest control company caused us lost of grief. They were hopeless! Make sure to get a recommendation before getting one.

Even though our experience was scary, my advice would be don’t be scared away from the sale. How old is the house – 30 years? It’s still standing so the risk can’t be that high! Maybe make a lower offer and get a very thorough pest and property inspection done. Once you move in you can take many steps to reduce termite risk and inspect regularly for problems – eg remove railway sleepers, fix leaking plumbing, remove vegetation up against the house… etc etc.

As for preventative measures, do your research. Chemical barriers are very expensive and the ones used these days don’t last long. Bait stations for monitoring purposes might be better. Get plenty of quotes and recommendations – our crappy pest controller charged a mint for poor service and never turning up half the time. They were worse than the termites!

Good luck!

barking toad 8:15 am 08 Oct 08

Another gay “where can I buy a cup of coffee” post

Thumper 8:10 am 08 Oct 08

Just remember an inspector will give you a report and a recommendation, but it means nothing in the end as you can not sue him if he is wrong.

I’d be surprised if there were a termite infestation given the dry weather. The drop in price is not unusual with the instability in the current market.

deezagood 5:41 am 08 Oct 08

I agree with 1turbo – get a proper pest inspection (from a termite specialist) and if all good, then buy your dream home. Small price to pay in the big scheme of home buying. The termite dudes will tell you exactly what you need to do to minimise risk of a future infestation, and in Canberra, everyone should use a termite prevention system anyway, especially if yu live near any sort of gum trees (and most of us do). We have been really happy with a company called ‘Armageddon’ (Kambah) and they have placed a perimeter defence (non chemical – all natural materials) around our house (basically little stations) that they check quarterly to monitor any termite activity. Costs a few hundred dollars to set up and then an annual fee, but worth it for the peace of mind. We had a termite infestation in our old railway sleepers in the backyard – the Armageddon folks discovered and took care of the problem straight away (takes about 2 – 3 months to kill a nest). Good luck!

p996911turbo 1:16 am 08 Oct 08

Ask a termite inspector to come with you to inspect the property. Any reasonable real estate agent that believes you are genuinely interested in buying the property will be happy to let you bring in a pro to check the place out. I don’t know what it would cost for an inspection but if you’re talking about several hundred thousand dollars for a house then why not spend several hundred dollars to find out if it really is your dream house?

Jonathon Reynolds 11:39 pm 07 Oct 08

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