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termites

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DenisS
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 367 NJ
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2006-08-31          133857


I put a bid on a house. The inspector found a lot of termite activity in the detached garage and some activity in the house. So far in my life I haven't had any houses with termites, but my real estate agent says they are common around here and that if there's no serious damage done, a treatment should take care of the problem.

Right now my plan is to have the seller have the property treated professionally to exterminate the critters, then have a structural inspection (probably rip out some sheetrock in 8-12 places in the house to check on the frame) to confirm that no serious damage has been done. Then get a termite insurance contract and do a preventive treatment of the property every 5 years or so.

My question is, is there such thing as an insignificant termite presence? Should I pull out of the deal just because there are termites found, or it can be dealt with fairly effectively.

Thanks a lot; I really need some advice from people who are not financially vested in this transaction.

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2006-08-31          133858


We just sold my Mom's house. The inspection turned up some termite damage in the garage. We opened up the garage wall and replaced the sill plate and a couple of studs. A pest control company charged a few hundred bucks to dig and bait and offered a one-year warranty. It didn't seem to be a big deal to the buyer or inspector after that. ....

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7141 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2006-08-31          133859


Denis, first of all, yes termites are very common.

The amount of termite damage is the key, it's like a car wreck, was it a fender bender, or was it totalled, only an inspection can tell.

The norm up here for any kind of damage found during a pre-sale inspection, is to do 1 of 2 things.

1) The vendor does all repairs, at their cost, to the satisfaction of the inspector who signs off on it, I.E. his insurance is on the hook.

2) Negotiate a discount and take the gamble that you will come out money ahead.

The advantage of 2) is that if you can do the owrk yourself you can save *really* big, and even if you can't, at least you know the work ewas done properly and by your choice of contractors, and under your supervision.

You also need to determine the CAUSE of the termites getting in, if you don't cut of the problem of them getting in, you will NEVER stop the infestation.

Best of luck.
....

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DenisS
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 367 NJ
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2006-08-31          133860


Thanks guys,

Ken, same thing here - the worst of it is in the garage, and it's mostly superficial.

Murf, what would be the cause? I thought the only thing that would cause the termites to go into any house would be hunger. You're saying you can do things other than just killing the bugs? There are minor drainage issues with the place, I guess if I dealt with that I could make the ground less hospitable for the termites. ....

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kthompson
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5219 South Carolina
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2006-08-31          133861


Here if you are buying with a loan on the property your only choice would be to back out or it to be fixxed before the closing. If no loan it is up to negoation.

As has been said it can be from not just begun to house falling down.

The warranty is only as good as the company. I had a contract with Orkin on my first house. Had minor termite damage, only took about 3 months for them to pay for it. They were honest when I called them on it. Said it would take that long. They also were not willing to do a terminte inspection on my house even under contract with them for the buyer. Guess who did not treat our new house nor does work for use any longer.

They love moisture.
kt ....

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2006-08-31          133862


In our case the garage was enclosed after the house was built and when the siding was installed it came in contact with the ground. An easy fix. Wet wood is very inviting to termites so you need to make sure all water drains away from the house and all leaks are promptly fixed. ....

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Peters
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 3034 Northern AL
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2006-09-01          133884


After we had the house fire we found termite damage in the carport area that had been transformed into a room. I think the fact that the wood is closer to the ground allows the termites to enter easier. On the new house the wood is about 2 and a half feet from the earth. The termites have to build a tunnel up the wall to enter the wood. I also used pressure treated sills so the first wood they would encounter would not be too tasty.
The garage is separate and concrete with metal trusses so bon appetit you little buggers. ....

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termites

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7141 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2006-09-01          133885


As all have mentioned, moisture is the key.

If you can keep the ground around the building as dry as possible, you will go a long way to stopping them in the first place. Termites hate dry soil.

Wood / earth contact is the other big no-no. Even something as seemingly harmless as a pile of firewood next to the house can provide a bridge in for the little pests.

I don't know if it really works or not, but an old guy who had been a builder his whole life in an area known for termite problems said to be sure that there was 2' of clear brick sand around the perimiter of the house, and to do everything humanly possible to ensure that it stayed dry and there would never be an issue with termites. He claimed that 2' of sand did two things, it kept a dry 'moat' around the house that they didn't like, and the soft sand prevented them from making and keeping the tunnels necessary for underground travel.

He swore that no house he had ever built this way had had a problem with termites.

Best of luck. ....

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DenisS
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 367 NJ
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2006-09-01          133891


The place where the termites entered the house is where a concrete patio is coming up close to the sill-plate and the patio has sloped towards the house causing water to accumulate there during rain and get to the wood. So, first thing I need to do is get rid of that patio.

I like the sand suggestion except sand will hold more water than top soil, so during rain the water will accumulate next to the foundation, instead of running away from it. Probably not an issue if you only have two inches.

The garage is bone appetit indeed; The wood is too close to the ground. The only thing I can do is see if there's slope enough to direct the rain runoff from the garage (as well as the house) to the street.

The real estate values are something else. 10 years ago same money would have gotten me a brand new 4,000 sq ft. home. ....

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7141 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2006-09-01          133895


Denis, before you trash that concrete patio, check and see if there is a SlabJackers franchise in your area.

They can inject a mixture under the existing slab and lift it back up to where it should be, or even higher.

You are a little off with the sand, topsoil contains both organics and clay or silt, sand is nothing but small pieces of stone, it has NO ability to hold water. It has bigger voids to allow waer to pass through, but by it's very composition it is unable to HOLD water.

You are on the right track though, the biggest hurdle is to get the water running AWAY from the house, not to it.

As for the garage, if the elevations allow it, you can often dig a shallow ditch around the perimiter of a building, called a swale, which will carry the water off to where it can run to a ditch, or if not possible, a drain pipe which can then take it to either a surface outlet (ditch, ravine, etc.) or to a dry well, a hole in the ground filled with stone to act as a collector for rain water until the ground can absorb it later.

Best of luck. ....

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DenisS
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 367 NJ
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2006-09-01          133900


Thanks Murf, a swale around the garage is a good idea, I can even direct it towards a vegetable garden perimeter watering swale.

The original patio was poured right at the level of the screen door and the siding so there's no place for it to go. When I do the new patio, I will have it installed ~ 6 inches below the screen door opening to keep the snow and rain water away from the wood.

Here is what I meant about the sand. Say I have top soil (or fill) next to the foundation all the way down to the footings. Now if I dig up some of the fill right next to the foundation all along the wall and fill the resulting ditch with sand, what's gonna happen with rain when it hits the ground. In the area where there's top soil, water penetration rate will be lower than in the area where there's sand. Water will run towards the area where it can penetrate the ground faster which is where my sand is. Here it will saturate the sand intil it hits the topsoil a few inches below the send-bed. Now, I have a lot of wet sand right next to my foundation wall. That's what I want to avoid.

But, like I said, two inches may be just enough to keep the bugs unhappy and not enough to be a problem as I described above. ....

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7141 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2006-09-01          133902


Ahh, my mistake, I misunderstood you, I meant 2' of sand out from the wall, from the surface to the footings.

I agree, a slab at grade and flush with the door sill is not good.

Best of luck. ....

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