Termite inspection reports are packed full of great information; but there are ten things that most termite companies will avoid telling you…
1. We can’t find anything. Give us any home to inspect and we will find something, even if that something is a condition that may contribute to a problem in the future such as insufficient ventilation. If we don’t find anything, either we’re incompetent, or the client will think we’re incompetent. The fact is that wood is a natural material and will deteriorate over time. It’s our job to help you make sure that time is far, far in the future.
2. We found everything. We don’t have x-ray vision. The truth is that a drywood termite colony must be at least three years old before there is any visible evidence that the colony exists. We can perform an inspection one day, and the very next day the #$@@% termites finally break through. Dry rot in the structural timbers may be covered by a layer of stucco or siding. Sometimes a customer’s possessions (such as an over-stuffed garage) makes a thorough inspection impossible. Other times, people readying their home for sale will purposely (or accidentally) plaster and paint over signs of termite activity or dry rot. What we can’t see, we can’t identify.
3. Termite pellets do not always signal live drywood termites. Drywood termite poop, also called pellets, is often the first sign of a termite infestation; however, it may not be the sign of an active colony. Once a house is fumigated, the termites die, but their pellets remain inside their hollowed out galleries. Unless all those galleries are found and repaired, the pellets may sift down over time much like sand in an hourglass.
4. Damage repairs will cost exactly….Speaking of repairs, termite companies loathe giving final prices. This is not because we are sneaky or dishonest. It goes back to our lack of x-ray vision. We can only price the cost of repairing the damage it is possible to see. Our contracts state that we will re-bid if further damage is discovered. For example, after we remove damaged siding we may find that the damage extended to the wall framing. What that happens, expect to be given a revised quote. At that point, you may or may not choose to continue with the repairs. That’s only fair to you and to us.
5. Local treatments work. When the organisms attacking the wood (dry rot, fungus, termites, or beetles) are confined to a small area, local treatments may be offered; however, the chance of hidden infestations, particularly when dealing with termites, means that termite companies will also offer comprehensive treatments. Ultimately we want happy customers. Customers are happiest when all termites are eradicated—and the best method for that is to treat the entire structure.
6. Orange oil is a racket. No orange oil company uses orange oil exclusively. Instead this local treatment is combined with imidacloprid, disodium octaborate tetrahydrate, fipronil, and/or sulfuryl fluoride. Why? D-limonene (the active ingredient in orange oil) is a solvent that only kills termites on physical contact, therefore it has a very high chance of missing enough termites to slow down, but not stop established colonies. Consumers who believe orange oil treatment is a “natural” solution may be dismayed to discover the number of synthetic chemicals that are almost always used in combination with orange oil.
7. Most termite companies subcontract fumigations. Because some consumers think that they’ll get a better price and/or service if they obtain service directly from a fumigator, termite companies don’t make a big deal about using subcontractors. The fact is that fumigators only offer retail price to consumers while giving termite companies wholesale. Either way, the consumer will pay the same price for the fumigation, but by going through a termite company they will be covered with double the insurance, an extra layer of protection for their warranty, and double the recourse if anything goes wrong.
8. We found rats in your attic. Termite inspectors see a lot of things that don’t make it into a termite report. The reason is licensing. Termite inspectors as specifically and solely licensed to identify wood destroying organisms. Even if they see a pile of rat droppings and a dead rat, they are prohibited from making a definitive identification. Usually, in the notes section of a report they will recommend inspection by a licensed pest control technician. Some companies, like Thrasher Termite & Pest Control, employ dual licensed inspectors who can and will list signs of other pest activity on a termite report.
9 Dead termites attract ants. Okay, it’s rare, but occasionally a customer will report an increase in ant activity after termite fumigation. Ants will invade the galleries formerly occupied by termites and feast on the dead bugs. Typically the ants will leave when their clean-up job is done without further intervention.
10. Only an idiot would buy this house. We may think it, but we’ll never advise someone about a home purchase. We provide the facts, but it’s up to the customer to make the decision. Sometimes a potential buyer tries to press us for an opinion. Please don’t. It is your agent’s job to advise you. They, and you, should be looking at the entire deal, including possible concessions from the sellers.