The most important words in a termite report may be, “the

[…] area was inaccessible for inspection. An unknown further inspection is recommended.” Here’s why:

Have you ever purchased a piece of fruit with a tiny blemish? After you trim off the bad part, the rest of the fruit is often juicy and perfect; however, sometimes you’ll find critters crawling around the pit. In a termite report we’d call the pit an “inaccessible area.”

Just as with the fruit pit, the area an inspector cannot see is “inaccessible” and may be perfectly fine or it may be riddled with termites and damage. For example, inspectors cannot determine the condition of subfloors that are covered with insulation; the walls of a garage covered with built-in shelves or stacks of cardboard boxes; a deck that is too close to the ground to crawl underneath; or an attic with access blocked by a closet organizer.

Actions for Sellers Agents

  • Before the termite inspection, make sure that access points to the crawlspace and attic(s) are accessible. Ask your sellers to remove stored items from the garage or pull items 36” away from the walls of the garage and from the walls in any cluttered rooms. All doors, gates, and other access points must be unlocked.
  • After you receive the termite report, read it. Don’t just jump to the bid page—it is not a summary of the report! Be familiar with any areas that were inaccessible—these areas will be identified in the body of the report. Either complete the recommend preparations for inspection or have a response ready for potential buyers.

Actions for Buyers Agents

  • Read the report and pay close attention to any areas identified in the body of the report as inaccessible for inspection. These areas may or may not contain infestations or damage.  Only you and your client can weigh the risk these areas pose.

Actions for Homeowners

  • Homeowners who are not involved in a real estate transaction should also pay close attention to any areas identified as inaccessible. If possible, make these areas accessible and request a further inspection.

Real Examples of Inaccessible Areas

In one house, the sub-floor under a bedroom was covered with insulation; because the inspector was unable determine the condition of the sub-floor, he recommended that the insulation be removed and the area inspected. Removing insulation is an expensive proposition so the buyer chose to ignore the recommendation, take the risk and purchase the home. A few months later, the new owner began remodeling the bedroom. Extensive termite damage was found.

Another house had an attic that was inaccessible because the sellers had painted over the access panel, sealing it shut. The buyers purchased the house as-is, knowing that the attic had not been inspected and knowing that the roof needed to be replaced.  Once the roof was opened, the buyers asked for a further inspection. No damage or infestation was found and the roof was replaced (along with a new attic door).

Remember, only Superman has x-ray vision. A termite inspector can only report on what he sees.

This article originally appeared in Silicon Valley Realtor, June 2015

At Thrasher Termite and Pest Control, we make homes healthy through effective pest control, termite inspections, and termite control.  No gimmicks, no nonsense, and when we’re done, no pests. Satisfaction Guaranteed. We’re licensed, bonded and insured. Our family owned business has offices in Silicon Valley [408-354-9944] and in San Diego [619-955-5121].

SERVICES: Termite Inspections, Termite Treatments, Termite Repairs, Pest Control and Eradication: control of Ants, Bed Bugs, Bees, Beetles, Cockroaches, Rats, Mice, Rodents, Flies, Mosquitoes, Wasps, Hornets, Yellow Jackets, Fleas, Ticks, Pantry Pests, Earwigs, Crickets, Flies, Scorpions, Spiders, and more.

Members of both the Pest Control Operators of California (PCOC) and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), Thrasher Termite & Pest Control is well recognized in the pest control industry. We are members in good standing of QualityPro, the mark of excellence in pest management. Janet Thrasher is a Santa Clara Valley District Director of PCOC and a member of the state insurance committee; Garrett Thrasher is San Diego District Treasurer and a Director of PCOC.