Don’t Make These Mistakes When Selecting Termite Treatment
Mistake #1: Find the Cheapest Termite Company
Of course we wanted to save money, but sometimes trying to save too much can end up costing more! As an example, a homeowner required three bids for termite work.
Two inspectors recommended fumigation because rightly so, dry wood termites were seen everywhere and some were coming from areas that could not be accessed without opening up walls or ceilings. However, the homeowner was not happy with the estimates and decided to get the third inspector who called for a spot treatment at half the price.
Little did the homeowner know that in the third termite report, it showed that the spot treatment was a “secondary recommendation” in lieu of a fumigation. When the termite certification was reviewed by the lender, the lender spots the words “…this item is a secondary recommendation and is considered below standard…” Immediately, the lender rejects the certification and requires a new one. Banks would like to protect their equity too, you know.
Escrow is about to close and frantically the homeowner calls the termite company to correct the situation by performing a fumigation. The termite company shows the homeowner that since it is written in the report that spot treatment was a secondary treatment, the homeowner has to pay the full price for the fumigation. The homeowner is now beating a deadline and may end up paying more for the termite work.
Lesson: Do not always go for the lowest price. Take time to read termite reports well and if you have questions, ask the inspector. A good inspector though will explain the report without being asked.
Mistake #2: Painting or Doing Repairs Before a Termite Inspection
Although a good paint job adds value to your house, it can mask termite evidence, which a termite inspector would eventually discover. Depending on the recommended treatment, a homeowner may have to redo some painting work. Fumigation makes use of masking tape to hold the tarp to some parts of the house like the roof, wall, eaves, etc. Sometimes, when the tape is removed, it leaves marks on the paint or even worse, peels off the paint. That is why this condition is included in termite disclaimers.
In some cases, termite or dry rot damage is painted over. When the termite inspector recommends wood repair or replacement, the homeowner may have to re-paint those places where wood repair has been done. It may help if you still have some of the original paint left or if you know what paint color is used, if not, color matching may be very difficult.
Another situation is making repairs before a termite inspection. Often times, the termite inspector finds some other places where wood has to be replaced. What happens is that homeowners have to call back their contractor to make the necessary repairs and ended up being charged more for extra work.
Lesson: Always have a termite inspection early on. By doing so, you’ll save more money by doing repairs or painting with your contractor the right way the first time.
Mistake #3: Forgetting to Check with HOA if Termite Work is Covered
If you live in a condominium complex and you have a Homeowners Association doing the maintenance, it is best if you get in touch with the HOA or even the management company (if you have one) to see if you are covered for termite work. Most HOAs cover only the common areas of your complex (ex. exterior, basement garage, attic, etc.), however, some HOAs also cover the interior of the units. Termite work can cost close to about $600. This is money saved by the homeowner if HOA covers termite work. More information here
Lesson: Do not always assume that HOA will not cover termite treatments inside condominium units. A homeowner can save a substantial amount of money by making a simple phone call to the HOA board members or management company.
Mistake #4: Not Paying Attention to Plumbing Leaks
Water is one big culprit that takes money away from you. You might not take a small leak under your kitchen sink seriously, but in time, that leak can cause serious problems that can cost thousands of dollars in dry rot repair. You might think that a loose toilet would not poise a serious problem, but water leaking underneath it can cause a substantial amount of dry rot damage. Most often, plumbing leaks, if you deal with them early enough are easy to repair. Most leaks from the kitchen sink are from faulty washers or even deteriorated caulking which are fairly easy to repair. Loose toilet seats can simply be repaired by replacing the wax seal and re-tightening the bolts that hold the seat to the floor.
Lesson: Repair plumbing leaks as early as possible before water causes dry rot damage. Dry rot damage can extend into areas that are not obvious to the homeowner (or even the termite inspector) and has the potential to drain the homeowner off equity dollars.
Mistake #5: Deal With Knowledgeable Inspectors That You Can Trust
Easier said than done huh? I have to emphasize this more than enough because most of the inspectors out there are on a commission basis (like us). And it would seem that it is for the best interest of the inspector to find as much fault as possible to maximize potential earnings. Here are some criteria that I would consider a good inspector must have:
Thorough inspections – it should take about an average of about 1.5 to 2 hours to inspect a typical 3 bedroom, 2 bath house with a garage and a raised foundation.
Thorough reports – reports should be well written, including all section 1 and section 2 items as well as the location of inaccessible areas.
Proper communication – inspectors know termite reports by heart, but homeowners may have a daunting task in deciphering it. A good inspector communicates the findings and recommendations as well as the estimates to the homeowner.
Proper coordination – a termite inspector should properly coordinate with the homeowner or real estate agent for timely delivery of termite certifications. He should be aware of escrow deadlines, types of loans (FHA or conventional), ability to hold meetings with tenants, etc.
Knowledgeable – the inspector must have a good understanding of the laws and regulations of the Structural Pest Control Board. A homeowner can pay more than a thousand dollars to have a shower pan replaced because it was called for in the termite report as a section 1 item. A knowledgeable inspector will call a shower pan leak as a section 2 item if there are no infestations caused by the leak.
Lesson: Ask your friends for referrals. Check with the Better Business Bureau or with the Structural Pest Control Board. Be diligent to make sure you have an honest termite inspector who knows what he/she is doing.
Mistake #6: Deal With Companies Who Do Not Offer Alternative Treatments
I have experienced this many, many times, where a recommendation for fumigation was given by another termite inspector, because one infestation of dry wood termites was found inside a garage or sometimes the eaves. A common excuse by termite inspectors is that “if you find one termite spot, then there should be other spots that we cannot see, therefore the house needs to be fumigated.” Costing homeowners thousands of dollars in unnecessary costs. The Structural Pest Control Board is very clear, that if a termite infestation does not extend into inaccessible areas, spot or local treatments can be done. If the infestation does extend into an inaccessible area, still, there are several ways of dealing with it, not necessarily by fumigation.
Lesson: Do not put up with a termite company, or termite inspectors who always or automatically recommend fumigation. It may be the only service that they offer.
Note: This article was intended as an overview only and thoroughness of the subject matter is not the main objective. It is always recommended to consult with a licensed termite inspector for more details.