Did you know that there are termites in all of the United States with the exception of Alaska because it is the only place cold enough to actually kill off termites. Here in California, termites are really common and can be found in homes as young as 5 years old and as old as hundreds of years old. Often homeowners will not see traces of termite droppings or "pellets" for as many as 5 years after a termite colony moves in, so termites are pretty much everywhere.
There are two forms of termites--subterranean termites (which live in the ground, usually anywhere from 3-10 feet from the foundation of the home) and drywood termites. Like bees, drywood termites have a queen, build a colony and eventually split off from the larger colony to nest in another home. Drywood termites "swarm" in the spring when they fly to another home and then they will shed their wings when they enter their new home and set up a new colony. You can sometimes tell you have termites when you see a proliferations of wings on the ground near the termite entry area. The standard treatment for drywood termites is fumigation with Vikane (R), microwave (spot treatments) or heat (spot treatment). There is also orange oil and some other organic materials that can be used, but I believe the most effective means to wipe out termites is still with fumigant.
Subterranean termites have a queen too, but she is usually somewhere in the ground away from the home. Workers travel through the ground to the home, and usually leave "tubes" made of mud where they come up to the wood of the home. They then take this wood back to the queen. Treatment for subterranean termites is different, and involves drilling holes around the foundation of the home, and placing organic materials in the holes that are taken back to the queen, which eventually destroys the colony. Termite companies will often place "tester" wood pieces into the ground to check periodically to see if a new colony has come into the area.
Now as to your questions of how much infestation would be in a 50 year old home, I'd leave that answer to the termite company that does the inspection for your home.
A properly maintained home can have very little infestation of termites even when it is 50 years old. The best method to keeping termites away from your home is to keep it in good condition at all times. Dryrot, damaged wood or wet wood, and cellulose debris (pieces of wood under the home often left during construction) all work against the homeowner to attract termites. Removing and replacing damaged wood members quickly, keeping the exterior properly painted, and having the home regularly inspected by a termite company (once every two-three years should be enough) will help keep termites from destroying or weakening parts of your home.
On your last question about passing on a home with termites, that's pretty much your decision. In most cases, termites can be effectively erradicated or controlled with proper termite treatments. Again, speak with your termite professional about what should be done for the home. Even as a homeowner, you will continue to have to work with a pest control company to manage termites in the area, so if you're looking only to buy homes that are 100 percent termite free, then, as I mentioned above, you'll need to find a home in Alaska where that type of guarantee is, well, as a guarantee.
So before you pass on a great home, work with your Realtor and your termite professional to determiene how much work and how much the pest control will cost to address the termites in the home.
Area Pro Realty-People's Choice
We have Termites all over in the Bay area, it is very common to find termites in a lot of homes as entire cities are built on what were once orchards.......
Termites can be cleaned up - Drywood Termites (in the walls) with Fumigating the entire structure - actually thats good as you can get this done while the home is vacant, and move into a clean home. Or then if there are Subterrainian Termites (that come up through the soil, and are localized in different spots) that the affected spots can be treated chemically......
Ask your Realtor to check if the Sellers have done a termite inspection, ask for the report which will tell you the extent of the damage and cost too. Its all do-able. You can also get your own Termite Inspection done during your property contingency period and check it out....
If you are not working with a Realtor, do get in touch with me, i can help you through the process of purchase. You should move forward if its a home you really like!
Wishing you only the Best,
An up-to-date Termite Inspection Report shall reveal all termite issues in detail. It will lay out recommendation and give estimate to fix each problem. Termite or wood-destroying infestation is very common in Bay Area, so no need to exclude a property only because of termite. Be sure to review the Termite Report in its entirety and discuss with an experienced Realtor who may connect you to some qualified Contractors for a few quotes on fixing. Fumigation and other professional treatment may be necessary depending on the degree of infestation.
Feel free to contact me if I could be any help!
What you want to do is get qualified inspectors out to the property, then have a professional help you evaluate cost to repair in context to market value to see a; if buying makes sense, and b; if you have the money to buy and do repairs.
Saratoga is a little out of our work area so I suggest you find a great local broker/agent as they should have referrals for you for inspectors.
Lance King/Owner-Managing Broker
Are you working with a Broker to represent you? They should be the first point of contact to help you get the answers and to make decisions on buyer your home.
You will find a lot of our homes in this area are older and most seem to be 50 years or more. Therefore each home will need to be evaluated individually as it will depend on how well it has been maintained over the years.
Have an amazing evening!
It was a swarm of airborne termites attacking the very pile of lumber we were sitting on. The one guarantee you get in California homes or just about any home anywhere for that matter is...................TERMITES! If you can't deal with termites you may want to live in an all aluminum motorhome. LOL!!
Most of homes in the area have some termite issues but very rarely the issues are affecting the structural integrity of the structure.