Home Buying in 90278>Question Details

Jon, Home Buyer in 90278

I found evidence of termites 2 months after pest inspection and 1 month after close of escrow. Who pays for corrective treatment?

Asked by Jon, 90278 Wed Oct 30, 2013

I recently purchased a new construction, which carries 1 a year warranty by the builder. A little over a month before the close of escrow, the builder ordered a pest inspection. The report stated that there was no sign of pest infestation in the visible areas. But within a month of moving in, I found termite wings (i.e. swarmers) on my bathroom floor. I read on the internet that swarmers indicate amature termite colony and that since I found wings in home, the colony could be in my home. I checked the report to see if there's any kind of warranty but there doesn't appear to be any. I have requested the inspector to re-inspect the house and he's agreed. But I have feeling, he's going to says that the termite infestation occurred after the inspection. If such a situation arises, who should pay for the corrective treatment, the builder, the inspector, or me?

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That HAS to be frustrating! But several factors are at play, including that this is the traditional season for flying termites (which can come from other neighboring homes or your own) and the fact that much of the construction lumber available today (other than kiln-dried lumber which is considerably more expensive) comes equipped with its very own live termites.

Another important factor is that in California all new construction comes with a 10 year builders' warranty per the statute called SB800. That law requires you to notify the builder in writing when you discover a problem, and if the builder wishes to preserve the protections provided to him by that law, he must respond promptly by inspecting and offering a plan to correct the situation.

Since you're in the first year of ownership, and that year begins upon close of escrow (and not upon completion of the home), the onus here is really upon the builder to make things right, whether directly or through his subcontractors. Yes, it's a good idea to have the property re-inspected, but I would definitely put the builder on notice (in writing) that you are looking to him to ensure that the property is sound, free of construction defects, and not already populated by termites. Even if the law doesn't absolutely require it, top quality builders will stand behind their product. Especially in the first year!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 30, 2013
How many wings did you find? If it were a 2-10 I would guess that you found wings from a termite/s that flew into your house. By the way most will not survive to infest your house.
Also, ants are known for leaving the same kind of wings. It is hard to tell the difference unless you have actual insect.
Yes the builder is on the hook for one year to fix the problem, my experience is that dry wood termites are attracted to fresh cut wood going into new homes.
So the termites may have not been there when the home was built.
Termites 101 There are two types of termites that we typically see in the USA (though several varieties exist.):
1. Dry wood termites
2. Subterranean Termites
If there were a lot of wings
If the wings you saw were Subterranean, then they were in the dirt your house was built on. That would be my guess as dry wood termites would not have time to mature unless the builder used termite infested wood..
The earth around your house needs to be treated, and if you know how it is not too hard to do it yourself.
If you saw a lot of wings and they were dry wood termites, the house must have had some infected wood used in building. This is not likely. The best treatment for this is to find the wood and replace it. Many people would say to fumigate as well. Without seeing it, I would have a hard time telling you what to do on this.
If you saw say 2-10 wings then you have a recent infestation. Most of these die and do not take hold, look for any cracks near the wings they could have crawled into and torment them with some spray poison of almost any sort.
So your first step would be to get someone over to your house to expertly identify them they should licensed and be able to identify the termites and make sure you do not have ant wings. Tell you whether they were there when you bought the home or if it is a recent infestation.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 31, 2013
Thanks for the insights. There were two waves of wings. Each of them left about 50-100 wings. I think this is sufficient assume that the infestation is inside the house or at least in the soil. My neighbors said that they didn't notice termites in their home. I can't determine whether the wings are from dry wood or subterranean. I have a saved few to have them examine by the experts.
Flag Thu Oct 31, 2013
The first thing I would do is go to the builder with this information. It will not be good for his construction, if termites are destroying it and I woulld imagine he would be quick to solve the issue. The company who issued the report should also be contacted because most that I have worked with have a warranty on their findings.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 30, 2013
For older homes, the termite reports I get have a 2 year guarantee of their work. In the situation of a new home purchase, I would look to the builder under their warranty, especially since they ordered the pest inspection.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 30, 2013
Hi Thetonger ,

When you purchased the property a termite inspection where done. Escrow should provide you with the report and asked for your review and signature.
Typically the termite company which did the original inspection provide a 2 years warranty. So if there is any indications of termite they should take care of it.
Also it will be a good idea to hire a different termite company to do a second inspection and provide you with a report which you can use incase if the original termite company mentioned that there is no indications of termite.
Usually this report by an independent termite company will coast you between $75 to $150. Hope this info can help you and feel free to contact me for further explanation or referrals.

Hany Bekhit

Coldwell Banker
451 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Suite D220
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

Call / Text: 310 619 9712
Email. hsbekhit@gmail.com

1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 30, 2013
Contact the builder and ask. The builders I have worked with typically have good resonse to warranty issues in the first year.
The termite inspection and local treatment usually don't have a guarantee or warranty beyond that day. If they tented the home, then expect a one-year warranty, but since this was a new home, that doesn't seem likely.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 30, 2013
Most termite companies will offer some warranty of their work. However if they didn't do any work and only provided a clearance that's something different because as you correctly point out the swarming may have occurred recently. If it is a reliable local builder they may be willing to help you out as well assuming their reputation is important to them. Incidentally, this is not an uncommon situation whether it is new construction or a resale, unfortunately.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 29, 2014
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