Found termites during home inspection. What do we do now?

Asked by halobear9900, Queens, NY Tue May 8, 2012

The engineer found termites in the basement/cellar. He did not check the structural beams as they were covered by the ceiling. The sellers are supposed to get the termites taken care of but how can we check to make sure there is no structural damage to the house?


Jennifer Fiv…, Agent, Red Hook, NY
Mon May 21, 2012
A pest company can treat the infestation and will check for damages. These companies do have equipment to aid then in checking behind concealed space.

This is a fixable issue with the right professional help.
2 votes
First Last, , 90002
Wed May 9, 2012
In the 1990's we bought a house with a cracked, sloping foundation on one wall. When it came time to sell, we hired a licensed structural engineer (P.E. after the name, stands for Professional Engineer) to assess the integrity of the structure and to suggest where and how to add additional beam support in the basement to the structure. We did all that, and sold the house.

So my advice would be to hire a structural engineer to assess the structure and recommend any modifications required to preserve its integrity. If parts of the ceiling or walls must come down for evaluation, so be it.

From a negotiating standpoint you (or hopefully your agent) can explain to the sellers that this puppy isn't selling to anybody else, either, unless this serious problem is thoroughly evaluated. Who pays for this now is a matter of what you are able to negotiate.

If the sellers won't cooperate with this, I would walk. They knew they had termites (the signs are quite obvious) and they should have taken care of this before putting the house on the market.

Years ago I wrote an article for Mother Earth News about termites. I've added the link here. They are amazing creatures but not something you want attacking your house!

Karla Harby
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson
Rutenberg Realty
2 votes
Having been in the Pest Control business for over 40 years, I have to totally disagree with you. In many, many cases Termites are NOT obvious.
Flag Thu May 25, 2017
Actually it's not true that damage is obvious. They eat inside the wood, outside look intact !!! Surprise you don't know that if you're such a termite specialist !!
Flag Thu May 25, 2017
We are the sellers of a house and the buyer's inspector just discovered termites. We had no idea! Thus, your accusation that buyer's know if they have termites is erroneous and damaging. You should be admonished and I'm not sure you should have a real estate license!
Flag Fri Dec 4, 2015
Jacques Ambr…, Agent, Forest Hills, NY
Wed May 9, 2012
Unless you can visually inspect the beams it will be hard to be 100% sure. Perhaps the termite company can tell you if the termites have been there long term, but again you still need to see the beams. Your engineer should be able to help
1 vote
Anna M Brocco, Agent, Williston Park, NY
Wed May 9, 2012
What is your agent advising--If you proceed with the purchase discuss the issue with your attorney; you can ask to be allowed in with an engineer to reinspect the property after treatment/repairs. Keep in mind that termites do exist, and not an unusual situation.
1 vote
Nora Moore, Home Buyer, American Fork, UT
Tue Mar 31, 2015
Finding termites in a home you want to buy is intimidating. I'd make sure that I had professionals assess the structural integrity of the support beams. Only after I had that assessment, maybe from more than one company, would I feel comfortable buying the house. Then again, I am very paranoid about that kind of thing.
0 votes
Dom Pascual, , New York County, NY
Tue May 22, 2012
Destroy them. Make sure the home inspectors does a good job not some half0assed one. That is why he is getting paid. Identify all areas where the terminates are found. Then get is treated and fixed asap. You gotta spend money to make money.

Thank you!

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0 votes
Abu Musa, Agent, New York, NY
Mon May 21, 2012
Last year I had this kind of situation then seller and buyer came up came up a compromise which was home inspector can open the ceiling because termites need to be treated.
0 votes
Allan Erps, Agent, Pearl River, NY
Tue May 15, 2012
Generally termites are in the sill plate of a home before attacking any beams. A full treatment should render the termites harmless and also a remediation system(bait traps) is probably best.
0 votes
Gabrielle Ma…, Agent, Marietta, GA
Tue May 15, 2012
Many pest control companies can look into the walls with a scope. A small hole is drilled in the wall and they put the camera in behind the wall to view the beams and structure. See if this can be done in your area, and ask the seller to pay for it, especially if you're within your due diligence period.
0 votes
Cathy Barton, Agent, Fairport, NY
Thu May 10, 2012
Good the termites will be gone. Now it is up to you to get a structural engineer to see if there has been serious damage. Get your agent to recommend a PE and have piece of mind.
0 votes
Angela Nelson, Agent, Tarrytown, NY
Wed May 9, 2012
I would go to the buyer and put a clause that they need to pay for termite removal and reinspection prior to closing.
0 votes
I was going to suggest the same thing. It wouldn't set things behind to have another inspection, and it would give you some peace of mind. It's not worth possibly compromising the structure by not checking. Termites are small, but they can do a lot of damage. |
Flag Wed Jan 28, 2015
Irina Karan, Agent, Pompano Beach, FL
Wed May 9, 2012
You can, with homeowners/sellers agreement, take off the ceiling in the area of concern, and the structural engineer can knock on structural elements (to see if there are uneven sounds/cavities), or even poke them with sharp objects (this won't make things worse, unless there is a true structural damaged caused by termites).

However, you, as buyer, will be responsible to make things look the same way they were before this type of more "involved" inspection (can't deface the property).
This part also should be in your contract. You can have a separate agreement prepared by your attorney spelling out how this will be done, to make things easier for both parties.

The seller should be cooperating, because this issue will need to be disclosed to another buyer anyway.

Hope this helps,

Irina Karan
Beachfront Realty, Inc.
0 votes
Yuriy Goldst…, , New York
Wed May 9, 2012
Probably I will repeat the previous answers but from the inspector's point of view:

1. Get a structure engineer to look at the house structure. If seller didn't know about termites nobody knows how many years termites were dining there.
2. Seller must remedy the situation and get a treatment from the exterminating company. Also many of these companies will give a warranty for their treatment.
3. If seller refused to do that walk away.

Yuriy Goldstein,

NYS LIcensed Home Inspector, NYS Certified Pesticide Technician
All Right Home Inspection
0 votes
I was told by my agent that the exterminating company will cut a patch and check the beams for structural damage. Is this true?
Flag Thu May 10, 2012
Janet Nation,…, Agent, Woodbury, NY
Wed May 9, 2012
If you want to know if there's structural damage, you have to hire an structural engineer and they are not cheap and maybe not even necessary. As mentioned below termite damage is nothing out the norm, the infestation is easy to treat by the seller and when you own a home you should check for termite activity regularly and/or learn steps to minimize your risks to exposure.
0 votes
Gail Gladsto…, Agent, Huntington, NY
Wed May 9, 2012
It is obvious (and a good thing) that Sellers had no knowledge of the problem.

The problem is very common. Most homes have or had termite invasion and rarely have we seen extreme issues as a result.

It is the seller's obligation to remedy the situation.

It takes slot of termites a very long time to do significant structural damage and you can bring in an engineer to inspect if it will help you feel better about the property.

Don't jump to conclusions or panic. Any Realtor who is active in the business would be able to tell you it's not as scary as it is being made to sound.
0 votes

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