Friday, April 24, 2015
At Home Living: What every homeowner should know about termites
By Shanna Sloyer
Special to The Capital-Journal
Thomas V. Myers/Brandpoint
These termites are exactly what you don't want to see anywhere around your home.
Spring’s real estate buying season is revving up as potential homebuyers begin the search for the perfect home. Unfortunately, some of nature’s most troublesome pests are also searching for a place to call home this time of year. As the weather warms up, winged termites emerge, with swarms colonizing in every state except for Alaska.
According to Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), termites cause approximately $5 billion in property damage each year. Termite damage isn’t typically covered by homeowners insurance, and more than half of Americans have never had their homes inspected for termites, according to an NPMA survey.
If you’ll be buying or selling a home this spring or have never had a termite inspection, consider the following termite information from the NPMA:
¦ Leave it to the professionals
The average homebuyer or homeowner isn’t trained to recognize evidence of termite infestation. Termites chew through wood, flooring and other materials behind-the-scenes, so it can take years before the signs of an infestation are visible to the untrained eye. An inspection by a licensed pest professional is the best way to detect an infestation of wood-destroying organisms (WDOs). Most lending institutions require a WDO inspection before they will approve a loan.
¦ Ask for what you want and know what you’re getting
According to Justin Hamilton, Vice President of Quality Termite and Pest Control in Topeka, a real estate contract dictates whether or not an insect inspection is ordered before the purchase of a home. Include an insect inspection by a licensed pest professional in your terms of sale.
“Usually the seller pays, but the buyer gets to pick the inspection company,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton also stresses that not all insect inspections are equal. In the state of Kansas, a termite inspector must be certified with the Kansas Board of Agriculture to inspect for WDOs. Most home inspectors are not certified to inspect for termites, so you will need an insect inspection in addition to your home inspection.
¦ Know what to expect
In Topeka, the average cost for a new home inspection is between $65-$105. Some companies back their inspections with a year’s warranty so that if termites are found within one year of the inspection date, at least a partial treatment will be rendered.
Most inspections will last about an hour while the specialist probes the home from top to bottom looking for telltale signs of termite damage. When the inspection is over, the specialist will report to the buyers what was found, and provide an estimate of how much it might cost to repair any termite damage discovered.
“My advice is to be there when the inspection happens,” said Hamilton. “Have the inspector show you what they’re doing and seeing, rather than just reading a report.”
¦ What to do if WDOs are present
Termite detection, remediation and control aren’t do-it-yourself tasks. If the inspector finds signs of termite infestation and damage, you’ll need to hire a professional to remedy the problem. Buyers who discover the infestation before the sale is final will be able to negotiate with the seller to take care of the problem. Most lending institutions will refuse to finalize a mortgage for a home with unresolved termite issues.
¦ Prevent future infestations
For homes without WDO infestations, homeowners should take steps to protect against termites going forward. Hamilton recommends having your home inspected at least once per year since Kansas is an area prone to termite infestations. To learn more about termite prevention or to find a licensed pest professional in your area, visit www.pestworld.org, the education website of the NPMA.