Inspecting Buildings for Termites is a Good, Sensible Thing To Do.
Annual Inspections are Mandatory if a Warrantee is Involved.
Here are some reasons for inspecting for termites, who schedules the termite inspection, what does it cost, who pays and where do termite inspectors look?
Four Common Reasons to Make a Termite Inspection of a Building
- If termite activity is discovered, contractors make an inspection to determine the extent and cost of termite damage before preparing a quotation for the owner of the building.
- If the owner agrees to the quotation and the work is completed, there is usually a warranty for a number of years provided a termite inspection is made by the contracting company at agreed intervals, usually annually but maybe six-monthly in some challenging circumstances. If the owner decides against or denies an inspection, all warrantees are off.
- If a building is for sale, the intending buyer can insert a clause in the contract to say that the sale is subject to an inspection for termites and other wood-destroying organisms (borers, fungal decay, etc.). Sometimes the lending body may require a building inspection before they agree to finance any loan. They don’t want the buyer to have unsuspected costs for treatment and repairs which could jeopardise the buyer’s ability to make agreed mortgage payments.
- Once an owner recognises that subterranean termites are prevalent over most of mainland Australia and might infiltrate from an unknown, nearby nest, that owner is being prudent if an annual termite inspection is made. The owner, in fact, may opt to do the inspection rather than use a contractor.
What Does a Termite Inspection Cost?
Who Pays for a Termite Inspection?
Once upon a time, quotes were free but in these days of easy litigation and increased labour and operating costs, the initial inspection is charged for at a declared fee… which is refunded (or absorbed into the payment of the treatment) if the owner accepts and proceeds with the proposed treatment. In those once-upon-a-time days, the owners might obtain two or three quotes and choose the company most acceptable to them based on price, work to be done, warrantee, etc.
These days when the initial inspection fee is around $200-$400 (depending on the building and the policy of the contracting company) the owner is more likely to obtain only one quote. This increases the onus on the owner to choose carefully. Reputation and recommendation become important.
Payment of the inspection fee is always borne by the owner of the building (or the prospective buyer).
It is usually hidden/included in the annual maintenance fees charged by the pest management company. For instance, if the annual fee is say $1200, this will include maybe quarterly or two-monthly visits to check for termite activity in the monitors set around the buildings and the annual termite inspection of the buildings.
It may or may not include treatment (killing the termites) of any monitor that intercepted scouting subterranean termites (it usually does).
Read the fine print.
By the way, Termite monitors are readily available and designed specifically for homeowner use.
What Do Termite Inspectors Look For?
How is a Termite Inspection Done?
There is a range of equipment used by professionals but they still heavily rely on visual irregularities and listening for a hollow sound from timbers tapped.
Moisture meters only indicate higher than usual moisture which then requires a closer inspection for termite activity. Thermal imaging cameras… same story. Termatrac equipment is expensive but has 3-in-one technology: radar, temperature and moisture, however, human skills are still needed.
There is another angle to consider.
The fine print of the quotation exempts inaccessible timbers. This means the studs, noggins and top-bottom plates of walls covered by plasterboard, roofing timbers covered by sarking and insulation… and any flooring timbers unable to be accessed if the clearance is insufficient.
That’s definitely the biggest proportion of most buildings. So, what can a professional inspector look at that a homeowner can’t? Nothing!
What Do You Look for During a Termite Inspection?
What are the Signs of Termites?
An irregular timber surface indicating it is almost paper-thin because termites have eaten it out, termite mud in the joins where timbers butt against each other and mud tunnels where termites have tracked up foundation walls from the ground to the timbers above or, across timbers up in the structure.
And hollow sounds from timbers including mouldings, window and door frames, panelling, etc., when these timbers are tapped.
Can You Do a Termite Inspection Yourself?
The answer is a definite Yes. You can also treat termites yourself too.
You may not be confident and you may think that the risk of missing something is too great, however, if you have a good torch, a tapper such as a long-handled screwdriver or you make one from a piece of curtain rod with a plastic knob or finial on the end, you won’t need to crawl or bend as much and, if you are reasonably agile… you will be able to reach and sight/soundcheck all the timbers that the professional can.
Or get a family member or friend to do it for you for a baked dinner or a few drinks… or both.
Then again, you can hire a professional for a couple of hundred dollars if you bargain a bit.
Questions & Answers
Are Termites Warm-Blooded?
Termites are cold-blooded, meaning they cannot generate their own body heat. They need a nest to regulate the correct conditions for survival.
Are Termites Related to Ants?
They may look like close cousins but they are not related. Ants are related to bees and wasps whereas termites are closer to cockroaches.
Do Termites Lay Eggs?
Yes, in fact from a termite egg hatches a baby termite. A miniature termite that has to shed its outer skin (moult) to grow.