What if Your Dream Home has a Termite History: Should You Go Ahead with the Purchase?
When you are buying a home, pre-purchase building and timber pest inspections are a must. Often buyers will skip the pest inspection – and this can be a big and costly mistake.
CSIRO estimates that 1 in 5 Australian homes will be attacked by termites. With termites capable of causing significant damage without being detected, when they are spotted the damage can be extensive. In the worse cases, they can completely destroy a home.
The last thing you want, having bought your dream home, is be unaware that termites are eating away at your investment.
So when you are looking to buy a home, it’s important to know the termite status and history for the property:
- Are there any active termites in the house or on the property?
- Has there been any damage in the past?
- Is there an up-to-date treatment on the property?
- Are there any conditions that may make the home more likely to suffer a termite attack?
To get this detailed information you need a thorough inspection carried out by a termite specialist.
What will a pre-purchase pest inspection tell you?
A pre-purchase pest inspection is a little more involved than a normal termite inspection as it also looks for other timber pests, such as borers, and signs of wood decay. However, termites are the main pest of concern.
Whether your dream home is a weatherboard, brick or even a metal framed home, termites can find their way in and attack any wood elements. Yes, even metal frame homes are not safe – termites will get in and eat floorboards, door frames and architraves!
A detailed inspection will involve inspecting each room in turn, spending time in the roof void and subfloor (if one exists), checking the garage and any outbuildings, looking at fencing and trees around the building. The inspection is looking for active termites, signs of termite damage, evidence of previous treatments and any construction faults or conditions that may make the property more susceptible to a termite attack.
Such an inspection takes time and a skilled inspector may also use specialised detection equipment to scan areas they cannot physically see. The result is a comprehensive inspection of your potential purchase.
Hopefully, the home is termite free, but as we know, with 1 in 5 homes having a history of termite attack, it is quite possible that the inspection will find some evidence of current or previous termite activity.
The question is: should you buy your dream home if the inspection reveals current termite activity or past termite damage?
Should you buy a home with termite activity or termite damage?
Many people might advise you to avoid buying a property that has a history of termites, and certainly one with a current termite problem. But to dismiss the purchase might be to miss the opportunity of a lifetime. After all, it would be easy to dismiss buying your dream house for any number of reasons – it has evidence of settling, it has a history of flooding, it doesn’t have adequate heating, and so on.
Remember that evidence of current or previous termite damage could be a big bargaining chip to reduce the sale price. However, in addition to getting any reduction in price, there are steps you can take before signing a contract to reduce your risk:
- If the property has active termites ensure that the costs of treatments and repairs will be paid by the seller before the purchase goes through
- Make sure they use a reputable termite treatment company that carries out a complete treatment and provides a guarantee, which will pass on to you (as the new owner). Sellers will often employ the cheapest pest controller to do the cheapest job, telling them, “Just squirt a bit of chemical to kill the termites you can see.” Without a comprehensive treatment, the termites will come back.
- If a previous treatment has been carried out, understand whether it is still under guarantee and whether such an agreement can be transferred to you
- If the home is a new build, establish that timbers have been pre-treated and ask what type of termite protection has been included in the construction. Ensure there are termite warranties on the property.
Termites are common in Sydney, and so a history of termite attack is not uncommon, and neither are repairs. So try not to be too emotional when dealing with a ‘scary’ termite problem. If seen as a maintenance problem, termites are suddenly seen in a different light.
The bottom line is that buying a home with a history of termites does not have to lead to future problems, with the risk of seeing your investment being eaten away (literally). Knowledge is power and a comprehensive pest inspection is key. Termites can be controlled and eradicated, and a termite history could prove strong leverage when it comes to negotiating your purchase price.
Contact us for your professional building and termite inspection today.
Once you have bought your home
Termites are a fact of life in Australia, so protecting your home with regular termite inspections and installing a termite management system should really be considered a standard part of maintaining your home.
Indeed, your home is more likely to be attacked by termites than be affected by fire, flood or other natural disaster. However, termite attack is not covered by your standard home insurance, and so a small annual investment in termite inspections will help to stay termite free and maintain value in your home.