Does your insurance cover termite damage? It's worth checking before you read the rest of this article. Most house insurance does not cover termite damage. Hence why I ask, of course.
Now consider this:
That in a nutshell is why you need a termite inspection. Now let's move on and discuss how it works and what you need to do to ensure you get a comprehensive inspection. (Spoiler alert: it's very common for pest inspectors to miss obvious signs of termites.)
We got much of the information for this article by talking to termite inspector, Richard Eedy from Gold Coast Pest Inspector. He's a great bloke to talk about for this information because he's been in the industry for decades. His mate, building inspector Mark Woods, once said of him, "Mate, you are a termite," because of his ability to think like a termite and find them regardless of where they were hiding.
Something that alarmed us in what Richard said was how often he attends properties that have been passed as termite free by other inspectors. He had many stories about this. Many. By this I mean, a week doesn't go by when this doesn't happen.
So let's look into what you can do to make sure you get a quality termite inspection.
Your sales agent is a good person. They've helped you find the house you wanted. They've guided you through the many obstacles toward attaining the house. And now they've recommended a pest inspector. Except of course, they have a vested interest in selling the house. Agents don't recommend people like Richard Eedy because he finds things they'd rather not have found. They recommend a pest inspector who won't try too hard to find termites.
Richard gave us so many examples of this. We can't even remember half of them, just some of the worst ones. I remember him saying he popped his head into the roof cavity and not one metre away was a termite runner. This means the previous inspector didn't even bother to look into the roof cavity.
One other tragic case was a home purchased not two months previous. The home owners found signs of termites themselves. When they asked Richard for an inspection he found damages that amounted to $70,000. That is the kind of expense you don't want in a new home.
I think you understand the moral of the story here. Get an expert and independent inspection of your home. Ask around for friends or family members who have someone they trust. Or try a local community page on Facebook for recommendations. Find a pest inspector who is an expert.
If you're buying a home you're probably going to get a combined building and pest inspection. Builders can qualify to become pest inspectors by doing a short course, due to their experience in building. Given how much is at stake (possibly tens of thousands of dollars worth of termite damage) you really want to look for a team, where each member is a specialist. Get one inspector who is a building inspector and another who is a termite inspector. That combination gives you the best expertise. And the most thorough and comprehensive inspection.
There's a lot of hard work involved in doing inspections. Not everyone is prepared to crawl under homes and through ceiling spaces that are 50 degrees celsius in the middle of summer. Not for the $100 you're paying because you went for the cheapest quote. You see what I'm saying? You get what you pay for.
One way an inspector will make up their income is by recommending and installing termite barriers. We followed Richard during an inspection of two houses and in both cases the termite barriers were improperly installed. In one home he pointed out many faults that would have required a lot of work to remedy. For instance, pulling up a bunch of paving stones to properly install the chemical barrier. In another, they had put one chemical station next to a support beam. Richard told us that, with the system, they should have put a station next to every beam. In both cases the homeowners had paid thousands for ineffective termite barriers. Improperly installed chemical barriers are just pouring harmful chemicals needlessly into the ground.
They're not protecting your home.
To summarize everything we've said here, what you want is a pest inspector who is experienced, is independent and is professional. The first two are self-explanatory. When we say professional, we mean someone who does the hard things, like inspecting a roof cavity. And someone who does the right things, like only recommending termite barriers when needed, and who installs them properly.
When you next need an inspection, ask around and get the right person. There's a lot at stake.