Q: I had a termite inspection done on my home. Now I must find a reputable contractor to do the work. The work to be done is extensive, and I feel it will be costly. The termites have damaged the rim joist, mudsill and subfloor in the subarea. Termite evidence was also noted in the subarea that appears to extend into inaccessible areas and should be treated.

I would appreciate any help that you can give me, as I have no idea where to start.

A: Your question brings us back to the days before the recent housing hysteria. As we’ve mentioned before, Kevin worked as a real estate broker in the past and both of us have bought and sold a number of homes over the years. Virtually all of Kevin’s transactions required a termite clearance to close. Each time we sold, the buyer and the lender required a termite report and a termite clearance in order for the loan to be made and the sale to be completed. Virtually all termite companies at that time not only did inspections and treated for pests, but contracted to repair damage and provided a "termite clearance."

A couple of years ago, in the overheated housing market, "as is" became the order of the day. But now the worm has turned, and termite clearances are once again becoming the norm.

You mention that you have a termite report. Hopefully, it was provided by a licensed and insured structural and pest control company. We suggest you start there to contract for the repairs. If the report included a proposal for work, you’ve already got one bid. If it didn’t include a proposal, ask the company to give you one.

Next, we suggest you take that report and call two or three other companies and ask them to bid the job.

You should be aware of a couple of things. First, it’s reasonable that the companies you ask to bid will want to do an inspection report. Ask the company that does the work to credit back the cost of the inspection as part of the contract for the job.

The second thing to beware of is the potential damage in inaccessible areas. We’ve done a good deal of termite work in our time and we strongly suspect that the inaccessible areas you mention are the wall framing resting above the subfloor. Usually a termite report will call for further inspection. It’s optional because it involves defacing the property by drilling small access holes in the exterior walls to probe the framing. Once the inspection is completed the holes are repaired.

Allow the inspection to take place. The only way to get a handle on the scope of the job is to allow for that inspection. Using this method, an experienced termite person can determine the level of damage.

Once a thorough inspection has been completed, you should be able to receive a firm bid. Hopefully, it won’t be too dear.


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