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In addition to a home inspection at the buyer’s option, the seller provides a termite inspection if requested. This inspection actually looks for all wood destroying pests though it’s usually referred to as a termite inspection.

The Report

The inspector’s findings are delivered in a report normally paid for by the seller. This report notes all the damage found and includes a diagram showing where the damage is (if any). It breaks things down into two sections. Inaccessible areas are noted.

Section I

Section I is all about existing damage. Where is the damage, what steps are to be taken and a cost estimate is included. With a good offer, it is expected that the seller pays for the work. Who pays is a negotiable point so it is important to clarify this in writing. Most lenders require termite clearance as part of their lending criteria.

Section II

Section II is all about preventative work. This section notes what can be done to avoid future infestations. The work is optional and at the buyer’s expense.

Once the work is done, the inspector issues a clearance as the home is termite free at that point in time. In some cases, the report also notes a period of time for the warranty. As long as the home is declared termite free, the loan requirements are met.

Termite infestations are not be taken lightly as they weaken the structure. Over many years, termites make the wood so weak that it collapses under pressure (for example if you walk on the area affected). Remediation depends on the extent and location of the damage. For some cases, simply treating the affected area with a substance to make the wood denser is enough. In other cases, the affected wood will need to be replaced. Either way, the infestation needs to be addressed either by a local chemical treatment or by tenting the home in extensive cases.

All of these factors contribute to the final cost. A seller may balk at paying the entire cost if the treatment is extensive and therefore expensive. Be prepared to pay for part of the cost or to look for another home if you can’t agree on who will pay for how much of the work.