Red flags in termite report

Know which items must be repaired before selling

By Inman News Feed
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jul. 20, 2011

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An experienced inspector develops a sixth sense for problem areas. Kevin once represented the seller of a house in San Leandro, Calif. It was immaculate. The seller was proud of repairing the cripple walls and mudsills visible in the basement.

The work was new and well done. But the house had a flat roof with parapet walls. The inspector knew from experience these homes had problems in the walls because the roof was prone to leak. Sure enough, two of the four parapet walls were riddled with dry rot.

The homeowner often can do some of the work but should talk to the inspector first to verify what he or she will clear.

For example, to repair the rafter tails mentioned above the bid was to chisel away the damaged wood, fill with plastic wood filler (Bondo works great), then prime and paint. Anyone reasonably handy can do this.

Some of the work can be hired out, but don't use a handyman -- too much liability. While it's true that normally any work valued at less than $500 does not require a contractor license, California's Business and Professional Code prohibits unlicensed people from working on a house to be sold.

Use a licensed, bonded and insured contractor, and ask him or her to coordinate with the termite inspector to make sure the scope of the work is understood.

There will be a reinspection fee by the termite company if others do the work. In the case of the Hayward report discussed above, the reinspection fee is $150.

It's reasonable in this instance for the company to waive the reinspection fee if the homeowner does part of the work under the inspector's guidance and the termite company does the rest.

The bottom line: Be an informed consumer. Ask questions and press to understand the process.

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