Every time you purchase a new home, you should have a professional inspection performed to ensure that the property is free of damage. You may also want to do a detailed walk-through and inspection yourself, as it's always possible that even a professional inspector could miss a glaring problem. One thing you want to pay especially close attention to is the threat of termites.
Here's what you should do while carrying out a do-it-yourself termite inspection:
- Get a flashlight, pocketknife and screwdriver ready and wear some old clothes as you might need to crawl into some tight or dirty spaces.
- During the inspection, remember to keep an eye out for shed wings or swarmers, as these are the telltale signs of termites.
- Subterranean termites tend to be found close to the ground floor level, but in areas that are warm and damp, termites may live higher on the second floor and above.
- Probe wood areas with our screwdriver by poking the wood and checking for soft spots. Pay especially close attention to places where wood construction comes close to the soil, and check both interior and exterior areas near the foundation of the building.
- If the home has a basement, start there. Use your flashlight in dark areas and look for mud tubes, which the termites use to crawl from one zone to the next. Also check for swarmers.
- Check the following: wooden construction in the basement; crawl spaces; sills; joists; support posts; subfloors; support piers; wood beneath porches; window frames; and areas where concrete bases join wooden parts of the home.
- Look in cracks in the foundation and check any expansion joints.
- Also, check any wood and tree stumps you find surrounding the home.
If you perform a thorough investigation like this and you don't find any termites, you're in the clear. If you do find the evidence of termites, contact a pest control specialist and also contact the home seller. It may be necessary to renegotiate your purchase contract.