Have you been told that you might have a termite problem or termite damage in your home or garage? We can help you understand where termites come from and what you should look for when you take next steps.
Where Termites Come From
There actually aren’t a lot of termites in our area of Washington. The two kinds we might see are subterranean (they nest in soil and migrate upward to feed on wooden structures) and wet wood (attracted to moist or rotting wood, just like the name suggests).
Just because you have wood doesn’t mean you must have termites. Termites get into the area by digging underground and “finding” food or wood that’s wet in the soil and or touching the soil–they don’t usually assume there’s wood a foot away and start climbing until they find something. Wet wood lying on the ground, posts touching the ground, or dead stumps, roots, or bushes that grow under a foundation can eventually direct termites under or outside a structure.
Getting Rid of Termites & Termite Damage
You can use granules or spray from a big box store to get rid of termites. You can also get the dirt moved away from any exposed wood on your own and seal off any areas where moisture is coming in.
If you want to hire a pest company, be prepared to spend around $100-200 for them to inspect and assess during a service call. If they treat for the termites right then, it will be another $300-500. The key is finding a trusted service company that gives you advice as if you were family to them and charges a fair price without a bunch of up selling or scare tactics. Run all your bids by trusted family members, your real estate agents and or home inspectors, and even better call and ask them for a referral before even going to source a company on your own. And ALWAYS run the bid back by them to see if it makes sense to them as well before you commit to ANYTHING.
You’re looking at some extra cost if you have any damage to your structure (framing, decking, siding, etc.) or if you need to clean out a crawlspace and lay a new vapor barrier. The cleanup and new vapor barrier in the average crawlspace can run from $1000-1500 with a company, and you could do this on your own if you were so inclined. Any other repairs can range from minimal handyman stuff that costs a few hundred bucks, to more extensive projects that cost thousands and might require permits or a structural engineer.
Don’t get overwhelmed by the next steps if you have termite damage: your real estate agent and your home inspector will usually know a handyman or general contractor that they trust. Start there.
What to Look For
Any company, contractor, or handyman that you do business with should be fairly priced, honest, and treat you with respect. If you need someone to take a closer look at potential termites or termite damage, you’ll be in good hands with someone who talks to you like a human being, without a lot of tech speak, and who makes it obvious that they genuinely want to help you.
We’ve seen pest companies come out and scare a homeowner with horror stories of progressing termite damage when in reality, there were no termites present and the structure may have had some termite damage in the past that had since been taken care of and just not cleaned up yet. If you are working with a company for any kind of pest damage, take a look at what you’re being charged to start. If it seems high to you, you may be right and someone is just trying to sell you on their services with a big pitch, pictures and a comprehensive report. The best way to verify is to run what you were told by that trusted family person, your agent or home inspector. And don’t take this as a negative perspective on all trades out there. There are good ones that are honest and work hard and earn their money. I have no problem paying fair money for work performed and even tipping them for taking good care of your home, kids, pets and just being a good honest service persons.
Always take the price of a service like this and remember: The chemicals for treating termites are not super expensive. The average worker applying the treatment makes $25-40/hour, maybe even a little more these days. You can expect the company to add on a normal 40-50% profit margin to run their business and make fair money. ($100 chemicals + $300 labor + $400 profit = $800 total with a profit built in).
More often than not, if the price is too high, there’s probably a reason–they might be trying to sell you on things you don’t actually need or charge you way more then is fair because they’ve scared you with what they’re telling you and you’re willing to just make the problem go away. What you actually need will depend on the scope of your termite infestation (if there even is one) and the work needed to repair any damage, so just remember to stay logical and objective. Don’t get sold on extensive programs. Pay only for what you need. You can always follow back up in three to six months as you observe how things are holding up.