/What to do when your dream home has termites

What to do when your dream home has termites

Termites

Termites have been around since the time of the dinosaurs, but should their presence put you off buying your dream home?

‘Termites’ is only one little word, but hearing it strikes fear into a homeowner’s heart.

Sydney is in the second highest risk category for subterranean termite attack in Australia, after the tropical far north, according to the CSIRO.

And summer is their favourite time of year.

MORE: Region where home prices will fall fastest

Iconic Sinatra mansion hits the market

Housing slump poses danger to economy

term Soldier subterranean termites on wood

Subterranean termites are known as ‘silent destroyers’.

Termites, also known as white ants, are winged insects that feed on dead plants and trees.

They have insatiable appetites, with termite colonies eating non-stop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and when they can’t get enough plant matter, they’ll turn their attention to paper, plastic, timber and plasterboard.

Your home’s furniture, floors and foundations are all on the menu for these pests, so you need to get rid of them before they bring the house down.

quaint little old abandoned house sitting behind broken wood fence

Left untreated, termites can completely destroy a home in 10 to 15 years.

If a pest inspection of your future home throws up a current infestation — or even a past one — there are people who will advise you to walk away.

We’ve all heard stories about termites chomping away unchecked for years until demolition is the only answer. But if you’re smitten, it’s worth a closer look.

“If the vendor has told us of a problem with termites, a real estate agent is obliged by law to pass on that information to prospective buyers,” says real estate agent Michael Xylas from MGM Properties Mascot.

“If they are unaware of it and your pest inspection shows termite activity, the first thing you need to do is call in the experts to work out the full extent of the damage.”

Richard Strahan is a pest inspector for Total Pest Management. He is pictured with termite damage at a Varsity Lakes property.

If a pest inspection reveals an infestation, it’s time to call in the specialists.

A termite specialist will use infra red scheming to see inside the wall and floor cavities to determine if the problem is an active one. If so, they will assess the damage and treat it with a termiticide.

“Once you know what’s going on, you can make a commercial decision,” says Michael. “If it’s going to cost a few thousand to put it right and you want to proceed, you can negotiate with the vendor for a suitable reduction in price to cover your costs.”

MORE: The country giving away homes for free

Check out the ultimate Sydney holiday home

“Beyond that it’s a case of ‘buyer beware’. Once you have bought a property, unless you can prove the seller has actively disguised the issue, you’ll need to get it fixed out of your own pocket.”

It’s also worth noting that home insurance almost never covers termites.