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Termite Damage

WE recently made an offer on a house in Montclair that was accepted. Its a beautiful house with great updates throughout. The problem is that the house had extensive termite damage which was discovered when it was first listed 2 months ago. The sellers had to take the house off the market then and they spend $ 40,000 on repairs because the damage was so extensive! The repaired or replaced suport beams, floor joists, floors etc
During our home inspection we found out that the house still has damage in the walls (exterior wall i believe) which essentially cannot be repaired because it would be a MAJOR renovation that would essentially destroy the home.
We are now hesitant to move forward with this home because we don't know if we'll be able to sell it again. Structurally the house is safe and all the repairs fixed most problems. How do we go about this? Do we ask the sellers to drop the price or do we drop this and move on?
  • December 17 2013 - Montclair
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Answers (5)

Have a structural engineer check everything for your own safety.

  • December 18 2013
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If there was damage found, then a structural inspection report will be required for a mortgage and the accompanying structural repairs certified complete.  As to replacing interior wall studs and structure, it can certainly be done if someone is willing to spend the money.  Regardless of who pays the bill, it will need to be done.  The total price of the home is the market price minus the repair minus aggravation and time value.

If you can't get a price you can live with, move on to another home.
  • December 17 2013
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Profile picture for Blue in d Nile
Any damaged wood that isn't replaced will continue to be eaten.  Sure, it can be "treated" with "tenting", or "injection", or freezing..., but then the termites will come right back and continue eating.

Of course the termites leave enough structure to prevent it from collapsing, but not if there is a change of loading, such as a windstorm...

Sure, you could have the termite company come back every year to treat it again...

But if the damage isn't repaired/replaced now, you will likely need to repair or replace it later, and it isn't going to get any cheaper.  So, if it is too expensive now and will "destroy the house", how is doing it later going to be any better?

Are we talking about all the studs in one wall?  How was it evaluated?  Pin hole inspection cameras?  Infrared cameras?  Or is it only someone's guess?  Is there earth to wood contact at the foundation?  Is there a water collection problem at the base of that wall and dry rot?  Is the sill plate eaten?  Are the cripple wall studs damaged?  What kind of exterior finish on the wall?  Is the interior drywall or lath and plaster?

If the termite company couldn't give a cost estimate to do the work, how could we do so remotely without even seeing it?

People always tell me that if I have to ask the price, I can't afford it.
Of course it "can be fixed", but is it worth the cost?  Many times it is more economical to buy something else.

I highly doubt they ate the entire studs; it is possible to remove a portion of the exterior siding or finish and cut out the damage and spice in new.  And it is also possible to do the work from the inside in a similar matter by cutting the drywall or lathe and plaster up to a reasonable height to do the repair.  In either case, when the walls are closed and touched up, it is unlikely anyone would notice that the walls were opened.  But you do need a good idea of how much you are cutting and how extensive the damage is and what materials you are having to replace.

$40k for the work done sounds extensive.  You probably could have had the entire house picked up and put on a new foundation for that.

Is the list price lower than previously now that they are implying that there is an additional $100k work to be done that they were told about and needs to be on any disclosure form?

I think the sellers were ripped off, and that someone is trying to rip you off too.
  • December 17 2013
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83% of homes in New Jersey have experienced some sort of termite activity. I'm sorry to hear that the home you're purchasing is included in that 83%. Speak to your attorney and your Realtor regarding this issue. Since you are already represented by a Realtor it would be unprofessional for me to advise or provide an opinion. I do wish you luck and wish I could be more helpful.
  • December 17 2013
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Well - it will absolutely come up when you decide to sell.  Smart thinking ahead.  Termite damage can be fixed.  A contract with a pest control company is recommended so that you can call them at the sign of anything that looks like it might be termite related.

It sounds like the areas that were accessible were repaired.   If the exterior wall damage can not be accessed it could potentially be a problem in the future.  You said that the repairs fixed most of the problems - why not all?  Was it this access issue or something else.

I'm feeling that there are probably other possibilities in town for you.  You could certainly ask for a price reduction but the issue would remain.  Your agent can help you move forward.  If you had a contingency for home inspection & it sounds like you did - this is your way out of the contract.  

Good luck!  Great town - I grew up on Inwood Ave.
  • December 17 2013
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