A Chicago home inspector’s termite horror story

I managed to reach this point in the year without thinking about termites. And then this morning’s e-mail brought the July issue of Tomacor‘s newsletter, with the following story:

During an inspection, I noted a locked door in the basement of a home I was inspecting. After getting the key and moving the refrigerator, the buyer and I opened the door only to discover that the room was full of termite tunnels with major structural damage. The structural wood beam of the house had been eaten. That deal went south and the seller was notified about the termites. Six months later, I found myself on a familiar street and recognized the building. I ran inside with the buyer behind me and immediately went to the basement mechanical room, but this time I had to get a key to unlock the door (I caught the seller’s agent leaving the inspection), move a refrigerator and several electrical appliances, and move an old gun rack which blocked the door. It took two of us to get all the junk out of the way.

Ten minutes later, we were in the room, the walls were covered with fresh drywall and paint. With the agent out of the room, and not able to see the small amount of damage I inflicted on the new wood trim, I stuck my screwdriver inside the door jam and pulled the trim away from it. With the assistance of my 100 watt flashlight, I found thousands of little white insects crawling over each other. The seller had earlier failed to sell the “termite house” and was now covering up the problems that were disclosed. The buyer and I left the house. The deal was dead; again. Another lucky buyer bought it.

In the above videos, part of a series, Tom Corbett shows you how to spot signs of termite and carpenter ant infestation on the exterior of homes and illustrates the damage that “wood-destroying organisms” wreak in the Chicago area. The newsletter item illustrates the damage that dishonesty occasionally inflicts on home buyers.