I am under contract on a house in AZ. There is obvious termite damage. The termite inspector found half a dozen spots (in rooms that hadn't been painted recently) near ceiling and top of walls where tubes where showing thru drywall. And, there's this in about 5 spots in the attic, mostly on top 1/3rd of horizontal 2x6s (that I could find easily):

enter image description here

...and this sporadically around fascia board. It looks like some fascia board was replaced and some wasn't. All of it was freshly painted and caulked. But, much (about half), you could easily break with your hands due to termites.

enter image description here

and caulked over...

enter image description here

My dilemma is obvious. My issue though, is that no one I hire seems willing to say anything other than: "This house had termites recently." --- well, you don't say?! Thanks for that!

How does one determine / asses the actual damage on a house that's had termites? Should I get another company that does the infrared imaging? Let's say I want to sell this house in 3 years. I'm confident I can repair visible damage, like fascia boards and I know the approximate cost. I want to know is there stud damage? Is the attic considered unstable at this point? How much of an issue is this and how often will it be an issue on future resale? Is it going to be like selling a meth home?

2 Answers 2


I think I have mentioned it on the site before but I used to specialize in buying termite houses. In Arizona they are quite common, in the Midwest not so much.

I disagree with Keshlam in saying it is too much trouble, and walk away. I think the sensible thing to do is figure out what you want out of the house and what it will cost to fix it.

If you want to buy a house an just move in and live there and touch it very little then you shouldn't buy a house with termite damage. In actuality your house choices are going to be extremely limited.

If you would like to update a house and make small living changes, this could be the perfect house for you. In the flipping business we know it is much more cost effective to gut something then work around everything.

How do you assess termite damage. You do it yourself. That is fine that you had someone help. I would go around the house with a fine tooth comb and document any kind of wood damage, any kind of paint damage, any sagging or structural issues. Everything should be attributed to termites.

So the main assessment is centered around if the termite damage is on the outside of the house - most houses are like this or is it pervasive through the whole house. You really need to spend a good deal of time in the attic (trusses, floor beams, and plywood sheathing under roofing) and in the basement looking at the structure. Framing and cosmetic things on the outside of the house can be fixed easily.

The next step is to get a quote from someone that can come in and fix everything on the outside, drywall and simple framing. Double that quote and take that off the price of the house. Remember that home owner has to now disclose this damage to all new people who look at the house. Mention this to them and use it as a negotiation technique.

Really if you aren't looking to make money off the house you need to figure out if you want to manage the fixing of all this stuff to make it look exactly how you want or do you want something that is more move in ready. There is NOTHING wrong with buying a house with heavy termite damage, you just need to set your expectation and it would probably be cheaper and faster if you didn't live in the house while the inside stuff was getting done.

Note: I mention to double your quote because I have found from experience that most termite quotes end up on average at 1.5 times original quote. Double it because you are managing it and might not be living in house for 1-3 months depending on damage. Also I should point out, be fully aware of any asbestos potential (think flooring, popcorn ceiling and ductwork). This is an important caveat because when you start opening stuff to fix termite damage this is really the only thing that can prove to be costly real quick.

  • I actually don't disagree with this answer. Not what I would do (though I freely admit I don't know the local housing stock and conditions) but not unreasonable. If termites are quite that common, though, I have to wonder whether someone who didn't spray for them skimped on other maintenance...
    – keshlam
    Jul 26, 2016 at 22:51
  • @keshlam - That's why I mention - just blame everything on termites. It's faster and gives you wiggle room on future things that need to get done. I have made a LOT of money on termite houses. My best flip was a super heavy termite house and termites hit the floor beams. Bought for 60k, spent 110k, sold for 380k. And best thing is, I did very little myself! That's the great thing about houses needing this much work, your subs take over because you give them a large contract.
    – DMoore
    Jul 26, 2016 at 22:58
  • If you can get it cheap enough to justify the cost and hassle, by all means go for it. Not my cup of chai unless I was specifically looking for a fix-and-resell.
    – keshlam
    Jul 26, 2016 at 23:05
  • I'm a small time property investor (own 5). This will be a cashflow, vaca/2nd home when we're done. But, always want to be able to sell easily. I've bought houses with some nasty issues and made money. I've also bought some and lost big time! I'm just not used to termites or how to deal with it and don't want to have another regret later. Spent lots of time over there since this question and took your advice (do it yourself). Pretty confident now we're aware of the extent. I've got subs lined up for the work, and the seller seems willing to work it out to the point I feel comfortable with it.
    – maplemale
    Aug 1, 2016 at 20:32

If you want detailed evaluation and estimate, get a contactor in and (probably) pay for that analysis. In this situation you want them to tell you what the worst case is likely to be, so you can decide if you are still interested and for use as a negotiation tool if you are. ("It's going to cost at least $XXXX to fix this, possibly $XXXXX. Unless you knock that much off the price, the deal is off.")

Personally, this sounds like more trouble than I would invest further in, and I'd cite the termite report and walk away now, unless the price more than makes up for this.

Be careful what you commit yourself to. I'm reminded of a neighbor's house which they bought as a fixer-upper, only to discover that it was off the foundation and had a cracked main beam. Nobody was willing to touch either for fear that the other would let go. In the end their least expensive option was to demolish and build from scratch.

  • Good advice... I'm being told by my realtor that in AZ, every house will have termites at one point. I've looked at about a dozen houses here... and true enough, the signs of treatments are obvious on most houses. I see the marks in the sidewalks / foundations where it's been drilled and treated. Ok, I get that. But, signs of treatment are one thing, actual damage is another isn't it?
    – maplemale
    Jul 26, 2016 at 4:07
  • Unrepaired damage -- or badly repaired damage -- is something that needs to be figured into what the place is worth to you. And that means getting a quote on fixing it properly. Or walking away if you believe you will find something better.
    – keshlam
    Jul 26, 2016 at 4:13
  • I'm figuring worst case scenario: Replace fascia board. Sister 2 trusses. Replace the interior non-load bearing wall underneath effected trusses (maybe, if it needs it, have to remove drywall to know). I talked the seller down 20% more than what I'd need to cover that work, assuming that's all I have to do. That's just based on damage I can see. I guess my bigger concern is: What I can't see? And, even if I do all that, am I going to have a hard time selling it when an inspector finds a sistered truss?
    – maplemale
    Jul 26, 2016 at 18:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.