Question: We are about to close escrow on an older home and had a home inspector with great credentials and experience do our report. One of the items he noted was "wood pest pellets" on the framing.
According to the seller's pest report, all of the termites have been eliminated. But that report was done before the home inspection. The termite report is guaranteed for one year, but if our home inspector found pellets and recommends having them checked by a pest control company, I assume the termites are still there now.
The seller stands by the original termite report, and we don't want it to kill the deal. We're unsure what to do.
Answer: Termite pellets are typically not removed from wood surfaces when extermination services are performed.
Removal of this residue is not customary because that would entail a thorough cleaning of the attic and crawl-space areas with a vacuum cleaner. Such unusual procedures, to the best of my knowledge, have never been adopted or practiced. Therefore, when a later inspection discloses the presence of termite pellets, there is often uncertainty as to whether they indicate past or current infestation.
Home inspectors are prohibited from disclosing the presence of termites, as this requires special licensing specifically reserved for pest control operators. But most home inspectors will point out evidence of possible infestation, with recommendations for further evaluation by a pest inspector.
The specialized expertise of a pest control operator is generally needed to make a final determination as to the presence of wood-destroying organisms.
If you have a final clearance from a licensed pest control operator, then the pellets reported by the home inspector are most likely the residual byproducts of past infestation.
If you want further assurance, you can request that the termite company take a second look. If they decline to do this, or if you have remaining doubts for any reason, hire your own pest control operator for a second opinion.
Tar and Gravel Roofs Viewed as Economical
Q: We just bought a new home with a tar and gravel roof. It has been difficult to get it inspected, and we have a number of concerns. Are there any common problems with tar and gravel roofs, and is this type of roofing expensive to replace?
A: Tar and gravel roofs, also known as built-up roofs, are among the most common of all roof types. They are installed on countless homes and on the majority of commercial buildings. It is therefore surprising that you have had trouble finding someone to inspect your roof. There are many roofing contractors who install and repair built-up roofs, and most should be willing to perform an inspection, unless they are presently too busy with scheduled work.
The fact that you've not had a roof inspection also raises the question of whether you hired a home inspector before purchasing the property. A detailed roof evaluation is a standard part of every competent home inspection and applies to tar and gravel roofs, as much as any other type of roofing.
As regards common problems, tar and gravel roofs are not without their inherent drawbacks. The most frequent concern with built-up gravel roofing is the need for periodic maintenance to retain gravel coverage on all surfaces. Sun exposure to bare spots can lead to deterioration and shortened longevity of the roof membrane.
Another common problem is ponding--standing water that results from inadequate pitch of the roof. This can be due to substandard framing at the time of construction or sagging of the roof structure. Repair of this condition is usually too expensive to be justified. Ponding can also result from blocked roof drains; so it is important to keep the roof free of debris and foreign objects.
As to the cost of replacing a built-up roof, no type of roofing is inexpensive. But when compared with other roof materials, tar and gravel roofs are considered to be relatively economical.
Slipping Roof Panels Should be Evaluated
Q: The metal roofing panels on my home were made on site by the contractor. This was apparently done incorrectly, because some of the panels are slipping, and leakage is occurring at the upper seams along the hips and ridges. Are there any established standards for the proper installation of a standing seam metal roof?
A: The local building authority in your area has jurisdiction over the use of unlisted building materials--those that are fabricated by the builder, rather than being produced by a roofing manufacturer. Such materials, their design and methods of installation have to be approved by your local building department. I would recommend contacting them regarding their approval of this installation.
If they do not adequately address your concerns, and if the contractor is not willing to correct the leakage problems, you should file a complaint with the state agency which licenses contractors.
It would also be a good idea to have the roof installation evaluated by another licensed roofing contractor and/or by a home inspector who specializes in construction defects.
If you have questions or comments, contact Barry Stone through his Web site at http://www.housedetective.com. Distributed by Access Media Group.