I recommend that you (and also advise all my clients to) hire a licensed termite company to perform a wood-destroying pest inspection on any home you buy in San Diego before you remove your investigation contingency from the purchase contract. Termites can be found in thousands of homes across San Diego County, and I would not be surprised if there are termites in the home you are about to buy. It is important for home buyers to be informed with general information about wood-destroying pests (such as termites, fungus, etc.) and also to find out as much information about your specific home as possible. If at all possible, be present during your termite/wood-destroying pest inspection, so you can talk to the inspector about any issues that he/she finds.
Once you receive the report, you will want to look for a few things. First of all, did the inspector find any active infestation in the home? This is a yes/no question, and there should be clear verbiage in the report indicating whether or not any active infestation was found (such as subterranean termites, drywood termites, fungus/dryrot, or other findings). If there was none found, that means the inspector found none in the accessible areas. You should talk to the inspector to find out if there were any inaccessible areas he could not inspect. If the report indicates that the inspector found some issues, you should read on to find out specifically what he/she found.
You should see a diagram on the report that shows a rough drawing of the outline of your home (such as the one pictured above). On that drawing you will see numbers and letters. Scroll down the report to find the corresponding numbers and letters to see what each one stands for. The inspector will list the specific findings in this way. Finally, you will want to see the inspector's recommendations for remedying the situation. There are several options that you could see including fumigation, local treatment, replacing and repainting certain pieces of wood, etc. The report should also show how much this company would charge to do the work.
You may also notice items listed in two sections, Section 1 and Section 2. Section 1 items refer to active infestation, whereas Section 2 items refer to conditions found at the home that could lead to future infestation (but are not currently actively infested). Depending on what you negotiated with the seller, you may be required to pay for all the work, or the seller may pay for all of it, or perhaps the seller pays for Section 1 and you pay for Section 2 items. Ask your exclusive buyer's agent if you don't remember what you agreed to in your purchase contract.
A Few More Notes:
(1) Termite inspections are not required by law in California. You could potentially buy a home in San Diego without requiring an inspection to be performed (and some people do). However, I highly recommend that you do one, because there can be thousands of dollars of treatment or repairs that you may be unaware of without performing this inspection.
(2) Termite/wood-destroying pest inspections on condos are much different than on single family homes. In condos, you typically own the space between the walls, but not the actual structure. The home owners association is typically (but not always - so read your HOA documents) responsible for treating and preventing wood-destroying pests for the entire complex. In these cases, the inspector may peform a limited inspection. The inspection would only cover the interior of your specific condo and not include the roof and exterior of the complex.
(3) Some people think that there is no need to perform a wood-destroying pest inspection in a condo building that is made of steel and or concrete (no wood in the structure). However, that is not entirely true. If you have wood inside your unit (in cabinets, drawers, walls, etc.) there is a possibility of wood-destroying pests. You might as well still have the inspection done for peace of mind (the inspection report doesn't cost more than $100 for most companies I've come across).
(4) If you are concerned about fumigation and never want the home you live in to be fumigated, you should not buy a condo, because that decision will be outside of your control the way most home owners associations are run. It is highly likely that the home or condo you live in will have termites in it at some point during your life span.
Justin Gramm is the founder and principal broker of Globella Buyers Realty, your San Diego Exclusive Buyer Brokerage. He also writes this blog, "For San Diego Home Buyers."
Exclusive Buyer Agents do not list homes for sale and never represent sellers. They have no "inventory" to try to sell you. They can represent you in purchasing any home. They are specialists at representing buyers only on the buyers' side of the transaction. Exclusive Buyer Agents work to get buyers the best price and terms when they buy a home.
If you have excellent credit and plan to buy a home or condo in San Diego County within 90 days, contact Justin Gramm to hire an agent on your side of the transaction. Call Justin at (858) 437-2662 or E-mail.