doing your own termite inspection

in Pete Youngs seminar he mentions you can do your own termite inspection before you hire a professional to save money. anyone have any more info on how one could go about doing so? he mentions places to look, signs to look for, etc.

i don’t plan on doing my own inspections, but i would like to increase my knowledge of what to look for (other problems too…not just termintes) and techniques used to find other issues before i get a professional.

anyone have any helpful info or links which i can use which can help me evaluate potential deals i might come across? any info is welcome…from termites to foundation to roof…any helpful pointers of how to go about inspecting it myself.


Termites hate daylight…look for their tunnels along the foundation and leading to food (e.g., wood). Look for soft spots on wooden surfaces where they might be. Somtimes, they break through the surfaces. If you see a likely spot, poke it with a screwdriver or an awl.

I would also recommend that the next termite inspection that you pay for, have the inspector take you and show you what he/she is looking for.



Google around for a “home inspection checklist”. A good checklist can open your eyes to potential problems and items to look for. I used to think I was pretty good at reviewing a property and finding problems but the checklist forces you to document problems and ensures things are not overlooked. I now use a 10 page checklist that I originally got off the web and modified/reorganized for my own use. I realize 10 pages sounds long but there are many duplicate items for each bedroom and bathroom.

Regarding termites, I always look for dirt/soil/mulch that might be touching anything other than concrete - its and open invitation to termites. As Keith suggested, bring a long screwdriver to poke the foundation timber. You need to inspect from both the inside and outside. In my area, concrete steps that are butted against the foundation and sill plates are prime area for infiltration even though you can’t see the tunnels (the termites come up between the steps and the foundation). Also, check to see if the builder used a “termite shield”, usually a roll of asphalt shingle type material or alluminum flashing between the concrete foundation and the wood sill plate. Termites will come righ up the inside of a cinder block and attack the sill plate if there is nothing to stop them

Also, look for garden timber butted against the house.

Anytime you find even a small area of soft/rotted/infested wood you can assume the termites have done considerable more damage than is easily observable.

One final item, most mortgage companies (at least in my area) require a “certified” termite inspection before providing the purchase money. Might be different for HML or rehab financing since they expect you to fix any problems.


In my area of Texas we have carpenter ants that will attack the wood of the house anywhere they can. They got my porch roof. They are in my shed and I can’t find where they are entering but I sure can tell where they have been. Will probably need a professional and all areas above and below need to be checked. I thought I had found a “deal” once only to find that almost the entire house had literally been eaten by carpenter ants.

Yea, carpenter ants are big here. Watch for tree limbs that touch the house. I had them come in through the roof. You can see the trail.

For termites, brittle wood with the tunnels in it is a dead give away…besides what the others said here.