How expensive will fixing the floors be?
June 14, 2008 4:31 PM   Subscribe

What's the cost and effort involved in fixing floors attacked by termites and fungus in the bay area?

We recently looked at a house that has extensive subterranean termite damage to the floors in the kitchen, living room, and bathrooms.

It sounded like whoever bought it would need to first get rid of the termites then redo the floors including joist replacement

How much would this cost in the bay area?

Would it be possible to kill the termites first and then slowly remodel (and would we have to live with holes in the floor until that's done)?

Would it be possible to do the floor demolition and reconstruction ourselves, given that there's no basement to access it from? Or should we pay a contractor to do that, and how much might it cost?

posted by bumpybear to Home & Garden (1 answer total)
This is too vague a set of question to offer very specific answers here in AskMe. Much depends on the exact damage, and the construction of the house, but if the structure has damage as extensive as you briefly outline, I would be very surprised if there weren't also damage to basic structural elements like sills and walls, that will have to be corrected. If you identify significant damage to load bearing parts of the structure, like walls, it's another level of complexity, entirely, in doing a remodel/repair. Even without such complications, it's definitely a project on the very edge of DYI land, for experienced people. Moreover, I think you'd have issues getting documentation for any kind of conventional mortgage lending on such a property, so that it would be project for someone with some remodeling capital to carry.

It's also really important to understand exactly what pests are attacking the structure, as it could actually be a mix of problems, including termites, carpenter ants, and boring beetles, along with mildew and fungus. In older structures, insect damage is often a trace of water leaks, as the insects need both the warmth and food supplied by structure, and the water from a leak, to nest and reproduce in significant numbers. So, you could have termites eating away from the ground up, and carpenter ants following small water leaks up into the walls and attic., along with mildew and fungus fed by moisture from the water leaks, and from the egg sacs of living nests of ants. At some point, habitation of a sufficiently damaged structure is unwise and unsafe, if load bearing elements are involved in such damage. And, from personal experience, I can tell you that trying to live in such a structure, while remodeling it, is more stressful and problematic than it seems, going in.

If you're seriously interested in this, your best bet is to pay an experienced home inspector for a thorough inspection, and to then solicit some bids from reputable contractors. You might also need to get bids from termite services willing to correct the problem, and then bond the structure and future repairs, for a site that is that problematic. That's the only way you're going to get meaningful cost figures on such a job. An inspection which thoroughly checks the structural elements, knowing there is extensive termite damage already, is likely to cost more than a normal inspection of a newer home, because of the extra time and probing involved, but better you know the damage for an extra few hundred dollars up front, than to get in over your head in a project where you keep getting bad news as you get further into demolition. Such an inspection is also going to have to serve in a pre-construction phase, as the base of any job estimates you get from contractors, or put together yourself, so it is important you get an inspection report that is detailed, and complete with photos and sketches, documenting the damage to be corrected.
posted by paulsc at 3:42 AM on June 15, 2008

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