Termite infestation is one of the greatest fears of every homeowner. For such miniscule creatures, termites can bring catastrophic damage upon any foundation that is built from wood or closely-related materials. It is incredibly rare for termites to be found in small numbers, so any time that a foundation begins to show signs of their presence, drastic steps are required. The most common and effective of these drastic steps, is fumigation.
Initial Inspection and Getting an Estimate
When you first see signs of termites — or even if you aren’t sure of the signs and just want to be certain — you’ll likely want to call up a pest control service and have them visit your home for an inspection. Most established pest control services will provide an inspection of your foundation at no cost to you. Once the inspection has been completed and your foundation has been diagnosed with a termite infestation, the pest control representative will inform you of your options. The cost of these options can quickly become very expensive depending on the abundance and type of termites present, the size of your home (typically, measured in cubic feet, but appraised in linear feet), and the extent of damage that the termites have inflicted upon your foundation. Depending on the type of termites your house is infested with, the pest control representative may recommend having your house fumigated.
The cost of fumigation can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars (a rare minimum) to several thousand (in cases where the infestation is extreme, or where the house itself has large measurements). If your house has extensions such as a garage, deck, or patio, these too will have to be fumigated and will also be factored into the final bill. Pricing of fumigation can range anywhere between $1 to $4 per square foot, but on average, is closer to $2. At $2 per square foot, the fumigation of a 1,500-square-foot house would end up costing around $3,000. That may be a frightening sum for a number of homeowners — experienced or new — but it is a heavily worthwhile purchase and investment if you value your home. Failure to take appropriate, timely action against termites could result in much higher expenses for your home (not just for repairs, but also for things such cooling and heating), or having your home outright condemned if it is deemed unfit for human habitation.
Now that you have chosen fumigation as your option, you will have a number of things to further consider. Once fumigation is under way, your house will be “tented”. During the “tenting” process, the pest control service will place an enormous rubber tent around the perimeter of your house, and secure it to the ground. The reason this is done is to ensure that the toxic gases from fumigation do not escape into the air around your property — if that were to happen, your neighbors or surrounding wildlife could potentially get very sick.
During the Fumigation: Additional Costs
As you may have guessed, while your home is being tented and all of the fumigation gases are trapped inside, you will not be able to stay in your home. The pest control service may ask you to spend 3 to 7 days somewhere else for your own health and safety. This presents you with more potential bills. While some people may have family members that could provide housing for that period of time, others are likely going to have to pay to stay at a hotel. Depending on how many people are being forced out of your house during fumigation, the cost of renting at a room each night could add up very quickly. If you have pets, the rent for these rooms becomes even higher, as pet deposits will be required; your choices of hotels will be limited, too, as not all places will allow dogs or cats in their rooms.
While forced to stay outside of your home, you’ll also need to consider the expenses for feeding yourself and your family. One simple approach would be to eat restaurant food during the fumigation process, but that would not be the most cost-effective. Remember that you are already spending potential thousands on your house’s fumigation, and hundreds more on hotel room(s). A more financially feasible approach would be to bring any portable cooking appliances with you (microwave, blender, toaster oven, sandwich grill, slow cooker, etc.), and bring food that you can cook in those devices; odds are, the grocery bill for those days will be much cheaper than going out to eat 2 to 3 times a day. You may want to make sure your hotel room has a fridge, as well, in case you need to preserve leftovers or goods such as baby formula.
Transportation costs should be less of a concern for those few days. If you have children who take the bus to school, you may have to drive them to school instead. Depending on where you are staying, you may also have to drive a greater distance to get to work.
After the Fumigation: Repairs and Preventative Measures
Once the fumigation period is over and you can safely return to your home, you may have additional costs to consider. If the termites have done a lot of damage to your house’s structure, you are still going to have to pay for repairs. Depending on the type of termites you had and how much havoc they wreaked, repairs could amount to a bill that is once again in the thousands, possibly even exceeding the cost of fumigation. If you have a deck or patio that has been compromised by termites, it may end up being more affordable to simply have them rebuilt.
You may want to ask your insurance agent (assuming your property is insured) if your policy covers termite damage. If your insurance provider does not cover termite damage, you may want to search for one that does, particularly if you are concerned with future infestations.
Remember that while termites are a serious problem that requires quick action, you must also be financially prepared for the expenses that come with eliminating them via fumigation:
- Shelter — staying with extended family or renting hotel rooms.
- Food — providing you and your family with meals for the fumigation period.
- Pet Care — paying for additional rent expenses or deposits, while providing them food, water, and care.
- Transportation — additional gas usage when driving to work or to school.
- Future Repairs — fixing damage to your foundation caused by termites and preventing future infestations.
A termite’s ability to chew through your house will always result in you chewing through your money in retaliation. This is why it is so important to consider as many angles as possible when budgeting for termite fumigation.