Building & Pest Inspections – The “Termite Tango”

Who is Leading the Dance?

Dizzy Ant

Pre Purchase Building and Pest (B&P) Inspections are an important component of buying a property.

They are intended to identify significant defects in the property which may affect the structural integrity of the dwelling and surrounding structures.

However, the current litigious nature of our society has seen the evolution of B&P reports that have more content of disclaimers, warnings, notices, and waivers than of actual meaningful content about the condition of the property.

Many reports are generated with a standard template that contains all the generic disclaimers, with the report writer inserting minimal detail for the specific property.

The problem here lies in the fact that the person reading the report observes so much generic negative detail that it appears that the property has serious issues.

If you have sold a property it is highly likely that you have experienced this scenario when an offer has been accepted and a B&P inspection done, the prospective purchaser becomes very alarmed about what they perceive the report to be indicating.

In many cases the actual content of the report, brought into perspective, is describing a fair and reasonable condition for the property for its age.

The word “Termite” appearing in a pest report is sufficient in itself to cause distress in an already weary and frustrated purchaser.

The reality is that Australia is a bush environment and termites are found everywhere.

In doing the “Termite Tango” it is necessary to recognise that some kind of termite activity will be found by the B&P inspector and it is quite normal to find reference to termites in the majority of reports, particularly for properties in Northern and Coastal areas.

Too frequently now, any reference to the T word (Termite) in a B&P report is a pre-programmed lead in for the purchaser to seek to re-negotiate the price downward.

There may be some instances where this re-negotiation is legitimate, but the majority of the time it is simply brinksmanship.

IF, there was found to be serious structural damage or current active termite colonies within the dwelling structures it would be a fair and reasonable proposition to seek a remedy by way of rectification works to be carried out by the vendor, or in the alternate, a revision of the sale price.

However, if the extent of termite activity is limited and superficial with no current working activity, it would fall into the category of normal.

It is very much a matter of interpretation and perspective!

To Avoid The Termite Tango…..

Vendors should employ the services of reputable pest controllers to routinely carry out preventative termite and pest treatments and inspections.

Purchasers should approach B&P reports with a balanced perspective, seeking to determine that the property is in a fair and reasonable condition for its age, and expect to see some reference to termites.

Real Estate Agents should pro-actively resolve the issues that arise from B&P inspections in a manner which is fair and balanced to both the vendor and purchaser, and addressing the “real” content of the B&P report with less reference to the hollow, litigation dodging, non-content of disclaimers, warnings, notices, and waivers.


Drew Oliver

Regional & Rural Realty

Termites in Australia


Termites in Australia are categorised under the following species names;

Map supplied by CSIRO Australia.