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A Termite Pre-Treatment Gone Bad
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Hello.

I am building a new home.  Instead of using a suspended concrete porch, my contractor filled the cavity with dirt then placed concrete on top of the dirt. The soil around the footing and foundation were treated for termites, but of course the fill dirt was not.  Also, the rim joists
adjoining the porch slab are not pressure treated.  Do you think I have a problem?  How can you treat something like this after construction, and is it very expensive to do so?  Should the exterminator who gives me a warranty certificate (the guy who treated around the foundation) issue the certificate if he has not treated the fill dirt used in the porch?  Thanks for your help!

T. Murphy



And I wrote back with....

Well, actually, Tom, the exterminator should have treated the porch when all the fill was added and then smoothed out, ready for the slab to be poured.  Then the exterminator shows up just before the concrete and sprays the prepared fill.  Your builder (or exterminator) goofed.  Usually, what happens, is the builder fails to call the exterminator for the rest of the job - and a filled slab would be a very important part of the job.  More important than anything else, in my mind.  

This happens to us occasionally, the builder either forgets to call or the concrete man has some concrete left over, so he uses it, does it unannounced.  I only do pre-treats for a few (favorite) builders, ones that I trust, and when this happens, we go out and drill it out and treat it just like a standard termite job.  Frankly, we've only had this happen on front or back stoops, or small areas of concrete.  I like my builders so much, and have so very few problems, that we usually just do it - without an extra charge, most of the time.  If it were a new builder or something, we would charge extra.  If we miss it for any reason, and it's our fault, (it has happened) we also do it for free.

The only problem with doing this, of course, is that you will now have a succession of patched holes on your brand-new concrete pad.  I have had people object to this, but it's really nothing.  And if you want the best protection, this is the way to do it.  If it is NOT done, then this is undoubtedly the first place the termites will show up.

I have had a couple of people who have elected NOT to treat in a case like this. We still issue our standard forms and guarantees, we note the record that it was not treated, and treat it when a problem appears - usually 10-25 years later.  If the customer stays under our renewal plan during this time, any treatment would be covered under his renewal.  Most people opt for the treatment immediately. Therefore, you could certainly make a case for the treatment of the porch.  That should be at no cost to you, BTW.  

I would also ask the builder for the name of the exterminator, and call him up, see if their records indicate if any other areas (garage, patio slabs) were also left untreated. If so, they should be treated in an appropriate manner.  Also ask him what chemical was used, at what strength, in the original pre-treatment.  The same class of chemical should be used in any post-construction treats.  (That is, he shouldn't use a repellent termiticide when he's already used a non-repellent - or vice versa.)

Nice to hear from you.  Get back to me if you have more questions.

----John



(Tom checked in a few days later, told us that he had the exterminator drill and treat under the porch slab.  This is good.)

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