Termites - anyone else had a problem?

5 Replies

We purchased our Maison de Village on 13th May, and almost immediately discovered extensive and live termites infesting the kitchen floor and one beam.  We were devastated, as you can imagine.  There is also old evidence of damage to one window lintel and the front door frame, on closer inspection, but this does not appear to be live.  Does anyone have any experience of termites in beams, and know how much damage can be done before a beam becomes structurally unsafe?  The beam is a huge thing - more than five metres long and at least 20 x 20 cm, and there is surface damage along two sides for about a metre and a half, but under this the beam feels fairly sound.  It had been plastered over but a second surveyor, employed by us, noticed tell tale signs straight away in this beam and pointed out where to remove the plaster.  The beam won't be easy to replace in a village house with neighbours on either side The survey done before purchase indicated that the house was free of termites, and to be fair, the original company have met us, admitted they made a mistake and are paying for treatment BUT they are saying they will not pay for structural damage as it has been there a long time.   We are having a further meeting on Tuesday.  We understand that any removed timber has to be burnt 'on site' - again difficult in a village house with no garden and no open fire!  This will leave us without a kitchen floor and with a dodgy beam! If anyone in the Languedoc area has gone through a similar experience I'd be only too happy to hear from them, to know how they went on, and if they have any tips to offer in our circumstances.  We'd be grateful to hear from anyone with any suggestions, help, or even 'Absolutely don't do x or y or whatever...................' 

Featured Classified


TASKER-497318 1435422860

Hiya -    what a horrible situation -    we havent experienced this ourselves but can only say to insist on a specialised company to treat the problem.    Maybe the specialist can insist the beam  needs to be replaced and that will be paid for also.   If not try your house insurance or if you have a mortgage ask your bank for advice.  As a possible comfort -  there was a village house in Couiza that was badly infested -  no garden and no ourside space -   that house was treated and massive beams replaced  now you would never know that they had the problem.    Good luck xx Carol xx  

duxfordman-482363 1435429842

Termites eat from the inside, and the classic test is to poke it with a sharp object. If it is weak or hollow you have termites so surface damage is not an indication of termites.

You need to talk to a notaire urgently,  not the one who handled the sale, just in case there is a vested interest and I think you should be able to sue the expertise who did the inspection for the total cost of repair. It is incredibly serious if you have termites, you also are supposed to tell the Maire, and the neighbours need to know, since the ends of the beams are probably in close proximity. Replacing the beams means jacking up the area they support, extracting the old wood and replacing it, either with another wooden beam or a modern steel/wood beam. Messy but not difficult. Don't know about burning on site, it takes an age to burn 5 m beams, there must be an alternative. Termite inspections only last 6 months, they are normally renewed just before  the sale so you need to check the date of the termite inspection against the date of sale.  You only have 6 months after the date of sale to make a claim that can be taken to court, if you leave it longer it has to be settled by arbitration,  which is not good from your point of view. Finally if you can't speak French well enough find a translator who can help you.

Hope this helps, good luck





ValDa (Aude) 1435490573

Thanks both.  We're lucky in that we have a good friend who is helping us with the translation, and she's also a trained mediator, so a real asset!!  (Thanks C for your extraordinary help in case you're reading this!)

We have notified our Notaire - and the independent surveyor he suggested has done a full extra survey.  We don't really have a problem with the treatment in that the original company are organising and paying for that, but just the problem with the 'structure'.  Our second expert thought that the beam was OK.  In our case the beam was plastered over, and he says in that case they eat from the outside, as they are already 'in the dark' and don't need to chew right into the wood.  We have prodded and poked and hammered, and the beam 'rings' suggesting that it is solid inside.

We have also notified the Mairie, and it was there, at the suggestion of the lovely lady Mayor, that the workmen who work for the commune have agreed to take away the wood and burn it somewhere safely, so that isn't a problem either.

The survey is also 'within date' as it was done on the 20th February and we notified the original company on the 1st June - and their (and our) insurers.  I suppose our problem is really frustration in that we have to just 'wait and see' until the treatment has been done, and in the meantime we can't get on with all the things we planned.  I very much appreciate the advice and will let you know how we get on, on Tuesday!

Still the weather is hot and we can sit out on our roof terrace, or down by the Plan d'Eau and read.  Anyone got any spare books?  (Insert simley icon here)

ValDa (Aude) 1435739648

Just to let everyone know,  the termite treatment company came yesterday, and can do the work at two weeks' notice.  The beam is local very hard oak so is fine - though they confirmed the damage to the outside (apparently if beams are plastered over then the termites are already in the dark so don't 'burrow').  They have agreed to drill all the beams near to the top so we can hide the plugs with fillets of wood and we have to move out of the house for at least a week whilst the house is treated.

When they had left we started to remove the pine floor.  Lovely softwood......!  The work was unbelievably bad though the result looked great on the top.  Under the floor was an old tiled floor and the 'joists' of 2" x 2" timbers had been laid directly on to the top of the tiles, in some places wedged with chipboar.  Of course this had all disintegrated with damp.................!  So a termite take-away paradise really.

Six hours and 21 minutes later the floor was gone, and removed down to the decheterrie where they were ready to burn it.  It's now back to the original tiles - unfortunately not in great condition, but at least a floor we can walk about on.  

Anyone know about replacing original 17th century floor tlles?

ValDa (Aude) 1443615700

This horrible saga continues.  The original surveying company organised a company to come and treat the house, assuring us that the whole house would be treated.  We expected this to be in line with the recommendations we'd had from other professionals - floors, external and internal walls, all woodwork which can be accessed including beams, door and window frames, sills, staircase, etc.

We had to empty the house completely and leave the house for a week, and returned to find that the work done had been completely inadequate - however we were assured that we would receive a 'guarantee'.  This failed to arrive, and we didn't even know the name of the company who had done the treatment  - they arrived in a plain white van,  and gave us no business card or paperwork.

Now, a month later we have still no paperwork, and what's worse is that our staircase has just collapsed - and digging into the collapsed area this morning has revealed live termites marching and munching happily!  We have another meeting with the original surveyor tomorrow but as he's already said he won't pay for the structural damage, we are now in for several thousand poundsworth of work.  Not only that but the staircase is a lovely old feature of the house, with a very traditional look, and a replacement will be obviously new.

Anyone know a good solicitor.......................................?

Sometimes it just helps to get things off your chest!

Join the discussion