San Diego is a stunning city. From the beautiful Balboa Park to the world-renowned San Diego Zoo and all of the amazing restaurants and bars, if you own property in San Diego, you should be celebrating every night because there’s no doubt your tenants are paying good money to live there. You get to feel all that fresh ocean air every night and every morning and, if you’re close enough to the beach, watch that fog roll in from the ocean before you go to bed.
But did you know all that moisture from the fresh ocean air could actually be destroying your unit from the inside out? And that it could be attracting termites to boot?
Moisture Can Wreak Havoc on Your Multifamily
One of the most memorable renovations we ever did was for a man named Jim who owned a 20-unit multifamily close to the beach in San Diego. Though it was a beautiful complex, it was infested with wood rot and ravaged by termites. Some of the studs were so rotted that they were one stiff wind from collapsing entirely. All that moisture in the air had provided fertile grounds for wood rot to develop and compromise the entire structural integrity of the building. And then all that wood rot had attracted an army of termites that only furthered the damage.
Termites and wood rot can cause massive and long-lasting problems for any structure. The two are also linked because termites are attracted to wood rot. Wood is already rich in cellulose, which is a big draw for termites, but when you add moisture into the bargain, your house turns into an ideal termite breeding ground. Often, property owners will spot the damage but not be able to tell which is the cause of the problem. Sometimes they’re actually dealing with both.
Luckily, both problems are very fixable. In the case of Jim’s property, we were fortunate to catch the problem in time to save the complex from the brink of disaster and get it up and running again. So if you’re in the same sinking boat, just know that you don’t have to keep bailing water.
What Exactly Is Wood Rot?
The first thing you have to understand about wood rot is that it’s not just wood growing old. While there can be various specific causes, wood rot is generally caused by a fungus that breaks down wood fibers and renders it weak and brittle. And fungi thrive in the moist climates of beach cities like San Diego, where the ocean air can be fierce.
If the damaged area of the wood rot is structural—and it often is—the repair costs can reach into the thousands. To truly understand how serious the problem can be, just remember that replacement wood needed to repair wood-rot-fungi damage accounts for 10% of the annual wood production in the U.S.
Unfortunately, most property owners wait too long to investigate signs of the problem. They’re completely unaware it’s happening until it’s too late. And by the time they do notice, the termites have often moved in to feast on all that tasty wood rot, compounding the problem.
The Truth About Termites
It’s hard to imagine that something so small can cause such catastrophic damage. Depending on the type of wood, size of the colony, and even the temperature of the environment, termites can overrun a structure in six months. On average, a homeowner with termite damage can spend $3,000 to remedy the situation. Others will have to demolish their house if the problem is severe enough.
Now just imagine that multiplied on the scale of a full multifamily! These numbers could easily triple or even quadruple. That doesn’t even take into consideration the number of distressed tenants who might charge you with noncompliance if you fail to take care of the problem effectively, or move out and leave you with vacant units.
Even if and when you do, there’s no guarantee that one quick fix-up will do the job. Once they become a problem, termites can continue to wreak havoc for 10 or more years.
Consider More Than the Cost of Repairs
Back in June 2015, a fifth-floor balcony in Berkeley, California, collapsed, killing six people and injuring seven more. It was later revealed that the contractor for the complex used inferior wood to construct the balcony back in 2005. According to the lawsuit, a fungal bloom and biologic growth appeared on the balcony and by 2014, it was seen tilting downward.
The worst part was that the whole incident was preventable. The building was only eight years old when the balcony collapsed. The owner and property manager allegedly did nothing, even though there were red flags suggesting the joints had been compromised.
Now the owner, property manager, and contractor are involved in lawsuits. In addition, the Alameda County district attorney’s office is contemplating involuntary manslaughter charges. And the city of Berkeley released a report stating that dry rot was the only contributing factor to the structural failure of the balcony.
It’s easy to see that you have a lot more to lose than some cash if your building is in need of repairs. The lives of your tenants can also be at stake.
How REIG Can Help
We’ve seen firsthand what termites and wood rot can do—and we’re experienced in remediating the problems before they become too much to handle. As one of the most trusted multifamily remodeling companies in Southern California, we’ve built our reputation through hard work and a steadfast dedication to creating prosperous communities. So if you’re losing a battle to termites or wood rot, make sure you reach out so we can set you up with a free consultation—call us today!