Robert Lamoureux: Your Home Improvement


Dear Robert,

My husband and I enjoy your column in The Signal very much. Thank you for doing it!

We’ve been battling termites off and on for the last five years in our 22-year old Santa Clarita home. We’ve done spot treatments and a whole house treatment of silica gel powder, but once again, we have a recurrence.

In every case, we’ve only seen termites in our exterior laundry room wall downstairs (seemingly gone now) and the same wall directly upstairs in our master bath.

Since we’ve tried to avoid tenting the house due to the toxicity, and we can only see a localized problem, we’re thinking we should now open up the wall where we’ve seen the problem and 1) see how extensive the damage is 2) focus the treatment directly on the active nest, if we can locate it and 3) repair any damage we find.

Does this seem like a reasonable approach?

My husband does a lot of the work on our house, but this is probably something we’d prefer to have a pro do.

How much can we leave to the termite company (we’re still in the warranty period) and what should we entrust to a contractor? What sort of contractor could best help us?

Thank you in advance for your thoughts! Termites are definitely a problem that can keep a homeowner awake at night! -J and S O.


Thank you for being one of our readers, feel free to surrender an address and the office will send you a Signal/ IMS coffee mug.

If your husband is this handy, and you have had this ongoing problem, then I would recommend that he open it up and see for yourselves the damage that may be within the walls.

With the open walls you’ll be treating the full area and, as you stated, will be able to see the damage better and be able to treat it better.

Ironically we have a commercial building we are in the process of opening in the south valley and the termites they are finding are unreal. The owner of this building and its tenants had no idea the extensive problem they had.

Most termite companies do quality woodwork, as this is what they do on a daily basis. If they are giving you a bid for the work you might want to entertain it. If not, you can contact BJ Construction here in town, for an estimate.

Unfortunately we don’t do residential in my business, so I am unable to assist directly. Best of luck to you; feel free to reach out again.


Hi Robert,

I’m an avid reader of your article though I don’t live in the area. My daughter does live in town and when I visit on the weekends I read your article, otherwise she saves them for me to catch up on.

I’ve certainly learned a lot over time, and enjoy the information that you share.

My husband and I are doing something that we’ve never done before. We are adding to our home, including a second level. We started with an architect who did the drawings and took them to a contractor that we liked and who had a good reputation, and got our price.

We then submitted them to the city who made a whole bunch of changes.

Now the contractor tells us that the price will change because plan check made corrections.

Is the contractor not bound to his original bid to do the work even though the city made some corrections? He looked at the plans and should know about corrections, right?

We want to be fair but don’t want to be taken advantage of, either. What is your opinion? -Linda C.


I have several opinions on this. If there are many corrections, perhaps the architect may not be well-versed and the problem may lie in the architect who you chose. This is why the city is there, to check on those planning the project and making sure that all plans are following city guidelines and local codes.

The contractor is not responsible for omissions of the architect, although I do wonder why he bid the work prior to you getting them through plan check so he could accurately bid on an approved plan – perhaps you were just asking for a preliminary number to work with.

In our company we will typically bid on an approved plan, so that we are not putting folks through what you’re going through now.

Legally your contractor is not bound since he didn’t receive monies, and if he is reputable and recommended, you may want to continue with him.

Please be sure before anything else though, that you check the status of his license, and ask him to have his insurance documents sent to you directly from his agent, making sure that he is fully covered for general liability and worker’s comp.

You need to be sure that you are working with someone who is fully insured, in case of any incidents. This step is the most important step in the process, I can guarantee it.

Be sure to not pay the final amount at the end, until you are sure that you have final inspection signed off with the city, and all work has been performed to your liking, including clean up.

You are not obligated to pay until all parts of the agreement have been satisfied. Good luck to you.

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