Termite Damaged Structural Lumber Caused An Unfinished House To Collapse Onto Construction Workers

Louisiana is home to eight termite pest species, four of which are subterranean species that nest and forage within soil, while the other four are drywood species that nest and feed within the wood items they inhabit. In most US states, the native eastern subterranean termite species inflicts the greatest amount of property damage, but Louisiana is an exception in this regard, as the invasive Formosan subterranean termite is easily the most economically costly termite pest species within the state. As of 2011, the annual economic cost of controlling termites and repairing termite-damaged structures in the US amounted to around five billion dollars, one billion of which was attributed solely to Formosan subterranean termites. Amazingly, 500 million of this one billion dollar figure was spent on Formosan termite control and damage repairs within the state of Louisiana alone, making Louisiana the most Formosan termite-infested state in the US by a long shot.

While these statistics may come as a shock to Americans living outside of the state, Louisiana residents have no problem believing that Formosan termites cause such a massive degree of property destruction, as houses become infested with these termites regularly in the state. Formosan termites are so voracious, that their rapid wood-eating habits can cause structures to collapse. In fact, not long ago, a house in the state collapsed while it had been under construction. Not surprisingly, termite damage to the home’s structural lumber caused the collapse.

During the fall of 2016, a house that had been under construction with the St. Roch neighborhood of New Orleans collapsed onto two construction workers, injuring both of them. The two workers fled out of the house just seconds before it collapsed. The collapse resulted from the installation of a termite-damaged support structure that the workers believed had been solid. A subsequent inspection of the collapsed home revealed that structural load-bearing top plates had also sustained significant termite damage. Considering the Formosan termites’ ubiquitous presence within the state, the construction workers admitted that they did not consider the home’s collapse to be a big surprise.

Have you ever heard of a structure collapsing due to advanced termite damage to the structure’s timber-frame?

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