What Every Home Buyer and Seller Needs to Know About Getting a CL-100 Inspection in Charleston

mrh-blog-close-up of termites on termite-damaged wood
South Carolina is one of the most beautiful states in our country, but living here isn’t totally disadvantage-free. Those hot summers and warm winters aren’t just attractive to Americans—termites love them too. That’s why it’s important to know about getting a Charleston CL-100 inspection.

If you’ve lived in South Carolina your whole life, chances are pretty good that you’ve had a visit or two from these unwanted guests. Just the slightest bit of excess moisture can lead to a termite infestation and subsequent structural damage to your property. Getting rid of this unpleasant colony of insects isn’t a walk in the park, nor are any costs for repairing wood damage.

The city of Charleston is fortunate to have stunning historical homes, both big and small. Many older buildings are built with wood, making them more susceptible to an infestation. Imagine buying your dream Charleston home just to move in and find out that you’ll have thousands of dollars of termite damage to pay for. Just like that, your dream home becomes a financial burden.

This scenario is exactly what the CL-100 inspection is designed to protect against. By investing in a termite inspection in Charleston, SC, prospective buyers and sellers can find out if there is any presence of wood-eating insects on the property and receive a cost of damages assessment. As a licensed builder, a Charleston handyman from Mr. Handyman of Charleston and Summerville is able to clear the CL-100 and perform any necessary repairs.

The Charleston CL-100 Inspection: What Is It?

The Charleston CL-100 is the official wood termite infestation report form provided by and required by our government of South Carolina. Also known as a termite letter, the CL-100 inspection report is needed to close a home in South Carolina.

The climate in Charleston is very hot and humid and is, consequently, the perfect environment for wood termites. It's more than possible to have an infestation and not know anything about it, as these troublesome insects like to gnaw at the wood in dark, moist spaces beneath the floor.

During any termite inspection in Charleston, SC, your inspector will look for drywood termites, subterranean termites, and other wood-destroying insects such as powder post beetles, old house borers, carpenter ants, and carpenter bees. The inspector will also check to see if the building has been treated for subterranean termites before, look for evidence of active and non-active wood-destroying fungi, and ensure the sub-main floor wood moisture content is below 20 percent.

If no traces of insects or fungi are found, the CL-100 inspector will give the termite letter a grade of CL, meaning 'clear letter.' On the other hand, if any signs of pests are found, the type, location, and extent of the damage will be reported on the CL-100. Until this damage is fixed and the infestation is eliminated by pest control, your home will not be able to close.

What Are Termites?

As a resident of Charleston, South Carolina, you probably already know what termites are. On the small chance that you don't—where have you been living, and can we move there too?

In case you're in that small minority, termites are a type of wood-eating insect. Their main source of nutrition is cellulose, which is abundant in wood. Because they are prone to drying out, they typically tend to live in colonies below surfaces where it's damp. There are two types of termites that tend to infest Charleston properties:

  • Subterranean termites are by far the most popular South Carolina termite. They nest in the ground and consume soft, moist wood.
  • Drywood termites do not need to be in contact with water to survive, so they can infest dried-out wood above-ground. Decks are especially vulnerable. If you're noticing your deck has been damaged, we recommend visiting our guide on deck repair to get it back to speed.

Having a cracked foundation and storing wood near the side of your building are two great ways to invite termites to come feast on your home. Unfortunately, as Charleston residents know, there isn't always a foolproof way to prevent termite infestations.

Reasons to Get a Termite Inspection in Charleston, SC

If you're a prospective buyer and have found a house you'd like to put in an offer for, it's recommended that you get a Charleston CL-100 inspection. Likewise, if you're selling your home, you are legally required to complete a termite inspection in Charleston, SC. This report is, therefore, a requirement for a real estate transaction.

Prospective Buyers

As a prospective buyer, when you approach mortgage lenders or any other lending institutions, they will more than likely ask for a CL-100 report before approving your mortgage. Banks are all about risk avoidance and want to make sure mortgage approvals work in their favor.

While this might sound like a pain, this protects you as a buyer as well. You don't want to end up paying a mortgage on a property that requires thousands of dollars of termite-related repairs down the line. If the CL-100 report comes back with evidence of an infestation, you have the option to pass or negotiate any costs for repairs with the seller.


Once a buyer puts an offer in on your home, you’ll need to present a clear Charleston CL-100 inspection report to make it official. As part of any closing process, a termite inspection is non-negotiable.

The CL-100 is only valid for 30 days, so if any damage is found, you may need to pay for another Charleston CL-100 inspection after the repairs have been made. Something worth considering is getting a termite inspection in Charleston, SC, completed prior to putting your property on the market. That way, you can address any issues in advance and can close with confidence, knowing that any buyer's CL-100 report will be clear.

Who Pays?

In South Carolina, the seller and buyer both have the ability to pick an inspector. They both also have the ability to pick who pays for the inspection. As a buyer, it is in your best interest to, at the very least, choose an inspector yourself. Suppose you can get the homeowner to agree to pay for the inspector of your choice; great. Nine times out of ten, the homeowner will have integrity, but you never know if they happen to have a friend who is an inspector and willing to lie about evidence of termite activity.

Common Signs of Termite Activities

Finding visible evidence of termites isn't always easy. A few common signs of termite infestation that you should keep your eyes peeled for include:

  • Discarded wings. The most obvious—and most repulsive—sign of termites is the wings they leave behind. Termite colonies are made up of workers, soldiers, and swarmers. Swarmers are the only termites in colonies with wings and are responsible for reproduction. When ready to mate, swarmers will travel away from their nest to find a mate. Following mating, they shed their wings to signify that they are single, much like a married couple wears wedding rings. If you find discarded wings, it's extremely likely that a newlywed couple has created their new nest somewhere nearby.
  • Mud tubes. Because subterranean termites can’t travel without adequate moisture, they’ll sometimes build mud tubes to travel in when they need to get to a new food source.
  • Warped windows and doors. When termites infest wooden window frames and door frames, they consume any wood inside of frames. This can cause your frames to warp, making it difficult to open and shut your doors and windows. If your door is no longer usable, we recommend visiting our guide on door installation to see how to replace it easily.
  • Hollow-sounding wood. Termites effectively hollow out wood by eating a trail right through it. When you tap this wood, you should be able to hear evidence of this.
  • Clicking noises. If you're very quiet, you may be able to actually hear a termite colony hard at work. Worker termites make noise as they eat through your wood and bang against this wood to warn the rest of their colony when they sense a disturbance—which is oftentimes you.

Finding Wood Termite Damage

What happens if the worst happens and the CL-100 report comes back with evidence of those nasty little creatures? First—don’t panic. This isn’t the news you wanted, but not all is lost. If you fail a termite inspection in Charleston, SC, you’ll need to invest in termite treatment. Once pest control services address the issue, you can get a Charleston CL-100 inspection done again and receive a passing grade.

Termite control services may take one or several of the following steps to rid you of your wood-burrowing insect problem:

  • Liquid treatment to create a barrier outside of your home.
  • Poisonous bait to lure termites in and take back with them to poison the rest of the colony.
  • Direct chemicals to kill termites inside of your home.

Once those pesky insects have been eradicated, you can get the appropriate repairs done. As homeowners who have failed a termite inspection in Charleston, SC, before can attest, it's shocking to see how much damage those wood devourers can do in such a short period of time. Diligent homeowners who get annual inspections done are sometimes dumbfounded by the state of their property in a year following their previous inspection. More likely than not, you'll need to fully replace the damaged wood to rebuild the structural integrity of your home. This doesn't come cheap, and you can bet that the prospective buyer won't agree to pay it.

Protecting Your Home from Termite Damage

As we’ve established, termite infestations are something you just don’t want to have to deal with—or pay for. You’re much better off taking some time and effort to avoid attracting them in the first place. To improve your chances of avoiding costly repairs and getting a passing grade on a Charleston CL-100 inspection, there are some preventative measures you can take:

  • Keep your gutters and plumbing system maintained. If there’s one takeaway from this article, it’s that moisture near your property is the enemy. Your gutters are responsible for carrying water away from your home. Clogged and damaged gutters can’t do their job properly and will result in rainwater accumulation close to the side of your home. For termites, this is basically an open invitation to lunch. Likewise, a plumbing leak or burst pipe creates unnecessary moisture and increases your risk of getting an infestation.
  • Ensure the only part of your home that comes in contact with the ground is made from brick or concrete. Though workers and soldiers can travel short distances via mud tubes, they won’t do so unless given no other option. If your home’s siding extends all the way to the ground, you’re playing with fire. Replacing the bottom portion of the exterior of your home with brick or concrete will act as a deterrent.
  • Fill in any cracks and crevices along the foundation with caulking. A crack in the foundation provides those wood eaters with a moist and insulated pathway to wooden joists inside your home. Filling these cracks will make it difficult for them to get inside.
  • Get an annual termite inspection in Charleston, SC. You can also purchase a termite bond, which is essentially an agreement between you and the extermination company providing pest control services. Annual inspections are included in bonds, and if termites reoccur, they will be treated. These bonds are a great option for Charleston homeowners who want peace of mind.

Contact Mr. Handyman of Charleston and Summerville Today for a Charleston CL-100 Inspection

As a licensed home builder, Mr. Handyman of Charleston and Summerville is one of the few companies that can clear the CL-100. Additionally, whether you need caulking to fill cracks, wood repair, siding repair, or window and door frame repairs, we'll erase all evidence of termites, so you'd never know they were there in the first place.

Since opening our doors, we have strived to provide excellent customer service to residents of Charleston, Summerville, Goose Creek, and the surrounding communities. Our service technicians have an average of 10 years of experience in the handyman and carpentry industries and have seen their fair share of wood-eating insects.

If you’re ready to get that Charleston CL-100 inspection report cleared and close on your home, give our friendly and professional team a call today. We can’t wait to be a part of your home buying or selling journey.