Please, observe that only after a specialized inspection termite evidences and signs may be found. My practice is in mainly Greater Los Angeles area and Southern California. First of all, in this area if the house has not received a complete treatment such as fumigation in last 15 years, it is almost guaranteed to have problems. There are some exceptions though which mainly are the house being built prior to 1920, being located more than 100 feet from any nearby structure, and being located more than 2500 feet above sea level. The closer we go to the Ocean Line, the less years are required. for example on beach cities such as Redondo Beach, Malibu, Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, especially for houses right next to the Ocean, 16 years will become 5-10 years. The other factor is the year house is built: the younger is the house or add-on the 15 years gets less. for example, for a house built in 1980 in Redondo Beach complete treatments such as fumigation is needed every 5 years to keep it in a proper state. However, for a house built in 1950s in Baldwin Park, every 15 years might be sufficient. So, knowing this will already give some idea. The inspectors whom I hired who were on training with me were being surprised when I was spending 2-3 minutes in a house and telling them almost with complete certainty what will be the actual findings after 1 or 2 hour inspection. The above is one of the method I use, in addition to many others which are merely specialized experience after doing more than 15,000 inspections myself. If your house or other character is located in another area, you can nevertheless use this method by taking into consideration the following factors: There are few drywoods. North from Paso Robles, unless house is in San Francisco Bay area. There are few drywoods east from I15 and at the same time North from I 10. Same principles apply to South Easter Part of Arizona, Florida and other Southern States. There are very few or no drywoods in states not bordering with Mexico. Hawaii, Southern California and coastal areas of Florida are the highest infested areas.
Now that you may have some idea if there will likely be termites or not let me give you some tips of how to detect them yourself, if possible.
If walls are not covered at the garage it might be easy to detect drywood infestation. You need a flashlight and look at right areas. As soon as you go into the garage turn left or right and look at studs and especially cripples near the garage door. Usually there are cripples which are perpendicular to studs about 1-1.15 feet from the ground level. Direct your flashlight and look and see if there are pullets which look like sawdust. If you see any of those, most likely they are drywood pullets which they kick out from the wood to clear more space for them. If you do not find those near garage door keep on looking at other areas on cripples and above beams. These droppings get caught be wood members which are horizontal or are on the ground level such as cripples which enforce vertical studs and mudsills which are the first wood member attached to the ground level on a concrete foundation or slab. already if you do not find anything looking like sawdust there, you may nevertheless be able to find them yourself. Most shared area infested by drywood in garage is the top beam above garage door. This is the horizontal heavy wood members right above the garage door inside the garage. Close the garage door, take a ladder and look with your flashlight above that beam. Look at corners in addition as at center.
Many times exterior wood members such as fascia boards, rafter tails, roof sheeting are infested and already damaged by drywoods, however they do not show. To try to find out yourself, take something similar to a stick 1.5-2 feet long. It can be metallic, plastic or wooden. You can use a plastic or wooden broom for that, painting extension or a shovel. Now, you also need a cardboard which is close to the size of a clipboard or regular letter-size paper. You can cut a cardboard from storage boxes. It better be white. Now when you start checking wood members outside, you need to hit them with the stick and see what is dropping to the cardboard. Just keep up the cardboard horizontally right under the wood members you are hitting and see if you see something similar to sawdust coming. You can also pock wood members. If they get damaged, you can patch them with silicon or exterior patching material, unless they will need specialized repairs.
CAUTION! I do not recommend anyone not specialized to check the attic. However, if you decide to do so, make sure you step on on joists, if you step on ceiling you may or will fall down from the attic. Principles is the same, though most drywoods are close to ventilation areas in attic. You might also need to move insulation and pock the wood same way as on exterior.
CAUTION! I do not recommend anyone not specialized to check subarea. However, if you decide to check, there may not be drywoods in subarea but other kind- subterranean termites. Look on foundations and cross foundations for dark vertical lines which may seem at first as if there was a leak on that part. However, if you approach and get closer and touch and see it is truly a dirt which has soil in it, it method others are trailing their way to the house by these tubes. If there are pieces of wood on the soil, take them turn them around and see if it is eaten without being rotten. You should be able to see tunnels going though which again method the other kind – subterraneans are damaging it.
Take screwdriver and check door frames and windows from inside and outside. Also, look carefully other areas inside the house. Look for these pullets similar to sawdust and/or damage from them. Drywood damage almost always has these sawdust-like pullets in it. Subterranean damage always has soil or dirt in it, while fungus damage is in the wood which is wet or used to be wet.
already though your inspection might not be specialized or being close to a specialized inspection, however you might get some results.
Take into consideration that 70-95% of the wood in the house is far away. These wood members include but are not limited to unreachable areas in attic, exterior, garage, subarea where the wood is exposed. Wood covered by stucco, drywall on exterior box of the house and partition walls, etc. observe that termites like more stable temperature and moisture, and while they can access from outside, but to survive they will drill channels though the wood and move into inside the house. These areas, if needed we check with X-Ray portable tolls.