Structural diagnosis and repair could very well be the most important assessment that one can make on a house or building when it comes to resolving termite problems, and that is precisely what Sky Net Termite does. So in this review, we evaluate our experiences with this company, which took place over a couple of major repairs (encompassing a handful of smaller jobs along the way) spanning a period of 3 months.
We’ve had past experiences where termite companies have made “fixes” to the house before tenting, but then years later, we’d come to realize that their work was nothing more than cosmetic. In most cases, those “fixes” turned out to do more harm than good so it was like we paid someone to make the problem worse!
I have to believe that our termite control misfortunes with regard to structural repairs weren’t unique, and the silver lining is that it might have sensitized us more to this type of work. Yet at the same time, it’s not easy to find real structural repair contractors in the termite industry because what kind of search term would bring them up and not get lost in the noise of larger extermination companies?
In this light, we’ve been fortunate to have encountered Sky Net Termite while doing our due diligence at finding a contractor to address our termite situation at our house. Sky Net stood out to us because they not only identified and proposed solutions to eradicate termites (all of the candidates did that), but they tackled the problem with an emphasis on doing real, credible (not cosmetic) structural repairs before even getting into fumigation and treatment.
Who Is Sky Net Termite?
Sky Net Termite is a Lakewood, California-based termite control company started by Kenny Bloemhof, who is pretty much the one-man show.
He named the company after the Terminator movies, especially in the context of how the robots could see through walls.
And this is how Kenny envisions the manner in which his work provides value to homeowners, because he helps to uncover issues that most people can’t see as they’re typically hidden from view.
He is even able to uncover things that most termite companies miss because his focus on woodworking as it pertains to restoring structural integrity issues (after termite infestations have been uncovered) enables him to perform forensics on the house or building.
This, in turn, enables him to get to the heart of what caused the termite problems in the first place whether it’s a leak, poor worksmanship or design, poor water (and soil) management, poor landscaping practices, neglect, etc.
Sometimes he has help from his cousin Paul, which we’ve been fortunate to have on our jobs since Paul also has other maritime commitments that can last for several months.
Why Hire Sky Net Termite?
Over the jobs that we’ve hired Sky Net Termite for, I’ve managed to pinpoint the following reasons why we felt comfortable with our decision to work with them.
Sky Net Termite Gave Me a Deeper, More Comprehensive View of the Extent of Termite Damage
When Kenny works on a job, he starts by removing bad wood, which he intends to replace with newer, stronger wood.
During this process, this is when he uncovers the hidden problems that are often unseen because they’ve been concealed by walls, blocks, or other things that you wouldn’t even suspect until you “peel back the onion”, so-to-speak.
This is where our experience with prior termite companies offering to do repairs have shortchanged us by making cosmetic (or even destructive) “repairs” to essentially cover up the deeper problems (possibly to sow the seeds of repeat business to the unwary homeowner).
Only with this perspective do we finally understand the full extent of termite damage in that infested area, and only then can we make an assessment and decision on what to do next.
Unfortunately, this is also where scope creep can occur as there’s unforeseen work that wasn’t initially estimated for that can cause unexpected expenses and impacts to schedule.
Sky Net Termite Provides Preventative Termite Treatments
Most termite control companies are content to just exterminate the pests, but very little (if anything) is done as far as prevention is concerned.
Therefore, the next swarm and would-be colony of termites can already start taking hold just a few months after fumigation.
However, Sky Net Termite did a few things for us concerning prevention, which further gave us confidence in the work that they do.
First, Kenny treats his thicker lumber that acts as supports (e.g. beams and rafters) by soaking them in bora care (a borate solution that makes wood less palatable as food for termites) before priming.
Second, Kenny has also helped us spray bora care on raw wood such as those found in the attic as well as the garage without drywall or plywood panels.
Finally, Kenny has also helped us to treat for subterranean termites by pouring Termidor into trenches that he dug out in strategic spots around the house.
This is something that needs to be done because fumigation doesn’t account for termite colonies that live beneath the ground where the gas can’t penetrate during tenting.
Sky Net Termite Taught Me About Termites and the Structure of the House
Kenny has pretty much taught me everything that I know about the termite threat to our house and our rental home.
In my experience, not many contractors are willing to do that, but Kenny has been freely sharing his knowledge with me on the job so that I can make an informed decision whenever we would get to a decision point during the job.
Indeed, he taught me how “sistering” rafters instead of replacing an entire rafter beam can save on material and labor costs if the termite damage was localized to just the end of the beam.
He also taught me how some prior contractors have taken shortcuts by cutting off rafters and putting fake ones in their place, which in turn, undermined the overall structure and caused further problems down the line.
Similarly, he also taught me about fake outlooks in addition to fake rafters when it comes to the roof of the house imposing greater load on the building’s corners.
Come to think of it, if I didn’t have Kenny’s cooperation in indulging me about my thirst for knowledge to better arm myself about homeownership issues like termites and structural integrity, then I wouldn’t have been as empowered as I was to even start the Homeowner Headaches blog.
Sky Net Termite Provides a Flexible Approach to Structural Restoration
Kenny takes a surgical approach to restoring the structural integrity of a home or building, which allows him to get creative with solutions that not only save money but also time.
And he manages to do this without compromising on the all-important functionality concerning structural integrity.
In fact, on the first job that we hired Sky Net for, we had just finished a re-roof job and then realized that we needed to fix the termite problem (which was brought to our attention only after the shingles were removed).
Still, Kenny was able to restore most of the structural integrity of the house given the circumstances.
On a second job that we hired Sky Net for, he made extensive repairs to the rafters, beams, shiplap, and fascia after years of shoddy workmanship caused them damage.
On that job, we originally thought we could get away with localized roof repair, but after he unveiled more issues, we ultimately decided to reroof the whole house.
Kenny’s work not only allowed us to make that informed decision, but he also completed his job despite the changing circumstances.
Sky Net Termite is Fair and Honest
In our experiences, I felt that Kenny’s open and honest communication about the issues that emerge and what can be done about them to be refreshing (albeit uncomfortable when you know the truth means bleeding more money and time).
Nevertheless, I didn’t get the feeling that he was trying to upsell or overcharge us for his work.
Instead, I felt like we were getting the true cost of what it would take to properly resolve structural problems as they pertain to termites, and the Yelp reviews so far seem to agree.
In addition, even for jobs that weren’t woodworking-related per se, Kenny charged us half the amount that larger extermination companies would have charged us for subterranean termite treatment.
His repair work also would have saved us money had we punted that work to a dedicated roofing company that takes a more blunt remove-and-replace (as opposed to surgical) approach to wood replacement.
Where Can Sky Net Termite Make Improvements?
Even though Sky Net has done well in terms of servicing our home and our rental, I noticed a few things that perhaps can be improved going forward.
Kenny Needs Help
First, it seems that Kenny could definitely use some help because he tends to get pulled in different directions by the various jobs that he has to manage.
It’s a trap that I’ve seen many contractors get into, and it’s probably due to the uncertainty of work, which makes it hard to turn down a job when you feel like the one you’re working on currently should be wrapping up until you run into unexpected scope creep (which often happens in this line of work).
In addition, Kenny manages his own office affairs (i.e. scheduling, billing, invoices, communication, etc.), and that takes away from him doing his field work. The construction site is where he best applies his skill and expertise, and that in turn is where he provides his clients the most value.
I know he’s trying to get his family more involved with helping with the administrative tasks, and I’m hoping that he succeeds so he can better balance between his jobs as well as his own work-life balance.
Kenny Can Easily Get Sidetracked
Second, I’ve noticed that Kenny can easily get sidetracked whether it’s answering his phone from another job or we get into a socializing tangent (some of which is probably my fault since I don’t mind shooting the breeze if it makes the workday go by more easily or if he’s sharing knowledge with me).
Perhaps to improve on his focus, it might be better for Kenny to prioritize his tasks first and then tend to other matters when he gets to a breakpoint or a decent stopping point.
He can also let people know if he’s in the middle of something and can tell people to call back or hold their thoughts until he gets past something that requires his focus.
That said, if something unexpected does come up on his end (whether work-related or personal), he can communicate those things as soon as possible, especially since it seemed like my wife was caught off guard by some of these emergent issues that ultimately impacted our execution schedule.
Nevertheless, you can tell Kenny is into what he does and he doesn’t mind sharing his expertise, but there’s a fine balance between maintaining focus and tending to other matters versus losing that focus and slowing down the job.
It’s something that I think can be improved upon, but I still like for him to remain sociable and open with his communication.
Heck, I’ve managed to soak up quite a bit of knowledge from him, which made me a more informed (and better) homeowner, and I hope others can continue to benefit from his generosity in his time and knowledge sharing.
Adhering to the Schedule
On the first job that we hired Kenny for, schedule wasn’t as much of an issue since it was work done after re-roofing. Normally you shouldn’t do things this way, but we saw firsthand how he performed surgery on the house and managed to repair the structure without messing with the new roof.
However, on the second job (for a rental house), we had hard deadlines in order to meet a scheduled fumigation and subsequent paint job as well as a re-roofing job.
It was a job that certainly strained his work-life balance and our concerns about whether the entire repair work on the rental would be a success or not given the pre-coordination that was necessary to manage so many moving parts.
Since scope creep is an inevitable part of his line of work (since you never know what’s hiding behind the walls or under the roof), perhaps he could start by getting rid of the bad wood for all the contractually agreed upon infested areas first before getting into the repairs.
That way, he can make a more complete assessment of the work scope up front and then present the homeowner with options as to how much scope can be addressed and within how much time.
On our rental job that tested our working relationship, he went from one section of the house to another in a more serial manner so the scope creep (especially at the front of that rental house) became unpleasant surprises in the middle of his work instead of at the beginning.
I think this change in workflow to complete the “demo” up front (though it would make things messier and that mess would persist for much longer) would have brought all the information to light, and then we would have been better equipped to handle any emerging issues instead of being blindsided by them.
Final Thoughts / Conclusion
The bottom line is that Sky Net Termite’s bread-and-butter is restoring the structural integrity of a home or building after it had been compromised by termites.
This is a service that most termite control companies don’t address well, and in our experiences, they have made things worse!
The surgical approach that Kenny takes to doing this kind of structural repair allows him to work even under a new roof, which is a testament to his talent and creativity.
But more importantly, his approach uncovers hidden issues that otherwise could be covered up or improperly handled, and that gives the homeowner tremendous insight into what’s really going on with the property.
In fact, I think if it wasn’t for Sky Net Termite, we wouldn’t have been in the forward-leaning position we’re in now where we know a lot more about the issues regarding our home and rental than we ever did before, and we’re in better position to make priority calls on our list of issues to attend to.
For that reason (among many others), I highly recommend Sky Net Termite for termite-related issues, especially in regards to structural integrity and figuring out how to proceed even after his job is done.
They were certainly the most pivotal contractor on our plethora of major repair jobs, and that’s why we’re also quite thankful that we had him on our side, especially when we were getting conflicting advice or clashing repairs between the various contractors.