First-time home buying nightmare: home destroyed by termites not caught by inspector

Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 8:05 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Emina Mrkaljevic and Jack Zigler bought their first home in August. They should be settled in with their 3-year-old son Grayson, but instead, they’ve been living a nightmare for the last six months.

The couple, who has been living with Mrkaljevic’s parents for three years saving up for a house, were packed and ready to move to their new home when they decided to paint a few walls before moving in, that’s when they found the termites.

“It wasn’t just termites that were there and gone, this was crawling bugs everywhere,” Mrkaljevic said.

As they got deeper into the home, they discovered the termites were everywhere. However, their home inspector, who inspected the home before it was sold, gave it a clean bill of health.

“The home inspection included the termite inspection for the whole house and everything came back clean,” she said. “He said the carbon monoxide detector needed replaced and that’s it. He said there were no signs of termites in the house, in the garage, in the deck.”

They closed on the house Aug. 9 and got the keys. Mrkaljevic said they wanted to put a few coats of paint on before moving in. But once they started, they found the termites.

“It wasn’t just termites that were there and gone,” she said. “This was crawling bugs. It was disgusting, it was awful.”

She said after that they brought in two exterminators. One told them the damage should have been obvious as there were tell-tale signs of bubbling dry wall and termite tunneling, even outside of the walls. The second terminator told them this was one of the worst homes he’d ever seen as far as termite damage.

“He said the termites had been here for well over a decade,” Mrkaljevic. “It’s just heartbreaking knowing that this is how we’re walking into this as first time home buyers. It’s supposed to be such a joyful time.”

10/11 NOW called the inspection company but the owner declined to comment.

But termites being missed on the inspection wasn’t the only problem. Mrkaljevic said the previous home owners also failed to disclose that there was termite damage before it was sold. Documents she sent to 10/11 NOW back that up. Mrkaljevic said she confronted the owners about it and they told her they had treated for termites in the past.

“Just don’t trust everybody,” Mrkaljevic said. “There are nice people out there, but need to know you can do all of the right things, but also look for yourself and don’t trust everybody’s gut feeling.”

Now, the family is still living with Mrkaljevic’s parents, all three in one room, waiting for tides to turn. Mrkaljevic said they’ve talked with lawyers and looked into a lawsuit but can’t afford it on top of the mortgage of the home and cost of repairs. Mrkaljevic said a contractor gave them a quote to rebuild that cost more than what they paid for the house.

“We’re just stuck,” Mrkaljevic said.

The couple is seeking advice on what steps they should take next. If you have advice to give, you can email Mrkaljevic here:

They also started a GoFundMe to help raise money to pay for repairs or other expenses related to the home. Donate here. They said they’ve received some support so far, including roll-off dumpsters provided by a family friend who owns Vangaurd Rolloffs.

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