Buyers BewareDr. Jim Fredericks
Monday, March 18, 2013
The importance of a wood-boring pest inspection when buying a
prospective buyers tour a new home, they tend to focus on the
cosmetic updates they’ll need to make if they purchase the house.
From outdated fixtures and appliances to unappealing paint colors
or landscaping, buyers often initially measure a home’s value by
its curb appeal, or lack thereof. What they may not consider are
the potentially serious issues lurking beneath the surface, such as
termites and other
wood-destroying insects that can silently consume a home’s wood and
cause major property damage.
Termites cause more than
$5 billion in property damage each year, and are known as
“silent destroyers” because of their ability to chew through wood,
flooring and even wallpaper undetected. Unless a buyer knows what
to look for, termites can be hard to find with the naked eye and
therefore it could take three to eight years before the signs of an
infestation are apparent. To avoid getting stuck with extensive
damage that is typically not covered by homeowners’ insurance,
buyers should always request a wood-boring pest inspection before
finalizing the purchase of a home.
A termite or wood-destroying insect inspection is different from
a standard home inspection that assesses the condition of the
physical structure and systems of a home from the roof to the
foundation. While buyers should absolutely be sure to schedule a
standard home inspection before closing, they should also consider
a specific termite inspection by a licensed pest professional.
These inspections usually last about an hour, during which the
termite management specialist will probe the home from the attic or
crawl space to the basement for telltale signs of termite damage,
infestation and conditions conducive to infestations, such as
cracks, crevices and moisture. Afterwards, the inspector will issue
a report and if an infestation has been found, an estimate of the
cost to remediate the situation.
When purchasing a home, it is always best to know exactly what
one is getting into ahead of time. By proactively scheduling a
termite inspection, buyers can feel confident that they have all
the facts before making such a big decision. Any repairs that are
needed could also be negotiated with the seller prior to
After buying a home, homeowners should consider scheduling a
professional inspection annually, or at least once every 3-5 years,
according to the American Society of Home Inspectors. Also, keep
the following termite prevention tips in mind:
- Keep it dry: Repair
leaking faucets, water pipes and AC units which are on the outside
of the home. Keep basements, attics and crawl spaces well
ventilated and dry. Direct water away from your house through
properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks.
- Avoid providing
harborage: Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the
house and 5 inches off the ground. Keep mulch at least 15 inches
from the foundation.
- Know the signs: Routinely
inspect the foundation of your home for signs of mud
tubes (used by termites to reach a food source), cracked or
bubbling paint and wood that sounds hollow when tapped. Monitor all
exterior areas of wood, including windows, doorframes and skirting
boards for any noticeable changes.
A home is often the single largest investment a person will ever
make. Homebuyers should arm themselves with as much information as
possible about the existing home so they can make informed
decisions for their families.
If you suspect a
termite infestation, or to have your home properly inspected
for termites, visit our Find a Pro page to
find a pest control professional in your area.