The Importance of a Termite Inspection

When you buy a home, no matter the age of the property, you may be required to have a termite inspection performed. On a newer home especially, it may seem an unnecessary inspection, but it is more important than you might realize. However, even a new house can be attacked by termites within days of completion. A professionally conducted termite inspection can make or break a transaction and can give valuable insight into the condition of a property.

What Is A Termite Inspection?

A termite inspection is a visual inspection performed by a professional. And while the inspection is commonly termed as a “Termite Inspection,” it is in actuality a “Structural Pest Control Inspection.” This is because the professional examines the easily accessible areas of a property looking for evidence of all wood-destroying organisms and insects. These organisms and insects may include ants, fungus and other bugs in addition to the termites. The complete scope of the inspection depends on your state and local codes. Many states use the NPCA-1 Wood Destroying Insect Infestation Inspection Report. This report limits the inspection to termites, carpenter bees, carpenter ants and wood-boring beetles.

The inspector will look at the entire interior of a home, including any basements or crawlspaces. In certain regions, the inspector may access the attic and examine the area for Drywood termites. The exterior of the home will also be inspected. However, it is in the darker recesses of the property that the inspector will most likely be able to locate any active infestations. Termites have a tendency to shy away from bright lights and open air. They prefer to remain underground or nestled within the “safety” of wood elements.

The average inspection takes less than one hour. Depending on the size and condition of the property, the inspection may take place within 30 to 45 minutes. If no evidence of infestation is found, then you will receive a written certification stating as such. However, if there is evidence of infestation, the property will have to be treated in order to prevent any further damage. And if the damage threatens the very structure of the home, additional repairs will be required.

Some items a report will note:

– Observed damage (must be treated)

– Evidence of past treatment (be aware of the warranty on the treatment incase of future damage)
– Wood to Earth contact (must be corrected, i.e. wood siding touching ground, wood fence touching ground and touching side of house)

– Excessive cellulose debris

– Excessive moisture (must be corrected, i.e. leaky pipe)

– Inaccessible areas

Where Termites Can Be Found

Termites have been found throughout the U.S. Don’t assume that because you live in a cold climate you couldn’t possibly have a termite problem. Termites have been found in Alaska! While cold weather may slow the pests down, it does not kill them off.

Why Termite Inspections Are Required

In order to purchase a home, lenders require an official Wood Destroying Insect Inspection on government loans such as FHA and VA loans. The inspection is not required on conventional loans unless the appraiser notes there is wood-to-earth contact. The lender is trying to determine whether the property is structurally sound. Since termites and other wood-destroying insects and organisms can cause thousands of dollars in damage, the lender wants to make sure that the property is in a condition worthy to finance.

On a new build, the plans and specs will show if a soil treatment has been performed. Again, this treatment is a requirement on government loans, and depending on lending guidelines, with other loans as well. The lender will ask to see that the soil treatment has been done in place of a termite inspection. The builder takes care of this soil treatment.

How A Homeowner Can Be Prepared for an Inspection

There are several things a homeowner can do to make the inspection a bit easier on the professional. In the interior of the home, the homeowner can:
– Remove items under the kitchen and bathroom sinks
– Move items away from the garage walls, giving at least a two feet space to the inspector
– Make sure the attic and crawlspace openings are accessible to the inspector

Outside of the home, there may be some clean-up needed. Make sure:
– All wood is placed away from the foundation and walls of the home
– Remove any soil that is higher than the siding of the home
– Keep plants that are close to the exterior walls trimmed back
– Remove all dead plants and debris from around the outside of the home

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