Nearly every home inspection I perform includes a pest inspection. Believe it or not, lenders don’t require home inspections (although everyone buying a home should certainly have it done), but they often do require a pest inspection – especially if you are getting an FHA or VA loan.
The natural question that enters every buyer’s mind is, “What types of ‘pests’ is the inspector looking for?” Is it any and every possible type of pest or only certain types? This is an important question and one you should know the answer to before your pest inspection takes place.
While there are countless potential pests that could be present in any home, it is only wood-destroying pests that we inspectors are looking for and concerned about. This is because these are the pests that can cause substantial damage to a home and a lot of money in repairs. In fact, termites alone cause billions of dollars worth of damage every year!
Some of the most common wood-destroying organisms are termites, powderpost beetles, carpenter ants, and carpenter bees. Depending on what region you live in, you may be at a greater risk for having problems with certain wood-destroying insects, and your inspector should be familiar with the species most prevalent in your area. For example, if you live in the South you have a greater risk of having a termite infestation than if you live in the North, but northern homeowners can certainly still have termite problems.
Many pests exist in nearly every home, but most are not wood-destroying. Spiders, bees, flies, mice and centipedes, for example, can be found in or near most homes, but these pests do not substantially damage structure and are, therefore, not within the scope of a typical pest inspection. Without knowing this, you may feel your inspector didn’t do his or her job when your pest inspection report comes back clean and you move in only to find spider webs and mouse droppings in the house and a bee hive being constructed at the overhang of your roof peak.
We live in a world of abundant and diverse species, and there is unfortunately no way to rid any house of any and all pests. As a homeowner, your main concern in terms of your home’s integrity and your investment should be the wood-destroying organisms that an inspection attempts to discover. If your pest inspection report recommends further evaluation and/or treatment, be sure to take action immediately so your house doesn’t sustain substantial and costly damage, and don’t be upset with your inspector for not reporting every single “pest” that may be present.
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