Pest Inspection FAQs
Here's what people are asking about pest inspection. Can't find an answer to your question? Ask an expert
Pest Inspection Answers
- What does a pest inspector do?
An experienced inspector will make a thorough investigation of the structure (usually starting with the basement or foundation and exterior of the house) to make sure that no structural wood is in contact with the soil.
Pest inspectors, who are state licensed and regulated, will look not just for evidence of termites (droppings around windowsills, wood damage, cellulose shavings on the soil near the foundation, termite tubes and tunneling in wooden beams), but also for signs of mold, fungus, wood decay, dry rot, water puddling and leak damage.
The inspector files a written report describing his findings with the escrow or closing agent usually within five to seven business days. (A copy is also filed with the state inspection board and is available to the public for two years.) The report recommends remedial work, preventive measures required to reduce future incidents and it usually includes cost estimates. See a sample report.
- My termite estimates vary a lot. How do I choose?
It's a good idea to get several estimates. First of all, rule out any company that bids without inspecting your property. And, don't consider companies that use scare tactics or rush you to make a decision. Termites can do a lot of damage, but they work slowly. It's okay to take time to make the right decision.
You should also know that termite companies must use treatments that are state-approved. No one company has a "magic" treatment that works better than another.
- How much does a pest/termite inspection cost?
A standard pest/termite inspection can cost between $75 and $500 depending on the size and age of the property. The price of remedying any problems depends on the scope of the damage and type of treatment required. Many inspectors will not charge for the initial inspection, expecting that they will be hired to perform the remedial work.
- Who pays for the inspection?
Typically, the buyer pays for the initial pest inspection as part of the closing costs. The seller pays for any repair work, unless both parties negotiate a different arrangement before opening escrow and note it in the purchase agreement.
- How do I know if my house has termites?
Check the surface of your foundation and around sills and joists for mud tubes. These are hollow, pencil-width tubes that termites use for shelter. Also check for an abundance of insect wings, especially between the months of March and May, when swarming termites shed them.
Termite droppings are another clue. These are small, sand-sized granules the color of sawdust scattered on the ground. For example, if you have exposed wooden rafters in your garage, look at the floor area directly below for these granules. Wood that has been hallowed out along the grain is also a sign of termites in action.
- Can I treat my termite problem myself?
If you have a termite infestation, treating it yourself is not recommended. Ridding a home of termites requires special skills, including an understanding of building construction. Many areas where termites may enter are hidden and difficult to access. Termite control also requires specialized equipment such as masonry drills, pumps, large-capacity tanks, and soil treatment rods. A typical treatment may involve hundreds of gallons of a liquid pesticide, known as a termiticide, injected into the ground near the foundation, under concrete slabs, and inside foundation walls.
- When is a termite inspection ordered?
Whether or not this is required varies by state, but a termite inspection is usually ordered when an escrow account has been opened at the beginning of the closing process. Work to correct problems does not start until the seller signs an authorization form. The inspection service will ask for the escrow file number and include it in his report.