If you’re buying a home, a building inspection is crucial to check for structural issues and necessary repairs. Without an inspection from an experienced registered builder, you could end up buying a home with serious structural defects. And that could end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars.
But it’s not just structural problems that will cost you big money. Pests, like termites and wood borers, can do intense damage to a property if left untreated. This is why a pre-purchase pest inspection is just as important as a building inspection.
Termite activity can often go unnoticed unless you know what you’re looking for. Left to do their work, termites can weaken the structural integrity of a property to the point where your only choice may be major repairs, like replacing a roof – an enormous and very expensive job.
And it’s not just termites. Other pests like cockroaches, mice and rats, while easier to remove, can create serious health hazards around the house. While these pests create unsanitary conditions, they are also attracted to unsanitary conditions, which could suggest that there are sanitation issues around the property.
Ensuring you get a pre-purchase pest inspection should be part of your basic due diligence when purchasing a house. So, let’s find out a little more about what these inspections entail.
What they look for
During the inspection, the pest inspector will thoroughly examine the home, the surrounding land and any outbuildings, like sheds or garages, for signs of pests.
Signs of termite activity include:
- Timber damage including dry or crumbling wood, maze-like patterns in timber surfaces, pinpoint-size holes or buckling or squeaky floorboards
- Wood that sounds hollow when tapped or feels soft when pressed
- Damage to plaster like discoloration, drooping, peeling paint or tiny holes
- Stuck windows or doors
- Loose flooring tiles
- Mounds of drywood termite pellets or piles of wings
- Mud tubes around the foundations
The inspector won’t only look for evidence of pests, however. They will also check for conditions that attract pests, like high moisture levels or standing water. These conditions are perfect for mosquitoes to lay their eggs and mould to grow, which can then attract termites.
While termites tend to be the main focus of these inspections, because of the damage they can do to a property, they are not the only target of the inspection. An experienced building inspector will be familiar with what pests are common in your area. For instance, they may know the area is a preferred breeding ground for certain snakes or that there are large ant colonies nearby.
How do they do it
A good pest inspector will be equipped with the latest technology needed to help identify infestations. This can include thermal imaging equipment equipment, moisture meters and borescopes (small flexible cameras that can go into tight spaces). Using this equipment, the pest inspector can thoroughly and easily check the property.
An experienced inspector won’t just rely on technology. As mentioned above, they know exactly what to look, feel, listen and smell for when seeking out signs of infestations.
What you’ll learn
Once the pest inspection is complete, the inspector will provide you with a report. This report will detail the areas they inspected and make note of any areas they were unable to access for whatever reason. During a typical pre-purchase pest inspection, the inspector cannot move things or make any changes to the property. This can mean that they are unable to access vital areas like the underfloor area or the roof cavity. However, in most cases the technology they use can help them to access these areas.
The report will outline if any pests were found and document the extent of the damage. It will also outline if there is any evidence of previous infestations or damage and will identify any areas at high risk of future infestation.
Finally, the report will outline what should be done. This will include recommendations for removing common pests and pest-proofing against return infestation. Some inspectors will also provide quotes for the necessary repairs.
What to do with the information
Once you’ve received the pre-purchase pest inspection report, you will have detailed information about any pest infestations and the extent of any damage. How you use this information is up to you. You can ask the vendor to pay for the pest treatment and make the necessary repairs before making your offer. You can use the information as leverage during negotiations. Or, if the damage is too severe, you can walk away from the purchase altogether.
So, if you’re buying a house, don’t forget that a pest inspection is just as important as a building inspection. Pests can be easily overlooked but do a lot of damage to a house and its inhabitants.