What You Should Expect From A Pest Inspection
Miranda Crace5-Minute Read
April 15, 2021
Whether you’re dealing with a family of mice or have termites burrowing beneath your floorboards, pests are never a welcome guest. They may seem like a minor nuisance, but pest-related damages could ultimately cost you thousands of dollars in repairs.
Pest inspections are an effective way for buyers and sellers to get the entire picture of a property’s pest status. Regular home inspections provide a broad survey of a home’s condition, but general inspectors aren’t responsible for checking for active infestations, pest-rotted wood or other telltale signs of unwanted creatures.
If you suspect insect damage or an infestation in a house you’re buying or selling, you may find it well worth your time to consult a pest specialist. Here’s what you need to know before you hire a pest inspector.
What’s Included In A Pest Inspection?
Pest inspections normally include a full sweep of a home’s interior and exterior, with special attention paid to areas that are most likely to attract unwanted household critters. Crawl spaces, basements, attics and garages will likely receive additional scrutiny from pest inspectors, along with any other glaring entry points like holes in the walls or issues with the foundation.
However, there are plenty of other red flags that might go unnoticed to the untrained eye. Damaged wood, which is easily mistaken for wet or dry rot, could be caused by wood-destroying insects like termites and carpenter bees. Small collections of insect droppings often point to active pest colonies, while gnawing marks on furniture could be signs of mice and rats.
The climate of the area where you live can give inspectors an even better idea of the creatures most likely to make a nest in your home. Moisture, for example, attracts centipedes, ants and cockroaches, which means that these bugs are more likely to infest homes in damp environments.
What Types Of Pests Are Covered?
Pest inspectors search for any of the following as they make their way through a home:
- Dampwood and drywood termites
- Bed bugs
- Carpenter ants
- Carpenter bees
- Wood-destroying beetles
- Stinging insects
Depending on where you live, your inspection might cover pests that are native to your region. As an example, it’s not unusual for home buyers and sellers in the Southwest to add rattlesnakes and scorpions to their pest inspection checklist.
How Long Do Pest Inspections Take?
Pest inspections usually won’t take longer than 30 minutes to an hour. However, your inspection could take much longer depending on the severity of the damage to the home in question. The more issues your inspector identifies, the longer the appointment could take.
Should You Conduct A Pest Control Inspection Yourself?
Although you might feel confident in your ability to notice the effects of a pest infestation, the average homeowner isn’t equipped to diagnose all of a home’s potential pest issues before closing on the home.
Not only are trained pest inspectors able to spot signs of an infestation, but they also have experience assessing pest damages within the context of a real estate transaction. Even more importantly, professional inspectors have all the proper equipment needed to safely probe sites that are riddled with decaying wood or other structural weaknesses.
That being said, you might find it most effective to contract separate companies to conduct the pest inspection and extermination. This prevents your inspector from exaggerating the total work required during their inspection in order to line up their next extermination gig.
Are Insect Inspections Required?
Under certain circumstances, you might be required to have a pest inspection before moving into a home. Individual states or counties may require pest inspections prior to moving in, and your mortgage lender could stipulate that the property receives a pest inspection before you’re approved.
VA loans, as an example, call for pest inspections in most states, particularly in areas that are most susceptible to termite infestations and termite damage.
However, even if you aren’t legally obligated to have a termite inspection, consulting a pest specialist might still be worth your time and effort. That especially holds true for home insurance policyholders whose policies do not cover pest infestation removals or damages caused by pests.
How Much Does A Home Pest Inspection Cost?
On top of the other costs of a home inspection, most pest inspectors will charge you around $100 for their services, though this can vary depending on the company you hire. If you’re shopping for the cheapest option, consider asking your real estate agent if they know where to find the most competitive prices.
Of course, there’s a chance that you won’t have to pay anything to have the home inspected if your buyer or seller foots the bill. Since both parties can benefit from an inspection, you can negotiate which person will be responsible for paying. Sellers might include a pest inspection in their seller concessions to make the offer more appealing to potential buyers. In situations where the seller hasn’t already paid for an inspection, the buyer often requests one to ensure they’re purchasing a solid investment.
What’s Included In A Pest Report?
Once your inspection is complete, you should receive a pest inspection report, which details the current conditions of the property you’re buying or selling. The report will list any issues with the property and recommendations for repairing them. This could include a one-time visit from an exterminator or a long-term plan for restoring the home after substantial damages.
If the house is in very bad condition, your report may also suggest further inspection of the most damaged areas, which can help ensure that larger problems are fully addressed before you transfer the title and deed.
The Bottom Line: Is A Pest Inspection Worth It?
Even if you aren’t required to inspect your home for pests, insect inspections are usually worth the effort for individuals on both sides of a real estate transaction. Sellers can preemptively avoid any legal issues down the line that are caused by selling a home overrun with pests, while buyers can become aware of any pest-related issues before they make a purchase.
Ready to look for a home? If you’re starting the home buying journey but aren’t sure whether or not you should have a pest inspection, connect with a real estate agent to get an expert opinion on your local market.
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