Real Estate

Residential Insect and Pest Reports

Buying a home is probably one of the biggest (if not the biggest) investments of your life. For that reason, you've wisely chosen to have a home inspection done to help protect you against costly repairs in the future, such as repairing cracked foundation walls.

But, most home inspections don't include inspections for insects and pests that could pose serious threats to the stability of the home, particularly termites and other insects that destroy wood, like wood-boring beetles and carpenter ants. And, what about other pests, like rats and mice?

In most states, you'll have to arrange for a separate inspection, so, it's a good idea to know some things about how pest and insect reports and inspections work.

Licensing for Insect & Pest Inspectors

Like home inspectors, there are only a few states that require pest and insect inspectors to be licensed. In such states, a home inspector can't perform an inspection for termites and other pests unless he or she has a license to do so. Of course, if your inspector is properly licensed, don't be surprised if there's an extra charge for the home and insect inspections.

In states that require a license, such as California, Washington, and Florida, there are educational, training, and testing requirements, which help to ensure that the inspector you choose is qualified and his or report is reliable.

In addition, states that require licensure typically have a way for homeowners to check the status of an inspector's license, complaints made against the inspector, and the results of recent inspections of homes and property. These services are often provided online via a state's website or by mail.

In states that don't require inspectors to be licensed, make certain that the inspector you choose has some education, training, or experience in dealing with insects and pests in residential properties. Experienced home builders and contractors are good resources. Also, consider contacting a well-known exterminating company. They will often perform inspections for home buyers for little or no cost.

The Inspection

The main goal of this inspection is to discover the existence insects and pests that could threaten the structural integrity of the home. In most instances, the focus is on insects and pests that eat or destroy wood: termites, wood-boring beetles and carpenter ants, for example.

The inspection report should include things like:

  • If no infestation was found, a statement to that effect
  • If an infestation was found, a detailed description of the infestation and recommendations for eradicating or fixing the problem
  • Details of any conditions that indicate that an infestation had occurred in the past and a statement that the past infestation has not recurred, that is, the past infestation was eradicated and has not returned
  • A description of any condition that's likely to lead to an infestation in the future, such as high moisture levels in the basement or attic and poor grading around the home, as well as recommendations for fixing any such problem

Reputable inspectors will "certify" or guarantee their inspections for a certain amount of time, usually one or two years. If an inspector certifies that there's no infestation, but an infestation happens within that time period, the inspector could be required to fix the problem. This varies by state and inspection companies, so be sure to check the laws in your area, or ask a prospective inspector about certification, before you hire one.

It is common for buyers to condition their offer to buy the house on the finding that the house is not infested. If an infestation is found, the buyer then has the opportunity to cancel or terminate the sale, ask the seller to fix the problem, or ask for a reduction in the sales price to cover the cost of fixing the problem.

Required Inspections and Costs

Like home inspections, there's no law requiring you to get an insect and pest inspection, but it's just the smart thing to do, considering the investment you're making in the house. In addition, if you're financing the purchase through a bank or other lender, like a mortgage company, it's likely that the lender will require an inspection to protect its interest. If you fail to make your mortgage payments and the home is infested with termites, it's unlikely the bank will be able to sell the house for enough money to pay off your mortgage debt.

Usually, the buyer pays for the inspection, and it's typically included in your closing costs associated with your mortgage. But, of course, you and the seller can negotiate this and agree that the seller will pay all, some, or none of the cost. Be certain that your sales contract states specifically who will pay for this inspection.

The actual cost of the inspection depends on where the home is located and its size and age, but in general you can expect to pay between $ 75 and $ 150 for an inspection.

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