What is a pest inspection?
A pre-purchase pest inspection is the examination of a property for the presence of pests and termites.
The inspector is not just looking for termites, but also other timber pests like borers and wood decay fungi.
It is recommended a pre-settlement inspection be done to avoid nasty surprises after you’ve bought a property.
Please note that a pre-purchase pest inspection is not the same as a routine pest inspection, and it is not a substitute for each other.
However, Australia’s climate and environment are perfect conditions for pests and termites to thrive in within a short period of time and can do major damage to your property.
A pre-purchase pest inspection involves a thorough inspection of all the accessible interior and exterior areas of the property including:
- All the rooms of the property
- Retaining walls
- Under-floor space
- Roof void and exterior
- Roof space
- All accessible timber
- Garden shed
- Driveways and paths
Downloadable pest inspection checklist
We’re created a Pest Inspection Checklist that you can download to help you make your home buying decision.
Please note that this pest inspection checklist is not a substitute for an inspection done by a professional.
Why is it important?
Think of a pest inspection as a small investment. It is important to do a proper property inspection before you buy or sell a property.
You do not want to live in the horror of finding out that termites have been eating away the walls of your home.
Pest inspections will help you get:
- A clearer picture of the property, as sellers tend to conceal and hide minor and major defects of their property. This might give you negotiating power to haggle the prices or demand that the defects are fixed before you move in, at no expense to you.
- Information on any defects and repairs that are needed and rectify them before they become severe, which will affect the structural integrity of the building.
- Higher resale value of your property. As a seller, you can make the necessary repairs and preventive measures to ensure the property is risk-free from pests and termites.
How is the inspection done?
The pest inspector will first examine the exterior of the property and then proceed towards the subfloor areas, and then the interior of the property and its roof void.
The inspector will also check any property extension, pergolas, gardens, the external foundation of walls, etc.
There are some telltale signs that an inspector will look at:
- Ripples in the paint layer.
- The appearance of dirt and mud in the corners of rooms or around skirting boards.
- Visible holes made by beetles, borers whose larvae live and feed within the timber.
- Animal droppings from rodents of bed bugs.
- Excavated wood inside and outside the property.
- Damaged furniture, gnawing marks or droppings.
- Damp patches in the ceiling that indicates damage or pipes.
- Termite muds on the foundation or within building structures.
- Even old and abandoned termite muds can be active again.
- The residue to termite mudding, faecal spotting, etc.
- Raised timber or separated fibres are a sign of timber delignification.
- Any electrical issues and faulty plugs caused by termites nesting within walls.
- Visible damage to timber or plaster.
Pest inspectors use non-invasive to find out the presence of pests and termites, and these include:
- Thermal imaging cameras to locate termite and nest activity.
- A moisture meter to assess the moisture level within the walls as pests thrive in moisture.
- A radar detection unit to track live termites and the location of its nest.
- Borescopes to know where ants are living and damages caused.
- If the property is on auction, do it before auction day as there is no cooling-off period. You don’t want to bid on a home that is substandard and riddled with problems. You do not have an option to negotiate down prices once you’ve bid on the auction.
- Properties on private sale have a cooling-off period, and you can do it then. However, the cooling-off period may not provide sufficient time for a report to be generated and it might be too late to negotiate on prices if problems are uncovered.
- It might not always be possible to get an inspection done before you enter into a contract, especially for properties that are in high demand. For this situation, have a clause in your contract that it is “subject to building and pest inspection.”
- Ensure the inspector has full access to the property.
- There have been instances where the homeowner wasn’t present – which means the inspector does not have access to it. If the inspector cannot thoroughly inspect the property due to lack of access, then the inspection is incomplete.
- Make sure the inspector has access to all areas, including yard, roof, rooms, voids, subfloors, areas beneath the property, etc.
- Let the inspector know of any extension or renovation done on the property.
- Keep your pets restrained.
- Keep your gates unlocked.
- Moisture attracts termites. Air conditioning drip tubes against the sides of homes must be plumbed into a drain and not into the soil. The same goes for the hot water system.
- The air conditioning tube should not be dumping water into the brickwork.
- Make sure there are no unwanted stored timbers or waste products.
- Remove any timbers, crates, firewoods, etc. that are placed against the side of the house or below it.
- Firewood is contaminated with pests upon delivery so it’s not a good idea to have it placed against the wall.
- Place firewood, furniture, stored timbers above the ground.
- A Diploma of Building Surveying, Building & Construction or equivalent.
- Whether he/she is registered as a builder, architect or engineer.
- If there is professional indemnity insurance.
- Timber pests by nature are secretive and difficult to locate, and usually concealed by linings and claddings of buildings that cannot be detected without intrusive techniques (which the property owner might now allow)
- The presence of timber pests can only be determined after frequent inspections over a time period.
- Timber pests are known to infect properties in a short time span. The report will not be conclusive that the property is free from timber pests or pests since the inspector is only looking at the property at the time of inspection.
- The inspection cannot determine the extent of the termite damage unless intrusive techniques are used.
- The inspection cannot determine how severe the damage caused by the termite pests, especially when it comes to structural damage caused by termites. This can only be determined by a qualified structural engineer.
- The code of practice does not necessitate the use of special intrusive tools that cause damage to the property.
- Since most properties are already furnished when an inspection happens, this could limit the scope of the inspection.
- The occupants are not always present during an inspection, especially for houses in an auction, so there could be concealment work done prior to inspection.
- Difficult to find pests like dry wood termites, etc require invasive techniques where the inspector will check the walls and roofs – working at heights, so specialist equipment is required.
- Timber pests do not include bed bugs, rodents, cockroaches, fleas, rodents, etc, as it is not in the scope of the Code of Practice.
The pest inspection will usually take between 1 hour or 2 hours, but this will depend on the size of your house, the number of rooms, location, etc.
When do you get an inspection done?
A pest inspection should ideally be done before you buy or sell a property.
It is recommended that the property is inspected 2 to 3 days before settlement and ensure the property is in the same condition it was in as the time you sign the contract.
A property vendor is not under any obligation to disclose building faults due to pests infestation.
Therefore, it is the buyer’s responsibility to make sure pest and building inspections are done, if not you will accept all the undisclosed faults and have to accept the property as it is.
How much does it cost?
A termite inspection can cost anywhere between $100 to $350.
In most cases, a termite inspection usually comes bundled together with a pre-purchase building inspection.
It’s recommended that you get a termite inspection every two years, which would save you between $1,000 to $4,000 in fumigation costs.
How do you prepare a property for a pest inspection?
Here are some things you can do to ensure the pest inspector can do his/her job without any hindrance.
How to choose a pest inspector?
To choose a pest inspector, look for:
Limitations of pest inspection
Getting a pest inspection will help uncover costly defects that could save you thousands in repairs and renovations.
If you’re thinking of buying or selling a property, talk to us.
We can help you find a home loan that best suits your needs.
Give us a call on 1300 889 743 or fill in our free assessment form.