Does a recent termite company inspection sticker mean there are no termites?
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
When you reach into the pocket of a new pair of jeans and find a slip of paper that says “INSPECTED BY #27,” it means that they were checked for defects and found to be satisfactory before leaving the factory. But the sticker for an inspection by a pest control company only indicates that the house was inspected. It notes the date of the inspection and name of the inspector, along with contact information for the company, but the sticker does not mean that the house was certified to be free of termites.
Termite inspection is regulated by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and the findings of the inspection are required to be reported to a homebuyer on their standard form #13645, which is where you would find out if any evidence of termites found was found by the inspector. Other states have similar required standard forms.
A few years ago we received a phone call from an irate new homeowner in Plantation Key, telling us that they had just bought a house and discovered a termite infestation a week after moving in. Our inspection sticker on the door of the electric panel from only a couple of months earlier made them furious, and they wanted us to be responsible for our mistake. Unfortunately, we had done an inspection for a previous buyer—not them—and that buyer walked away from the deal because of the drywood termites we found in the attic, along with several other issues.
The house was a foreclosure. Banks specifically deny any knowledge of the condition of a foreclosed property, do not accept responsibility for disclosing any defects, and the report with our findings was not passed along to them. They incorrectly assumed that our recent inspection sticker indicated that the house was termite-free and did not order their own inspection. Big mistake.
Incidentally, what most people call a termite inspection is officially named a “WDO” inspection, which stands for Wood Destroying Organisms. The inspector must look for termites (both subterranean and drywood), several types of wood-destroying beetles, and areas of rotten wood caused a wood-decay fungi.
The inspection sticker is usually placed on the door of an electric panel, the water heater, or the electric meter box outside. Some companies use a dual-purpose sticker that can indicate an inspection, a pesticide treatment, or both, depending on what boxes are checked. If a treatment was done, the name of the chemical must be listed on the sticker. Termidor®, Vikane® and Premise® are brand names of the most common treatment chemicals. The sticker shown below shows that a treatment using Termidor for subterranean termites was done on 2/1/11.
Also, see our blog posts How do termites get into a concrete block house? and I think I have termites. What does a termite look like?
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To learn more about termites, see these other blog posts:
How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
site-built, mobile/manfuactued and modular homes
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