Can a termite inspector guarantee that there are no termites in a house?
Thursday, August 29, 2019
It is impossible for a termite inspector doing a WDO (Wood Destroying Organism) report for a real estate transaction to guarantee that a house is free of termites because termites mostly live in concealed areas of the home, such as inside the walls. A “clean" WDO report means a box is checked on the state-mandated inspection form that states “NO visible signs of WDO(s) (live, evidence or damage) observed."
Florida Statute 482.226, which governs termite inspection, states that “an inspection report does not constitute a guarantee of the absence of wood-destroying organisms or damage therefrom or other evidence unless the report specifically states therein the extent of such guarantee.” We have never seen a report with a guarantee clause added.
What A Termite Inspector Looks For
So an inspector is essentially certifying that a visual inspection found no evidence of termites. The inspector also looks for wood-decaying fungi (wood rot) and evidence of wood-destroying beetles, but the “visible signs” of termites that are searched for include:
- Termite damage to wood, such as their hollowed out “galleries"
- Termite wings left behind from swarming.
- Termite fecal pellets.
- Termite “kick-out” holes in walls, tiny holes they use to dispose of fecal pellets.
- Mud tubes
- Live termites (rarely found)
The Required Termite Inspection Sticker
A termite inspector is required to affix a sticker in the home at every inspection that states the date an inspection was done, the company, and the inspector that did it. It is usually affixed to the water heater or electric panel door. But the sticker does not indicate that evidence, or no evidence, of termites was found. Go to our blog post Does a recent termite company inspection sticker mean there are no termites? for more on this.
Also, see our blog post Is the WDO (termite) inspector allowed to poke holes in my wood siding and trim?
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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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