Buying or moving into a new home is exciting for most people. But before you actually pay and sign the deed of sale, it’s good to be meticulous, create a moving-in checklist, and look at every nook and cranny of the property.
Part of your due diligence is inspecting the property for pest infestation.
What is a Pre-Purchase Pest Inspection?
A pre-purchase pest inspection occurs when a pest control expert thoroughly checks the house for any sign of past, present, or potential pest issues. The interior and exterior of the property, roof voids, subfloors, and other spaces will be examined.
The pest inspector will also assess the property’s condition, determining the areas most vulnerable to infestation. They will check for moisture problems or cracks in the foundation using thermal imaging cameras and moisture meters.
Once the inspection is complete, a detailed report will be given to you. The information includes existing or past issues, the extent of the damage, and recommendations to keep the property safe from pests. This process helps you make an informed decision as a buyer.
Inspecting the Property for Pest Infestation
If you’re on a budget, do the pre-purchase pest inspection yourself. Although it’s not as comprehensive as hiring a pest control service, it can still give you an insight into the condition of the house you’re planning to purchase.
While probing, look out for these signs of pest problems in the property:
- Live pests crawling or flying around
- Dead insects on the floor or tables
- Buzzing noises around the area
- Pest nests hiding in corners or resting on rooftops
Inspecting the Exterior
If the property has a garden, look closely at the plants’ stems, leaves, and flowers for any sign of damage. If you notice holes in the leaves, wilting flowers, or distorted plant growth, it may indicate the presence of garden pests.
See if there are dirt mounds, grass damage, and soil instability. Some garden pests, such as moles and groundhogs, tend to dig tunnels and hide underground, making them difficult to detect. But holes in the soil suggest that they’re working without a permit.
Gutter and Downspouts
Gutter and downspouts are prone to pests such as mosquitoes, termites and ants. Take note of the following when checking these areas:
- Birds, squirrels, and rodents are likely to establish their nests here. If you notice twigs, leaves, and other nesting materials, chances are, their family is growing. Although, if you like bird nests, this may not bother you. You might even be excited to see if there are eggs or hatchlings.
- Stagnant water in the gutter or downspouts is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. And when they infest your house, you’ll get those itchy, annoying bites, not to mention the danger of contracting dengue or malaria.
- Observe how the water flows from the gutter and downspouts. If you notice that it’s not draining correctly, it may be clogged by nesting materials.
Roof and Eaves
Bats, birds, and squirrels can build their nests in roof voids or eaves. Detection can be difficult if you don’t pay close attention. A typical roof inspection involves roof tiles, gutters, and downpipes, flashing, and structural integrity.
Here’s how to identify a potential pest infestation in the roof or eaves of the property:
- Check the roof for pest droppings, nesting materials, or holes.
- Listen carefully for unusual sounds like scratching, scurrying or chirping.
- Inspect the roof for any damage. If you notice gnaw marks, scratch marks, loose shingles, chewed wires, or holes, there might have been a previous infestation.
- Determine possible entry points by looking for any openings or gaps in the roof. Check the adjoining ends, such as where the roof meets the eaves or vents penetrate the roof.
Investigating the Interior
As a buyer, ensure that your family is safe from pest infestation by examining the house interior.
The kitchen is prone to pest infestations, especially if the previous owner stored food improperly. Some signs are gnaw marks on surfaces of tables or cabinets, live or dead insects near trash bins or food sources, and strong, musty odors indicating a mildew problem.
Common pests in the kitchen and pantry are cockroaches, rodents, ants, flies, beetles and moths.
Ceilings are prone to water stains or leaks, attracting termites and ants. If you notice leak signs, pests might have lived there as they’re attracted to moisture.
Look for holes or cracks in the ceiling and check for peeling paint or sagging areas.
When checking the walls, listen for any scratching or squeaking noises. Mice and other pests tend to hide inside walls. If you also notice a grease-like trail along the wall, it’s a tell-tale sign of a mouse infestation. You may also see an unpleasant odor that smells like urine.
Aside from mice, pests such as ants and termites also tend to infest walls. Watch out for visible trails or tracks along the wall or lines of tiny ants or mud tubes from termites.
Bathrooms are often humid and damp, attracting various pests, such as cockroaches and ants. When looking for signs of a pest infestation in the bathroom, observe the drains and pipes, and check for signs of larvae or small flies.
Investigate the wall voids, the back of baseboards, and under the floor for any pharaoh ants, as they like to nest in warm, humid areas. Look out for cockroach droppings and their eggs as well.
A pre-purchase pest inspection can give you the upper hand during the negotiation, as fixing damages caused by a pest infestation can be expensive. It can also help you uncover issues the seller failed to mention.
Although you can explore the house by yourself, it’s still best to get help from pest control experts with extensive experience and knowledge on where to find common house pests.
After all, it’s better to allocate a budget for a professional pest inspection instead of spending thousands of dollars on future repairs.
About the Author
Luqman has been a pest control technician for over 20 years. He is passionate about solving people’s pest and wildlife control problems through innovative, eco-friendly, and humane methods. Luqman currently works for Pestend Pest Control. He believes that pest control is a science and feels that his function in his community is very important since he helps people live in peace without causing unnecessary harm to animals.