Termites can be harmful to a home, but they’re not the only wood destroying organism (WDO) that can cause issues. A WDO inspection by a trained professional can identify issues early, protecting homeowners, buyers, and sellers from more costly repairs later. Read this guide to wood destroying organism inspections to learn more.
What Are Wood Destroying Organisms?
When people hear the word ‘wood destroying organism,’ most of them immediately think of termites. This is a great first guess – especially since termites damage over 600,000 American homes yearly. In reality, these tiny bugs fall into a subgroup of WDOs known as wood destroying insects. They share this title with carpenter bees, powderpost beetles, carpenter ants and other pests.
When performing a WDO inspection, experts look for more than just these insects. Wood decay, evidence of past infestations, damage to wooden structures, evidence of past treatments and favorable conditions for infestations are all potential issues the inspector will look for. Any of these signs can indicate the presence of these organisms.
Do I Need a WDO Inspection?
There are several instances when bringing in a WDO inspector would be beneficial. In some instances, however, doing so is mandatory. Many states require a WDO report prior to selling a home. Even if they don’t, most banks, guarantors and mortgage companies will mandate such a report to ensure they’re making a sound investment.
If your loan is coming from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), for instance, an FHA inspection isn’t the only requirement necessary to close on the loan. This may seem like a hassle, but it ensures that homebuyers don’t end up paying thousands of dollars on repairs down the road. For example, termite damage alone costs an average of $3,300 to repair.
Even if you’re not buying or selling a home, taking a proactive approach to WDO can be beneficial. If these organisms go unchecked, it can cause serious issues that require extensive repair and take a huge chunk out of your home’s value.
If you notice any of the following issues, it may be time to call a WDO inspection expert:
- Developing mold in home
- Whitish-yellowing tinge on wood
- Wood that feels spongy or “gives” with pressure
- Soil in wood cracks and crevices
- Any areas of rot
While these are far from serving as an exhaustive list of issues, they are some of the most common signs that WDO are present. Reacting to these problems immediately is vital.
What are the Different Types of WDO Inspection?
COMPLETE WDO INSPECTIONS
During a complete WDO Inspection, your trained inspector will perform a visual check of the home's internal and external structure. They will only be able to check accessible areas, however, so it is important to prepare the home for inspection ahead of time.
LIMITED WDO INSPECTIONS
For homeowners, buyers, or sellers who are concerned about WDO in a specific part of the home, a limited WDO inspection can be performed. This inspection will only cover areas directly requested by the client. While this type of inspection can help identify issues if there is a particular reason for concern, a complete WDO inspection is always recommended.
What WDO Inspectors Look For
There are several signs of wood destroying organisms that anyone could easily identify. When a WDO inspector is on the job, however, their analysis is far more in-depth. Not all potential issues or evidence of previous damage is visible with the naked eye. That’s why these assessors go through extensive training prior to being licensed to perform such an inspection.
Your WDO inspector will consider all the following issues:
Exterior WDO Inspection
- Any sign of termite activity
- Termite shelter tubes
- Flying termites
- Termite droppings, etc
- Conditions conducive to WDOs
- Dead tree stumps near home
- Wood closely adjacent to ground
- Tree branches touching or overhanging home
- Leaky downspouts/gutters
- Improper grading
- Evidence of any wood destroying insects
Interior WDO Inspection
- Interior inspection is physical and visual
- Special attention paid to WDO-prone areas
- Basement and garage at particular risk
- Door and window frames are also prone to infestation
- Probing, tapping and listening for termites in susceptible wood
- Living or dead termites and evidence of their presence
- Conducive conditions for WDOs (e.g. high moisture levels)
- Damaged wood
WDO inspectors typically use specialized tools during the process. If they find evidence of an infestation, they’ll mention this in their report along with treatment estimates and recommendations for remediation. Evidence of prior infestations will also be noted in the report.
How Long Does a WDO Inspection Take?
This inspection often takes between 30 minutes and an hour, but larger structures can take even longer. Homes with extensive damage could also lengthen the process. The important thing to remember if you’re a home buyer, is that the WDO inspector is there to help you.
Your one-stop shop home inspector can also perform the WDO inspection and other ancillary services at the same time as your thorough home inspection. This makes it easy and convenient for home buyers and sellers to receive a complete and up-to-date picture of the condition of their home.
What Does a WDO Inspection Cost?
The cost of a WDO inspection varies based on a number of factors including where you live and the size of the home. It could range from $125 - $225 or higher, but can also be packaged with other services for a lower price. When scheduling your WDO or home inspection, ask your inspector about what other services they offer, and what package options are available.
Even if the real estate agent or other party is covering the inspection price, repair expenses related to these organisms could fall to you. This means you should never let anyone try to rush your WDO professional through an inspection. Being thorough in these situations is more important than being expedient.
For more information, or if you need guidance regarding a WDO inspection, reach out to a highly trained WIN Home Inspection expert near you by clicking here. You can also talk to a professional by calling (800) 309-6753.