Wood destroying organisms do more than $2 billion worth of structural damage in the United States each year, and $500 million of that damage occurs right here in Florida. According to the US Forest Service, wood destroying organism (WDO) destruction accounts for “… more property damage than that caused by fire and windstorm combined.”
Without a home inspection that includes a (WDO) inspection, homeowners are usually oblivious to the damage until it’s progressed to an irreversible point.
Is Your Home Due For a WDO Inspection?
Because these pests tend to live in the unseen areas of the home, such as interior structural woods, the underside of door and window frames, and underneath trim pieces, thousands of dollars worth of damage is done without building owners being the wiser.
While pest control companies can provide a pest inspection report, their final reports are only a shallow rendering of the full-spectrum picture. A home inspection that includes a WDO inspection is the only way to get a clear picture of whether your Florida building is infested with wood-eating or wood-boring and establish the degree of damage.
For example, the damage caused by wood-destroying insects and pests not only compromises the structural integrity of the home it also leads to other critical repair issues such as:
- Weakening of load-bearing beams and trusses
- Water leaks
- Compromised electrical wiring or control panels
- Poor interior air quality due to the accumulation of WDO waste products and carcasses (a termite colony can have hundreds of thousands or even millions of members)
- Roof damage that leaves your home more prone to wind and storm damage
If you suspect your home has unwanted guests in the form of WDOs, a home inspection is the one-and-done method for determining what comes next. You’ll receive a detailed inspection report outlining the full-spectrum repair recommendations to get your home or business back to structural code.
3 Reasons a Pest-Specific Home Inspection is Key
Here are three reasons why a home inspection, including a WDO inspection, is key for Florida homeowners.
1. Florida is home to four major wood-destroying pests
The same warm, tropical climate we love is exceptionally appealing to insects of all types – including multiple species that eat dead wood. The four most common types of WDOs in southern Florida are:
- Termites. There are four different types of wood-destroying termites: subterranean, drywood, dampwood, and higher. All of them love to eat wood and enjoy the predator-free protection a home’s structural materials offer.
- Powderpost and ambrosia beetles. These are right behind termites in their voracious appetite for wood.
- Carpenter bees. While carpenter bees are essential pollinators, they bore into wood to make their nests. You’re better off putting up a carpenter bee house away from yours as their nest-boring habits cause cumulative damage to structural timber and siding.
- Carpenter ants. Like carpenter bees, carpenter ants prefer to dine elsewhere but bore holes into structural timber to lay their eggs.
Together, these four types of WDOs do considerable damage. Older homes are particularly vulnerable. Even so, until you know that adequate WDO prevention and protection are in place, your home should be inspected once every year or so.
Signs of WDO infestations include:
- The presence of mold or mildew in the home (damaged wood is more susceptible to moisture damage, as well as resulting mold/mildew)
- Soft or spongy wood or wood finishes
- Wood that has a whitish or yellowish tinge
- Soil (pest feces) in wood crevices or cracks
- Areas of obvious rot
- Winged insects swarming in windows, doors, or light fixtures
Any of the above signs warrant a home inspection ASAP!
2. You’re Purchasing a new Home, OR the Home Was Built Prior to 2003
If your home or business was built prior to 2003, you should definitely schedule a building inspection that specifically identifies WDOs. In 2002 Florida adopted a Termite Building Code to ensure new construction buildings were built with WDO protection and prevention in mind, including construction codes that accommodate regular WDO inspections.
- 1403.1.6 Veneered Walls. Require at least a 6-inch space between the grade and siding for a termite inspection.
- 1503.4.4 Roof Assemblies. Protection against decay and termites requires discharge lines and gutter downspouts to terminate at least one foot from the foundation.
- 2116. Masonry – Termite Inspection (Cleaning) Cells in blocks must not contain cellulosic debris. Concrete Bearing Ledge Brick veneers must be on an integral ledge, or a soil treatment must be made.
Homes that are 20 years old or older do not have these protective measures in place, and they are at higher risk for pest infestations. Also, in a competitive housing market, buyers are tempted to waive home inspections to help them seal the deal. This is never a good idea.
Your building inspection will highlight any existing infestations so the home is fumigated, protected from future infestations, and structural issues are repaired before moving in.
3. You’ll Save Thousands of Dollars (or more) Over the Lifetime of Your Home
The simple act of eliminating existing pests, shoring up the home to minimize future infestations, and following WDO prevention guidelines can save thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your home.
WDOs are famous for causing irreversible damage to major home systems, including:
- Roofs ($7,200 to $10,000)
- Siding ($5,435 and $16,549)
- Minor structural damage (starting at $3000)
- Cracking, sagging, bowing, and other significant signs of structural collapse ($25,000 or more)
When you weigh the minimal investment of a home inspection that includes a WDO inspection with the potential repair and replacement costs, there is no denying that inspection fees are well worth it.
Super Inspection Pros to the WDO Rescue
The Super Inspection Pros (SIP) perform thorough home inspections that include WDO assessments from your home’s top-to-bottom and side-to-side. We guarantee a 24-hour turnaround, and clients receive a detailed inspection report to pass on to their preferred contractor or home insurance carrier.
Are you getting ready to buy or sell your Florida home? Now’s the time to learn whether your home has hidden WDO or other structural damage to guide future decision-making. Contact SIP to schedule an inspection.