The sensible home buyer knows paying for a pre purchase building pest inspection and building inspection is a sensible precaution. The building inspection is obviously assessing the structure itself, looking for issues such as unsound timber, cracked plaster or a leaking roof. The pest inspection, on the other hand, is looking for... what? 'Termites', would be the answer most people would give if asked which pests threaten Australian homes, but what else does a professional inspection check for?
First on the inspection list, the aforementioned termites earn the position of the most expensive and common pest sharing our homes. According to an Archicentre report, these 'white ants' cause approximately $1 billion worth of damage and treatment costs each year in Australia. Your pest inspection will look for current termite activity, but also any old termite damage. Whatever their findings, you can guarantee the report will recommend investing in an anti-termite treatment if you decide to purchase the property.
There are several species of wood borer found throughout Australia. Borers are the larvae of beetles who lay their eggs within timber. The larvae eat (bore) their way through the timber causing potentially significant damage. The Anobium borer (furniture beetle) and Queensland pine borer prefer older pine flooring or wall panelling. There have been cases of them causing flooring collapse. Borer damage can be detected by finding emergence holes (where the larvae has eaten through to the outer surface of the timber) and small piles of chewed wood and droppings, known as frass. The Lyctus borer (powder post beetle) prefers fresh-cut hardwood timber and is therefore less commonly found. Where it is present, the damage tends to be of cosmetic concern only.
Wood decay fungi
This type of fungi is found in damp, poorly ventilated areas of the home, particularly beneath bathrooms and laundries. The damage the fungus itself does to the timber is not usually enough to warrant replacement of beams, but the fungal decay lures termites so should be addressed. Installing sub-floor fans and removing the moisture usually rectifies the issue.
Your pest inspection will assess the property for any other conditions that might attract termites or borers. Some areas will not be accessible or visible during the inspection, but obvious indicators of a termite-conducive property will be flagged. These range from leaky water pipes and poor ventilation to unexposed concrete slabs and lack of termite shields on piers.
A thorough pest inspection is a sound investment when spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a property.