Structural Pest Control Inspections

When are inspections required?
Although the State of California regulates structural pest control firms, it does not require a Wood Destroying Pests and Organisms Inspection Report prior to the sale of property. However, prior to lending money on a property, a financial institution usually requires an inspection report to ensure that the building is structurally sound. A buyer is advised to arrange for a Structural Pest Control Inspection regardless of the condition of the home at the time of sale. The cost of an inspection is minimal compared to the cost of repairing undetected pest damage that could cost thousands of dollars.

What information is included on the inspection report?
There are three parts of an inspection report: findings, recommendations, and estimates. The inspection report should include any wood-destroying pests such as termites wood-boring beetles, fungus and the resulting structural damage that is visible and accessible on the date of inspection. Conditions considered likely to lead to future wood destroying pest infestations or infections such as excessive moisture, earth-to-wood contact, and faulty grade levels are also identified on the report. Recommendations are also made for treatment or repair. A diagram on the inspection report must detail every part of the house checked for signs of infestation or infections. The report must also state which areas have been inspected and which areas have not been inspected because of inaccessibility.

Do all recommendations listed on an inspection report have to be completed prior to the sale of a home?
There is no law requiring that any recommendations listed on a report must be completed. However, many financial institutions require that both the inspection and all recommendations be completed prior to the close of escrow. The lender usually requires certification from a pest control company stating that the structure is free of infestation or infection. Whether the buyer or seller pays for the work depends on the contract. The buyer should be aware of any recommendations which have not been completed before purchasing the home. The inspection report and the completion notice should be delivered to the person who ordered the report and to the property owner, or the agent, within ten working days.

How long is an inspection report considered valid?
Under the Structural Pest Control Act, there is a two-year statute of limitations on all inspection reports and completion notices. This means all complaints against licensees must be filed with the Board within two years after the date of inspection or completion of recommendations. Companies are not responsible for conditions which develop or become visible after the date of inspection. For that reason, it is advisable for a buyer to obtain an inspection report as close as possible to the close of escrow. If the seller orders the report, it is advisable to obtain it when the house is listed so that repairs may be completed before the start of escrow.

Are companies required to certify their inspection and work?
A structural pest control company is required to certify its inspection and/or work if requested by the person ordering the report. They will certify that either:

  • the inspection disclosed no evidence of active infestation or infection by wood destroying pests or organisms in the visible and accessible areas
  • the inspection disclosed active infestation or infection in visible and accessible areas which have been corrected
  • the property is free of pest infestation or infection in the visible and accessible areas, except for specified areas indicated.

The pest control company can perform a reinspection of items called on its original inspection report within four months of the inspection. The reinspection should be completed within ten working days after it has been ordered. If more than four months have elapsed since the original report date, a full inspection must be performed, and an original inspection report must be issued.

How can I tell if a house has been inspected before or if any work has been completed?
Every time a structural pest control company makes an inspection for wood-destroying pests or organisms, it must post a tag in the attic, subarea, or garage. The tag contains the firm's name and the date of the inspection. A similar tag must be posted next to the inspection tag when the company completes any work. In addition to the firm's name and the date of the completion, this tag must indicate any pesticides used. The structural pest control company must also note on an inspection report the location of the inspection tag as well as the presence of any other inspection tag or completion tag that is less than two years old. These reports are maintained by the pest control company for three years.