Buying a new home is an exciting and often stressful proposition. With offers, counter-offers, inspections, financing, and moving plans all happening at the same time, it’s easy to overlook small details. One of those details is the pests that may already be occupying your new home. Some of these “residents” may be of little concern, while others might require a protracted removal campaign.
Let’s take a look at a few of the bugs you should watch out for when buying a new home.
With good reason, termites reign supreme at the top of the “Deal Killers” list. As such, most prudent home buyers will ask for a termite [or wood destroying organisms (WDO)] inspection. This inspection seeks to identify previous or current problems with subterranean termites, drywood termites, and other organisms that can cause damage to a home.
A WDO inspection is critical because of the potential cost of treatments and repairs foisted onto the unsuspecting buyers. Treatments for subterranean termites can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on the size and design of your home. Fumigation for drywood termites can range from $1,500 to $4,500 for an average size home.
The repair cost from either type depends on how long the problem went untreated and the construction type of your home. Yikes!
Termites are the most problematic source of physical damage to a house, but there are other pests a homebuyer should be aware of too. Bed bugs, rodents, and bats can also incur time and expense to treat, and should be considered in any real estate transaction.
Here a Bug, There a Bug, Everywhere a BED BUG
While you’re probably well aware of the risk of bed bugs in hotels, you might not think about them when buying a home. They should be. Not only are these bugs stinkers to get rid of, but it can also be wildly expensive! Not to mention labor intensive.
A typical treatment involves treating the entire interior of the home including furniture, bedding, and carpet. Your home might need several applications, and each one can cost over $1,000. If it’s a bad infestation, you might even be tasked with washing every single piece of clothing, stuffed animal, and pillow in the place before you’re rid of bed bugs. Yuck.
(Click here to learn more about what you should do if you think you have bed bugs.)
Tent fumigation for bed bugs is another (labor-intensive) treatment option. A typical fumigation for an average-size home is $2,000 or more. These are not insignificant costs any time but can be especially crushing amidst all the other expenses of buying a home.
Not a Creature Was Stirring…Except For a Mouse, and a Dozen Of Their Closest Friends
Rodent problems are another consideration. Controlling the rat population could be as simple as a well-placed snap trap with the gourmet offering of peanut butter. If rodents have been allowed to run amok unnoticed, it can take much more time and effort to eliminate them.
In addition, exclusion measures are likely required to prevent their family and friends from returning. Exclusion is the process of repairing rodent entry points into your home. This can be as simple as sealing up a hole in the eaves, or as complex as replacing the entire enclosure surrounding a crawl space. While exclusion measures differ in every circumstance, it is not unheard of for rodent removal to cost thousands of dollars.
That isn’t even the end of the problem either. Even after you’ve rid your home of these furry invaders, you’ll still have to contend with the damage they’ve left behind. Rodents can not only chew electrical wiring (creating potential fire hazards), but they may also chew and dig their way through a/c and heating ducts. For sanitation purposes, you should also trash any insulation contaminated with rodent urine and feces.
Every job of this nature is different. Cost and hassle hinge on the rodent population and the size and layout of the house.
A rodent population doesn’t have to be large to be expensive. A small group that has experience with a homeowner’s attempts to trap them can be a difficult adversary to beat. These are intelligent and resourceful creatures, and it can take a surprisingly long time to “outsmart” them.
Of course, a large home often requires more time and materials to repair and rodent-proof than a small house. Likewise, a two or three story home includes the challenge of working far above the ground. The only thing they all have in common is the expense!
Black Spirits Flitting Through The Night
How about bats? While they do have redeeming qualities not shared with rodents, they can be a real problem when it comes to buying a home. Bats can live unnoticed in an attic, creating health hazards with their feces (guano).
If you think you can just crawl into the attic with a pellet rifle and “eliminate” the problem, think again. Not only are bats a force for good in the environment but they are also protected by state and federal governments. Harming bats can result in penalties, and they cannot be removed when young bats (pups) are present. This may mean waiting weeks or months for the breeding season to end before you can take remedial measures. Removing these creatures unharmed requires a special set of skills best left to the professionals.
(Curious to learn more about how bats became associated with Halloween? Read on!)
In the excitement of buying a new home, don’t forget to consider the possibility of unwanted guests already living there. If any of these pests are discovered during the purchase process, an amended purchase agreement can help defray treatment costs. If you don’t spot them until after you take possession of the home, it’s on you. Not exactly a warm welcome into your new digs, right?
Be proactive when buying a new home (and secure the services of a trusted, educated realtor), and you’re sure to avoid these hazards. Happy hunting!
Need a termite/WDO inspection as part of the purchase process? Give us a call at 386-673-1557 to schedule your appointment. Trust us, after decades of experience in this business, this is not an area to skip over. We’re happy to help.
Todd Stebleton is the owner and operator of Universal Pest Control, a family-owned business for over 25 years in Ormond Beach, Florida. He and his wife Natalie are proud to have built a company focused on conducting business with honesty and integrity: keeping customers first, protecting the environment, and providing trustworthy, personal service.
Universal: Honest, Environmentally Friendly Pest Control