New Home Inspection & Maintenance for Pest Prevention

Congratulations on taking the final steps in choosing a new construction home!  This is a milestone and should be celebrated accordingly — after it passes the new home checklist for pest prevention and pest control, that is.

We totally get it; you're more concerned about the square footage and amenities, plus everything you’ve carefully scrutinized while watching home buying and renovation reality TV shows. However, understanding the nuances of pest control in new construction homes will save you a lot of headaches, not to mention a lot of money down the line. Home inspectors, while licensed professionals, per the American Society of Home Inspectors (AHSI) aren’t required to determine, “the presence of plants, animals, and other life forms and substances that may be hazardous or harmful to humans including, but not limited to, wood destroying organisms.” That's a significant caveat, especially when termites invade 600,000 homes per year , causing more than an estimated $5 billion worth of damage each year. In fact, that’s more damage caused to homes than tornados, hurricanes, and flooding combined. The real kicker? Many home insurance companies don't even cover pest damage, so it's crucial to have all your bases covered during the inspection and beyond.

One might think there’s less likelihood of pests in new homes, but there’s a great chance of having ant and termite problems show up during swarming seasons in the region where your new home is located. Therefore, it is highly recommended to have your home, particularly the foundation and other locations conducive to ants and termites, pre-treated for such pests by a knowledgeable and experienced pest management professional (PMP).  If the house has been on the market for a while, you should make it a point to have your chosen PMP inspect the attic, garage, crawl space, utility rooms and basement since these parts of the new home are often overlooked for unwelcomed pests and other unwanted critters during house showings. Also, have your inspector use a moisture meter in the basement, crawl spaces and wall voids to check for trapped moisture, which can lead to a variety of future pest issues.  In addition, don’t fail to have your PMP inspect weedy and brushy areas of your property.

Because there’s so much to consider, including which pests are more likely to be cohabitating with you by state, we’ve compiled a checklist of pest control tips you should carefully follow during your home maintenance property tour.

PEST CONTROL CHECKLIST DURING INSPECTION OF NEW HOMES

INDOORS

  • Unused chimneys can become homes for wasps, hornets, birds, bats, racoons and squirrels.
  • Don’t neglect the attic! Shredded cardboard, paper, insulation or rodent droppings signal a pest presence in the attic.
  • Look for tiny brown stains littering the wallpaper, baseboards, or around electrical sockets, particularly in the bedroom. This could be a telltale sign of bed bugs.
  • Cockroaches love moisture, so be wary of leaky pipes or warped flooring.
  • Have you tapped the walls and heard hollowed-out wood? Termites or wood-boring beetles may have already moved in.
  • Check for cracks and gaps within the building’s foundation or siding since rodent and insect pests need only a ½ inch or less gap to get inside. Also, look for holes located in the ground alongside concrete slabs or the foundation, which mean rabbits, groundhogs or some other animal has constructed a subterranean den under the house.
  • Dark and moist basement? That’s a favorite for rodents, cockroaches, and spiders that like to nest in corners.

OUTDOORS

  • Is your lawn pristine? Great! However, if your neighbors' lawn is overgrown, that could mean potential pest problems for you both.
  • They say good fences make good neighbors, but termites and wood-boring beetles can make homes in wood fences and wood mulch that is too thick for good drainage. Also, avoid exclusively thick mulch next to the home’s foundation.
  • Have a pool handy? Make sure the water is constantly circulated, clean and drained during the seasons when the pool is unused. Debris and containers that hold water make favorable conditions for breeding mosquitos.
  • Ensure any wooden porches or decks don’t have signs of buckling wood — it could be an early sign of a termite or a wood fungus infestation.
  • Love the flora and fauna? Beware, overgrown vegetation is a favorite hiding spot for ticks.
  • Have your inspector make sure any excess wood (including stumps) are removed from your property before taking ownership.

ALREADY MOVED IN?

Don't worry; you can retroactively protect yourself against pests even after you've signed the papers and unrolled the welcome mat. However, don’t wait too long before checking these cautionary measures off your “to do” list:

  • Seal windows
  • Clean gutters
  • Move wood mulch away from the house
  • Check for plumbing leaks
  • Seal gaps around pipes
  • Cover vent openings with wire mesh
  • Clear and clean the attic
  • Trim low hanging trees
  • Remove piles of leaves and tree limbs, which create habitat for ticks and other pests.
  • Install door sweeps
  • Position gutter downspouts to direct water away from your foundation
  • Dispose of empty cardboard boxes

And, most importantly, don’t forget to schedule recurring inspections by a pest management professional. It’s easier to evict unwelcomed pests before they’ve rolled out the red carpet and made your new house their permanent home.