Preparing Your Property for Sale – Pest and Building Inspection Checklist

So you’ve decided you’re going to sell your home. You’ve listed the property; sales agents have begun promoting it and now you’ve got interested buyers putting forward offers.

Everything is going well until your property fails a building and pest inspection.

What!?

For any homeowner, the frustration of discovering unwanted pests, especially termites inside their homes is bad enough, let alone during the negotiation and settlement phase.

Before you list your property on the market, always ensure that you have a thorough pest inspection carried out by a qualified professional. They’ll be able to use specialised equipment to identify any problems ahead of time.

Once you’ve had the inspection done and everything is okay, then you’ll have peace of mind in knowing that –

  • Buyers wont try to renegotiate the sale price at a lower rate
  • There won’t be any unexpected surprises for the buyer or sales agent
  • Settlement of the property will happen quickly and without issue
  • You’ll get the best possible price for your home

Of course if the report finds any problems, you’ll at least have time to rectify the situation before engaging with sales agents or potential buyers.

Dont make these mistakes

Pest-Ex has performed literally, tens of thousands of pest inspections and in that time, we’ve seen it all.

  • Agents bailing out on sellers due to dishonesty (not disclosing termite problems)
  • Buyers unable to sell their properties due to pest related issues
  • Homes being sold well under market value due to termite infestations

The last thing you need is a sale going sour because of a failed pest inspection.

Here’s a few key areas you should take into account when preparing your home for sale.

Ensure you have a termite control system in place

This might seem obvious, but properties that have been adequately protected are more attractive to buyers than those that aren’t – even if there haven’t been any signs of termites.

Of course, installing a termite barrier isn’t always necessary, but if the property is considered high risk, then it would certainly give buyers some reassurance about their investment.

However, installing termite prevention simply comes back to the property owner.

But you should at least be mindful of it, especially when about to list your property for sale. Of course it makes sense to have the property thoroughly inspected first, then decide upon the best course of action, once you’ve received your inspection report.

Certainly if your property is considered high risk, then it would most likely be in your best interest to simply have a barrier installed, or at least have the home treated.

High risk conditions include –

  • Well known areas for termite infestations
  • Wet or damp climate conditions
  • High termite activity

Our advice

While there are a number of options, a termite management system (such as a chemical or physical barrier) can normally be installed for between $1,800 and $4,000 (you can view more about costs here). This might seem like an unnecessary expense, but it might mean the difference between you selling your home, or finding yourself engaged in legal disputes, drawn out settlements, or not being able to sell the property at all.

It’s always worthwhile being proactive, and at the very least, having an inspection carried out first, then if necessary, installing a termite barrier, or ensuring the one you have is up to date in terms of maintenance.

Always disclose previous pest or termite problems

Properties that have had a history of termites are not uncommon, however for trained professionals they are easy to spot.

Typically we find holes drilled around the perimeter of a property which indicates the presence of termites or the installation of a chemical barrier. Whilst this is not uncommon, it can be common for us to find the following –

  • There’s no paperwork or documentation that shows installation dates
  • There’s no way of knowing if the barrier has been maintained, or is effective at all

Other signs of previous termite damage include –

  • Repaired or replaced timber framing

Termite treatment stickers are usually placed within meter boxes, but not always. As mentioned above, when there are signs of a previous infestation, without supporting documentation it can be difficult to know the properties history.

Our advice

Be honest and upfront about the history of the property.

Home owners who intend on listing a property must disclose the fact that termites have been present in the home, even if they have been successfully eradicated. This information should be presented in form of documentation to all relevant parties. Buyers, sales agents, inspectors and so on.

It’s compulsory for pest inspectors to indicate a previous infestation, so it pays to be completely honest and save yourself from potential embarrassment later on.

Have all Relevant pest control reports and paperwork

Quite often we come across home owners that have carried out extensive renovations, or even extensions.

Its important that home owners understand the importance of documentation and paperwork. If an extensive renovation has been performed, we as inspectores need to know that all the necessary building codes and best practices have been applied, such as the use of treated timber, the correct implementation of water proofing, and any potential areas exposed directly to soil have been treated, or blocked off, denying access to termites etc.

Without supporting documentation, it can difficult to know for certain whether a property is adequately protected, and in some cases, the report may be failed.

One area in particular that usually always causes concerns are when home owners add extensions to the property, and pour new concrete slabs up against existing ones. This is never a good idea, unless a termite barrier or reticulation system is installed. Termites have the ability to crawl up between the very small gap between the concrete slabs and once inside, will start eating the house frame.

Our advice

Always have a pest inspector present to provide guidance and advice before carrying out extensive renovations, and extensions. If you’ve already had the work done, be sure to have all necessary paperwork and supporting documentation available so that we can cross check everything and be able to sign off on a successful inspection.

Buyers will always be more receptive to a sale if you have all council approvals and warranty’s etc from reputable builders that demonstrates professional work has been carried out and the home is protected.

Ensure Weep holes are unobstructed

Weep holes are the gaps you see between the brickwork down near ground level on most properties.

Weep holes serve two important purposes –

  • Drainage. Condensation, floods, accidental water damage, and rising water needs to disperse somewhere, and that is the main function of weep holes.
  • Ventilation. Weep holes allow ventilation of the structure. In particular, the internal wall cavity. Mildew, mould and dampness can have an adverse affect of timber especially (walls, framework, gyprock etc) Once moisture accumulates internally, it can result in wood rot and mould, which over time can break down the materials.

Australian standards state that weep holes need to be clear of obstruction and must be at least 75mm above ground level. Unfortunately a large number of home owners place mulch, lawn clippings, garden beds, soil and wood chip over them, which essentially allows direct access for termites. Termites simply make their way inside the property via the build up against the wall cavity opening. Once inside they can do an incredible amount of damage.

Our advice

Be sure to keep your weep holes are clear. Don’t place anything up against the side of the property that obstructs them. No dirt, lawn clippings, wood chips, mulch or soil.

If they are obstructed, then be sure to clear them immediately and call us to have your home inspected.

Ensure Pest Inspectors have adequate access to the property

A building and pest inspection cant be thoroughly performed if the pest inspectors don’t have full access to the property. We’ve performed thousands of pest inspections and in some cases, the property owner is not present, and has simply provided us with access.

That’s fine in most instances, however occasionally there are areas of the property where we cannot access.

If we cant access certain areas of the property then the inspection is rendered incomplete, in which case we cannot confidently say its okay and pass it. Of course this can cause problems for the buyer.

Our advice

Always ensure pest inspectors have full access to all areas of the property. This includes, the yard, roof voids, all rooms and beneath the property if possible. Also take into consideration that often pest inspectors will need to move furniture and other belongings to gain entry or access to certain areas.

Its always best to go around your home and ensure that pets are restrained, gates are unlocked, and that pest controllers can do their job without hindrance.

Check your Waste water drip tubes

There are two waste water drip tubes you need to check before organising your sale.

They are –

  • Air conditioning drip tubes – 80% of homes have the drip tube up against the side of the house. When the air conditioning is running, water is seeping down the side of the house into the soil which creates moisture, that in turn, attracts termites.  In 2011, regulations changed, and by law installers must ensure that the drip tube is plumbed into a drain, not directly into the soil. Drip tubes must be plumbed into drainage.
  • Hot water system overflow drip tubes – The relief valve must also be plumbed into a drain, or alternatively, fed via a hose out into the yard, away from the side of the house.

Our advice

Try to have these two waste water outlets sorted out before organising your inspection and listing your property for sale. As mentioned above, air conditioning drip tubes must now be plumbed into a drain (by law). So if your air conditioning unit is simply dumping water by the brick work, then there’s a chance your building and pest inspection will come back as failed.

Stored timbers and waste products

Be sure to take a look around your property and clear it of any unwanted stored timbers or waste products that might be considered attractive to unwanted pests, and especially termites.

Remove any timber, crates, firewood or furniture that might be stored against the side of the house, or beneath it. One common problem we find when performing inspections are property owners that store significant amounts of firewood, stacked up against the side of the home. The firewood is placed directly on the soil, obstructs weep holes, and provides direct access to the property.

Often firewood is contaminated with pests upon delivery, so its definitely not a good idea to place it directly up against the side of your property.

Our advice

Take any unwanted items to the tip. Stored timbers, firewood, furniture, crates, and other items that might be attractive to termites should be placed up OFF the ground, preferably on concrete.

If you do find termites when shifting stuff around, try not to disturb them and give us a call immediately.

Seller Transparency

Sellers are often reluctant to disclose all information about their property in fear that they might lose out financially.

We’ve seen multiple instances where home owners have withheld important information, such as previous termite infestations, which have been discovered during a building and pest inspection, which has resulted in the sale falling through.

Professional pest inspectors will ALWAYS find evidence of pest related problems, no matter how hard you try to hide them, so it pays to be completely upfront and honest with everyone involved, right at the outset.

Our advice

Always be honest.

If you’ve had termites, tell the agent, tell any potential buyers, and of course, tell your pest professional. Provide all relevant documentation, warranty’s, and paperwork and reassure buyers that the house has been treated, the issue resolved, and they have nothing to worry about.

We’ve worked with thousands of home owners and have always provided the best guidance and advice to the property owner about how best to move forward without any issues.

It’s unfortunate but there have been a number of cases where a sale has fallen through because the home owner has tried to hide certain information away. This is never a good idea, and can lead to much bigger problems.

Honesty is the best policy. It gives everyone peace of mind, and will fast track the settlement process considerably.

Ready to work with Pest-Ex?

So there you have it, some great points that you should definitely take into account when thinking about listing your property for sale.

If you are thinking about selling, give us a call and we’ll have one of our friendly pest control technicians come out to your home and perform an inspection for you.

We service Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Logan City.