Wood Destroying Insect Report (a/k/a “Certification”)


Homeowners are usually reluctant to admit to potential buyers that their homes have been damaged by termites. For some people, the mere mention of the words "termite damage" conjures up images of tiny insects with very big teeth dining on weight-bearing wood beams until a home collapses in a heap of sawdust. Thankfully, this is not usually the case.

What is a Wood Destroying Report?

As a protective measure, banks and lending institutions require that homes be inspected for damage from termites and other wood-destroying insects before closing the sale of the home. A Wood Destroying Insect Report (WDI) is a document prepared by a licensed pest control company that informs the lending institution and buyer of the results of the inspection.

 WDI provides basic information about the inspection such as the address of the property and which structures were inspected. Also, general questions are answered: Are there any obstructions or areas inaccessible to inspection" Is there any visible evidence of infestation or previous treatment? Will the inspecting company or another company correct the damage? WDI pinpoints special areas or concern such as locations of previous treatment and areas that are inaccessible to inspection.

What a WDI is not

Now that you know what a WDI is, let's talk about what a WDI is not:

  • A WDI is not a structural damage report. WDIs tell you only about damage relating to infestation (but not the extent of same as that is the expertise of a building contractor). In addition, it does indicate the presence of structural damage for other reasons such as earthquakes or floods.

  • A WDI is not a guarantee of the absence of wood-destroying insects. An inspection is an important tool in evaluating the soundness of a structure, but there are limitations. An inspector can't pick up a house and look under it, or take it apart and put it back together.

What are WDIs good for then?

What good is a WDI if it can't guarantee that a house is free from termites? Aside from identifying obvious infestations and previous treatment, WDIs highlight potential problem areas. Here are some things that buyers should look for:
  • Cracks in foundation walls. A crack 1/32 of an inch wide will give termites and other wood-destroying insects access to a house.

  • Leaking pipes and faucets. Termites, as well as other insects, seek out moisture for survival. Leaking pipes can keep wood and soil continually damp and create a perfect home for termites.

  • Wood debris around and under a house. Pieces of scrap lumber or firewood kept next to a structure can support a colony of termites.

  • Sprinkler systems or bubblers placed near the outside wall of a structure. Excessive watering can dilute pesticide treatments around foundation walls.

  • Flower planters. Planters allow hidden and direct access to unprotected siding and cracked stucco when built in direct contact with a house.

  • Trellises and wooden fences. If a trellis or wood fence touches the soil and is in contact with a structure, it provides a direct link between subterranean termites in the soil and wood in the structure.

WDIs provide valuable information for the sale of a home and document its present condition for future reference. Unfortunately, there is no state law that requires a WDI for the sale of a structure; it is a requirement of the lending institution. State law does dictate that WDIs meet certain minimum standards.

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