How to read termite inspection reports
If you have ever seen a termite inspection report you know that they are ugly, difficult to read, and almost impossible to understand unless you have been specifically trained on how to read them.
It is not uncommon to talk to a person who deals with multiple termite inspection reports on a daily basis and still doesn’t know how to read them or how to answer basic questions about the information being reported.
First, it should be noted that most termite control companies will follow the same basic format and template for their termite inspection reports. That’s because the state agency that governs all of us, the Structural Pest Control Board, has given direct and specific guidelines that all termite inspection reports in California have to follow.
The only reports you’ll see that differ from the guidelines established by the Structural Pest Control Board are from companies that either think they are too cool to play by the rules or can’t afford the cost to upgrade their software to meet the current industry standards.
So, don’t blame the termite control company for how difficult it is to navigate through one of these reports.
The good news is that most reports are standardized. Keep reading and you will be able to answer at least 80% of questions on any termite inspection report that is formatted to follow the current guidelines set by the Structural Pest Control Board.
The first line is the address of the property being inspected.
The second line is the contact information of the termite control company who performed the inspection. In this line, you will see the name of the company, address, telephone number, and the company’s License number.
In the lower right corner of this box, you will see the unique report number that this company will reference when discussing your individual inspection report.
Note, if you have multiple companies inspect your property, each company will have a unique report number.
This line is customer contact information. The first box is the information of the person who requested the inspection. The second box is the information of the property owner or contact information of the current occupant. The third box is the contact information to whom the report was sent.
If you are a homeowner requesting an inspection for your property, all three of these boxes will have the same information. In escrow transactions, you may have different contact information in each of these boxes.
For example, one of my favorite realtors like Ernie Vique or Jeremy Conrad may order a termite inspection of my house that’s listed for sale, and the report may go directly to the escrow officer handling the transaction.
These last few lines contain a lot of important information. This line is actually very important in that it sets any limitations that may be attributed to the report. You will notice that this line indicates whether the report was a complete, limited, or supplemental report.
This part is a general description of the structure inspected. This information is really only useful when a crew returns to the property to perform work. It helps to verify the property referenced before commencing work.
In California, regulations require termite inspectors to leave a tag somewhere onsite of a property that was inspected. This section tells you where you can find the inspection tag.
And here is a key of codes that will correspond to the findings of this particular inspection.
In this little snippet of the report alone, you can get a general idea of what was found. You will notice that all codes that start with the number 1 correspond to findings of Subterranean Termites. All codes that start with the number 2 correspond to findings of Drywood Termites. All codes beginning with 3 correspond to findings of fungus/dryrot. All codes starting with 4 correspond to other types of findings. These may be findings that are not termite infestations but issues that can lead to one such as faulty grade levels or signs of excessive water exposure on certain wood members. Codes beginning with 5 are issues that need a more thorough look. This could be areas of the structure that were inaccessible for inspection such as a locked attic space. It could also be an area exhibiting evidence of termite infestation that cannot be thoroughly inspected; for example, termites swarming out of a chimney flue.
There are not many, but every now and then you may run into a report that has codes that exceed the number 5 going up to 11 or so. This is an old format and method of reporting. When the Structural Pest Control board mandated the adoption of the new standardized format, some companies could not afford the software to update their report formats. Others refused to update their format stating reasons like “we don’t feel like retraining everyone”, among others.
In this specific report, you can see that the boxes for Drywood Termite and Fungus/Dryrot are checked and nothing else. From this you can see that at the time of the inspection, there were findings related to Drywood Termites and fungus/rot but no issues with Subterranean Termites or other potential issues of concern.
The bottom third of the first page will have an aerial view diagram of the structure inspected, the name of the termite inspector, his/her license number as registered with the Structural Pest Control Board, and his/her signature (often digital).
In the diagram of the structure, you will see each finding and code placed in the general area where the finding occurs.
From the second third of the page, you can immediately see if Drywood Termites, Subterranean Termites, or fungus/rot issues were discovered, and, using the diagram, you can tell what was found and where it was found, all from just looking at the first page of your termite inspection report.
For example, from looking at this diagram:
it looks like the structure has some sort of a porch where the front door is, an alley-like or side-yard space on the right, and a sliding door in the back with a big window next to it.
If you were to look at the front porch area you would see that we have codes 2A, 2E, and two 3C codes.
Based on what you know of the code key, you already know that codes 2A and 2E are findings of Drywood Termites and code 3C is a finding of fungus/dryrot. To get details on what each code means for your specific termite inspection, you will have to delve into the description of findings that we will discuss shortly.
Keep in mind that diagrams are not standard. Most of the time, they only make sense when you are familiar with the layout and footprint of the property they refer to. Each inspector will choose to include or omit as much detail as they like. More details help to provide context to help others pinpoint the locations of each finding.
At this point, you can see whether the inspection report you are looking at is based on a complete or a limited inspection of the structure. You can immediately tell if Drywood Termites, Subterranean Termites, or fungus/rot issues were discovered, and, using the diagram, you can tell what findings correspond to what areas of the structure, all from just looking at the first page of your termite inspection report.
You are now ready to get into the nitty-gritty.
Pages 2 and 3 of termite inspection reports tend to be legalese and disclaimers such as, “We did not move furniture at the time of inspection,” “Mold is not a wood destroying organism, therefore this inspection did not include looking for and noting mold,” and “You have the right to a second opinion,” and on and on.
Usually, around page 4 of a termite inspection report, you will get to what is known as the “Description of Findings”.
In this section, you will find the details corresponding to each finding that will include the type of finding, the extent of the issue, a detailed description of the location, the affected wood-member type, and the recommended course of action.
Let’s take findings 2A and 2B as examples:
By now you know that both of these findings refer to Drywood Termites because the code starts with the number 2. Each letter refers to an occurrence or type of finding and is unique to each report.
A type of finding of Drywood Termites can basically fall into two categories; (1) finding a Drywood Termite infestation and (2) finding damage caused by a Drywood Termite infestation.
In this case, you will note that 2A refers to the finding of evidence of Drywood Termites in several areas including the attic, windows, fascia, moulding, trim and jambs.
In this particular case, the recommended course of treatment is to seal and fumigate the structure for Drywood Termite eradication.
For this report, code 2B refers to damage to second story fascia boards caused by Drywood Termites. The recommended course of action for this particular finding is to remove and replace the affected wood member, then paint the new wood member to match the paint of the damaged wood member.
You will note that the code includes specifications of the lumber type (fascia), location(second story) and the dimensions including the linear feet of affected lumber (2x12x10).
This level of detail is essential to ensuring the greatest value and ROI when taking on the task of performing necessary repairs.
Compare this report to others who do not provide the same level of detail. For the sake of an example let’s pretend you got two reports from two companies and one of the reports’ description of the finding simply said “Fascia.”
And, let’s say the recommended course of action said something like “Repair or remove and replace affected wood member as necessary.”
If you were to accept the scope of proposed repairs in our report you would know exactly what you are getting: removal of 10 feet of 2x12 second story fascia, full replacement with new lumber and painting to match.
In the second hypothetical report, it is unclear how much wood is being addressed as no dimensions are given.
It is unclear if the scope calls for removing and replacing with new wood, or if the company is going to try and repair the damaged wood member by filling it with Bondo or another filler putty.
It’s important to note that any code beginning with 2 is related to Drywood Termites but 2A does not always mean a finding of a Drywood Termite infestation.
The inspector could have well noted the damage caused by termites first and called the termite damage 2A and the infestation 2B.
In this particular case, Drywood Termites were so rampant in so many different locations of the house like, attics, eaves, etc and in so many different types of wood members like moulding, fascia, and trims, that it was best for the sake of readability that all Drywood Termite infestations were lumped into one code: 2A.
This will not always be the case. Each report is unique and different, and each inspector will choose to order the code findings differently.
In order to understand the details of the findings of each report, you will have to consult each report’s “Description of Findings”.
We continue to be Southern California’s preferred termite and pest control service provider. We pride ourselves in being the number one provider of dependable and convenient pest control services so you can Enjoy Home.
Schedule a termite inspection with one of our local termite inspectors at www.termitepro.us or Contact us at 1(844)GOT.ANTS.