Full Guide to Professional Termite Inspections for Home Inspectors

January 12, 2023 | 
termite inspection

In significant real estate financial transactions — an initial termite inspection is a critical step toward transparency for the buyer and the seller.

Although professional termite inspectors complete the detailed pest control inspection, the initial reports and findings of a Home Inspector provide the initial scope to protect and enlighten real estate buyers and sellers.

One of the worst discoveries during a home inspection is finding termite damage. These pesky insects can destroy a home’s infrastructure, leading to complete renovation or expensive repair costs.

Since every ethical Home Inspector must provide factual, non-biased information about the quality of any property, understanding their role in checking for termites is a vital component of their scope of business.

This is what we’ll uncover in this article. In the information below, we’ll explain the facts about complete home termite inspections for Home Inspectors.

We will explain the warning signs of termite infestation, the key steps any Home Inspector can take to check for termites, and answer some FAQs about termite inspections.

What is a Termite Inspection?

It is essential to complete a termite inspection to safeguard future homeowners from destruction by these little pests. A professional termite inspector will utilize specialized methods and instruments during the examination to properly detect any signs of an infestation.

A Home Inspector should complete initial termite testing screenings and discovery for termite damage, report their findings on the inspection report, and recommend a course of action.

Inspecting for visible signs like mud tubes or discarded wings is essential to detect a potential termite infestation. Furthermore, search for structural damage that could indicate the presence of these pests, and be sure to check areas known to harbor them.
At this point, the homeowner can determine if termite treatment or renovation projects are warranted.

Do Home Inspectors Check for Termites?

Not generally. While termite home inspections can detect signs of termite activity, home and termite inspections are completely different services that serve unique purposes. Additionally, all states require distinct licensing for each one as well.

To understand the distinction between these two inspections, it is essential to comprehend what each inspector does and the terminology utilized.

Professional Home Inspections are essential for anyone looking to purchase a property. It’s an in-depth investigation of the home and its structures, which includes examining all electrical wiring, plumbing systems, roofing materials, heating and cooling elements — even the exterior components.

An inspector will thoroughly inspect every aspect of a house. Hence, the future buyer knows exactly what they are getting when it comes time to decide.

A Termite Inspection is a slang term for an intensive Wood Destroying Organism (WDO) inspection, otherwise known as the CL-100 report. This assessment will involve meticulously observing potential termites and fungi threats in the home from ground level to the first floor.

Inspectors will enter attic spaces, if possible, to further check roof structure integrity.

Though some home inspectors may hold both licenses, it’s rare — especially in states with stringent regulations. In States without regulatory guidelines, some Home Inspectors offer a free termite inspection — while others charge a premium for this add-on.

Organizations like InterNACHI and ASHI provide courses on wood-destroying organisms that assist inspectors in recognizing agents like termites, carpenter ants, borer bees, and fungi.

These programs equip home inspectors with the knowledge to effectively inspect properties for these organisms and identify any potential associated risks.

What Does a Termite Inspection Consist Of?

An inspector or pest control company will inspect the building thoroughly inside and outside to assess any potential damage from a termite problem.

Several individual steps are completed during an official pest inspection.

  • Examining all visible areas of the structure is paramount for ascertaining if it has suffered external or internal harm due to these pesky bugs.
  • The inspector will thoroughly inspect a home. Every nook and cranny, from basements (where applicable) to attics, closets, baseboards, window frames, and doorframes, is carefully examined for any signs or evidence of termites.
  • Special attention is given to bathrooms, kitchens, drywall, and utility rooms due to their underground plumbing that can provide pathways for termites with a home’s wood structures.
  • After surveying the property’s exterior, the inspector will search for cracks or crevices, termite mud tubes, and damage to wooden structures.
  • Once they have finished this task, they will scan neighboring areas for potential indications of wood damage caused by a termite infestation.
  • Finally, all findings during the inspection process will be documented in an official report. This report will outline a course of action to fumigate and kill termites, nests, and other parasites.
  • The final report will include repair recommendations – often in collaboration with a Home Inspector.

At this point, the homeowner can determine if termite extermination should be completed by pest control services before the sale — or negotiated with the buyer to be finished after. However, since FHA and many lenders require this inspection to be approved for mortgage lending, it’s typically completed before the sale.

How to Check for Termites as a Home Inspector: 7-Step Guide to Professional Termite Inspections

Home inspectors are aware that moisture can result in structural damage to a home. Still, they also look for signs of humidity because it is ideal for subterranean termites.

So, how is a termite inspection done?

There are seven easy steps that a Home Inspector can complete to help identify potential termite threats.

Step 1 — Check for Buckling Floors

You can detect potential termite activity by closely inspecting every nook and cranny of the floor. Look for any buckling or warping in the wood structure that may have been caused by termites feasting on the damaged wood beneath.

Step 2 — Check for Hollow Surfaces

Using a screwdriver to tap on walls and other wooden structures is an excellent way to check for termites. If the surface appears hollow and you hear an empty sound, termite damage may be present.

Step 3 — Look for Termite Droppings

These critters leave behind small, dark pellets that they feed on. They are called termite droppings or frass, a combination of termite excrement and termite-eaten wood.

Step 4 — Check for Termite Mud Tubes

Termites create these to protect them as they travel through the ground. They are small, hollow tubes made from soil and termite saliva that can be found near foundation walls or other areas where termites can access the home.

Step 5 — Examine Wooden Structures

Termites particularly love wood, so pay close attention to any wooden structures such as furniture, walls, and windowsills for termite damage in terms of crumbling wood or sawdust.

Step 6 — Look for Signs of Swarms

These are termite “communities” that you may find near the home. They are usually found in low-lying areas and can help identify termite infestations. You’ll typically notice small mounds of what appear to be sawdust.

A few areas where indications of swarms exist include indoor and outdoor lights (specifically lighting receptacles in ceilings).

Step 7 — Look for Damage to Exterior Walls

Your termite inspection should include checking the exterior walls of the home, such as siding, brick, and stucco, which may have been weakened by termite damage.

Other inspection areas include the home’s foundation (particularly for termite shelter tubes) and nearby trees or vegetation.

What Do Termite Inspectors Look For? 5 Common Signs of Termites to Watch Out For

In termite inspections, there are five common signs that termites may have invaded a home.

  • Mud Tubes: As mentioned earlier, termites create tunnels of soil and saliva to protect them as they travel through the ground. These can be found near foundation walls or other access points to the home’s interior.
  • Termite Droppings: Termites leave small, dark pellets behind as they feed on wood. These termite droppings or frass are a telltale sign of termite activity.
  • Crumbling Wood: Termites will often eat away at the structure of wooden furniture and other structures, leaving behind crumbly wood that looks like sawdust or termite droppings.
  • Hollow Sounds: Tap on walls and other wooden structures with a screwdriver to check for termites. If the surface appears hollow and you hear an empty sound, termite damage may be present.
  • Discarded Wings: Like many insects, termites shed body parts as they grow. This includes their wings. When you notice a good volume of discarded insect wings, that might indicate a potential termite infestation.

Areas to Check During a Home Inspection for Termites

Besides examining your garage, attic, and crawl space — it would help to look for signs of termite infestation in other critical areas of any property you inspect.

Wooden Structures

Constructing a wooden structure like a deck, shed, carport, or arbor outdoors can be open to termite damage if the builder does not use the appropriate products. Every good Home Inspector knows what materials are designed to prevent termite damage. So, if you’re inspecting other ancillary wooden structures, look for indicators of termites as described above.

Cracks in Foundation Walls

Cracks in the foundation walls can provide termite access points to your home. These cracks should be sealed during the termite inspection and other vulnerable entry points like around door and window frames.

Trees and Vegetation Nearby

Termites seek out moisture, so they often build their colonies near trees and other vegetation they can use as a water source. Landscaping areas are others that can attract termites. If it’s discovered — a treatment plan can be recommended.

When termites find the right conditions, they can quickly spread to other parts of your property and, in some cases, even neighboring homes. So, it’s important to inspect any trees or nearby vegetation closely for termite damage when conducting a termite inspection during a home inspection.


Depending on where your clients live, they may have a nice stack of firewood on their property. But these piles are the makings of a termite feast. This also applies to wood mulch areas, garden boxes, and planters.

How Long Does a Termite Inspection Take?

A top-rated termite inspection should not take more than an hour, depending on the size and complexity of the home. Many home inspectors will add an initial termite inspection (when licensed or certified to complete this service — if mandated by the State they practice).

If you live in a state regulating Home Inspector services, check with the regulatory board on what is required to list this as a service you can offer clients.

Final Points on Termite Home Inspection

A termite inspection is essential in any home buying or selling process. If termites are present, they can cause considerable damage to a property, which could lead to expensive repair bills.

Therefore, home inspectors must be familiar with termite inspections and how to detect them during routine home inspections.
To accurately record your termite inspection findings, you need a convenient and efficient reporting tool — the ability to write detailed notes without internet or Bluetooth access.

HomeGauge has created its cloud-based Web Writer software that works wonderfully for inspectors who desire an app packed with reporting tools and a simple setup.

This program is fully accessible on many devices, such as mobile phones, PCs, tablets, and more. It also runs seamlessly across Windows and Mac platforms alike. Moreover, with the Mobile app, you can use The Web Writer’s features regardless of whether your device uses iOS (iPhone & iPad) or Android operating systems. It’s an excellent tool for any Home Inspector.

If you want to integrate a termite inspection into your service offerings or use any HomeGauge solutions to manage your business, call us.

Related FAQs

How do you prepare for a termite inspection?

To ensure your property is assessed accurately, it’s imperative to eliminate any hindrances from the exterior and interior before a termite inspection. Clear out all plants or debris surrounding the home for improved visibility of outer walls and foundation. Additionally, remove items away from skirting boards inside for the inspector to assess potential pest activity freely.

Do termite inspectors come inside the house?

Termite inspectors will typically inspect the home’s exterior first for termites or termite activity. This involves visually inspecting the foundation walls, windows, and doors. Then, the termite inspector will usually enter the home’s interior to look for termites in attics, crawl spaces, or other areas conducive to termite activity.

How long are termite inspections suitable for?

Typically, termite inspections are good for one to three years, depending on the State your home is in and other factors such as the type of termite inspection. Some termite companies may offer warranties that last up to five years. It’s essential to check with your termite company to learn more about termite services and any applicable warranties.

Are there any eco-friendly ways to get rid of termites?

Yes, many termite control methods use eco-friendly methods. For example, termite baits and pheromone traps use natural ingredients to attract termites from your home. Also, spraying boric acid or orange oil in termite-infested areas can help deter them without using toxic chemicals.

Engaging a termite professional for the best advice is vital, as different methods may be more appropriate depending on termite type and other factors.

Does FHA require termite inspections?

Yes, termite inspections are required for FHA home loans. A licensed termite professional should conduct this inspection within 60 days before the loan closes. The termite report must also include treatment recommendations for your loan to qualify for FHA mortgage insurance.

What is the average termite inspection cost, and who pays for termite inspection?

The termite inspection cost usually ranges from $50 to $150, depending on the size of the home. Generally, termite inspections are paid for by the seller as part of closing costs during a real estate transaction. However, checking with your termite company or realtor is essential before conducting any termite inspection.

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