What Is A WDO Inspection? And Why Do They Cause Such Legal Issues?
A WDO inspection is carried out by an experienced pest control technician in order to see if there is a presence of wood destroying organisms in your home or commercial building.
WHAT ARE WDO’S?
WDO is an acronym for Wood Destroying Organisms. The most common types found in Northern California are the Drywood Termite, Subterranean Termite, and the Carpenter Ant. Dry rot or fungus damage are also WDO’s that should be looked out for and are more common than termites. Together they cause billions worth of
damage to persons and properties throughout the entire U.S. which is why a WDO inspection is so important. So who picks up the tab after these little pesky little creatures are done?
HOW CAN YOU IDENTIFY A WDO PROBLEM?
Firstly it is important to find out if you are being attacked by WDO’s. Termites & Ants leave calling cards around the property when they are present but for the untrained eye, you may miss them. They cause an estimated $5 billion worth of damage in the U.S. every year, so if in doubt always hire a professional. What to look out for:
- Floor damage: Does your floor feel spongy or soft? This could be down to it being gnawed away internally without you recognizing it until it’s too late. Your skirting boards could also be sagging as internally they have severe structural damage.
- There could be cracks in the internal walls and ceilings.
- Are the doors and windows opening/closing with ease? Or have they become misshapen due to internal damage caused, resulting in a less smooth process.
- Frass (feces and wood fragments) – The term used for termite droppings. A sure indicator that you have a termite issue.
- Mud tubes noted at the foundation, baseboards, windowsills, or walls.
- “Swarmers” can be spotted in the spring and fall. Thousands of winged termites fly from nests, often in the building/home where they look to build a new colony (look like ants with wings).
- You find ants foraging for food anywhere in your home (they like sweet stuff and meat)
- You have noticed that there are winged ants in your home, this is a sign that the colony is well established and these are looking for other areas to start a new one
- These ants have extremely neat nests, so that wood they have cleared out most go somewhere. Check for wood shavings that have been deposited nearby, this will indicate a nest
- There could be the ‘rustling’ sound of these ants going to work on your home
WHAT DAMAGES ARE SUSTAINED DUE TO WDO DAMAGE?
Personal Injury – Did a weakness in the structure caused you to sustain serious personal injuries. Did these happen in your own home, or at a place of business? These injuries can range from cases like falling through floorboards, beams collapsing above you, to having irrigation pipes and electrics exposed through the walls. If this has happened to you or somebody you know, you need to contact a personal injury lawyer immediately. You may be due to workers’ compensation or a settlement if a standard WDO inspection was not carried out.
Property Damage – As mentioned above, if the property you own or are leasing has been damaged due to termite or any other WDO damage you could be entitled to compensation. Has your business property become a safety hazard for consumers and employees? Have you had to close down resulting in a loss of income? Ceilings collapsing, severe water damage, and causing electrical systems to become unsafe are common occurrences in properties that are affected by WDO’s.
WHAT IS PEST CONTROL LITIGATION?
Pest control litigation is the lawful process of acquiring compensation for injuries/damages (both personal and property) through the court system. It is usually used to determine who is at fault for these injuries and how much should be paid to the victim.
WHO IS TO BLAME FOR WDO DAMAGE?
Pest control can be as much a legal issue as it is a safety hazard. But who is liable? This is where it can get tricky. The majority of the time the pest control company will get the blame. When transferring ownership of a property or at the beginning of a lease a pest control company is usually involved to conduct an initial inspection (more on that below). If the inspection was not up to industry standard and the results come back incorrectly as negative for the presence of WDO’s than the pest control company is likely to be liable for damages caused. That is why it is vital that inspections are completed by the book, not only do we want to provide you with the best service that you can trust, we also need to cover ourselves in case there are issues further down the line. That is why at Pegasus we can take pride that there has never been an issue with litigation, our work is completely up to industry standards and we take great professional pride in guaranteeing our customers satisfaction and trust.
If you are leasing property for personal or business reasons and an initial inspection was not done, your landlord or property owner may be liable.
WHAT LAWS ARE THERE IN CALIFORNIA TO DO WITH WDO’S?
In regards to renting a property, yes there is. According to the California Civil Code 1941.1, when you rent a home it is implied that it is habitable. This means that the property needs to meet the health and safety standards that are set out by law. When it comes to habitability, WDO’s are a big factor. If there is evidence of their presence it is up to the landlord to deal with it. They are obligated to contact a reputable and fully licensed pest control company to sort the issue out. Tenants may be allowed to withhold rent if their landlord has been notified and has yet done nothing to remedy the situation. If relocation is in order there is usually compensation for this ordeal, either the rent can be on a pro-rata basis, or the landlord can put you up in additional accommodation.
WHAT IS THE STRUCTURAL PEST CONTROL ACT?
The act is a set of guidelines that are set out by the Structural Pest Control Board in California. In layman’s terms, The Structural Pest Control Act requires inspection of only those areas of which are visible and accessible at the time of inspection. Some areas of the structure are not accessible to inspection, such as the interior of hollow walls, spaces between floors, areas concealed by carpeting, appliances, furniture or cabinets. Infestation or infections may be active in these areas without visible and accessible evidence. If you desire information about areas that were not inspected, a further inspection may be performed at an additional cost. Typically carpets, furniture, or appliances are not moved and windows are not opened during a routine inspection.
WHAT DOES A WDO INSPECTION REPORT LOOK LIKE?
The standard WDO inspection report has three sections to it, each of which is an additional level of detail to the inspection.
WDO INSPECTION SECTION 1
This section contains items where there is evidence of an active infestation, infection, or infestations that have resulted in or from infestation or infection.
An example would be if we find fungus damage to the eaves or the bathroom floor or if we find an active infestation of Subterranean Termites, Drywood Termites, or Carpenter Ants. Most sales agreements require these items to be repaired.
WDO INSPECTION SECTION 2
These items are conditions deemed likely to lead to infestation or infection, but where no visible evidence of such was found.
These items are items such as earth to wood contact. If the soil is in contact with the wood, it will eventually cause fungus damage or allow easy access for Subterranean Termites. A plumbing leak will cause fungus damage if it is not repaired. Additionally, items like cracked tiles or missing grout in a shower or sink, leaky gutters, or a faulty grade causing water to drain towards the structure are all section 2 items.
WDO INSPECTION SECTION 3
Further inspection items are defined as recommendations to inspect the area(s), which during the original inspection did not allow the inspector access to complete the inspection and cannot be defined under either of the above sections.
A common section 3 item would be storage along the exterior of the home or in the garage that prevents us from viewing the siding and foundation. We will request the items be moved and a supplemental inspection is completed. Water stains (dry at the time of inspection) on ceilings or walls adjacent to tub/shower are very common and are often the most troublesome. If we note a dry water stain on the ceiling we will request that it be opened for further inspection and that a roofer inspect the roof. This will likely cost around $1,000 combined. Perhaps the seller had a new roof installed a few years ago and they all agree it’s an old stain. This would be great until next winter when the roof leaks and a pest control company gets the blame. Another example is a dry swollen baseboard or a water stain adjacent to the shower, which is often attributed to over splash. If nothing is done and the new owner discovers the shower door doesn’t seat properly or there is a leak in a drain, etc. These items are often the ones that cause the greatest of problems. Owners do not want to spend money on items that may or may not be an issue. Many times a property will be sold and the section 3 items were not addressed before the sale. The new buyer occupies the property and six months or a year later discovers they have a major issue on their hands. That is why it is so important to do your due diligence.
ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF WDO INSPECTIONS?
There are 2 different types of inspections:
COMPLETE WDO INSPECTIONS
We inspect all the visible and accessible areas of the structure, both inside and outside of the property. We report all sections 1, 2, and 3 items.
LIMITED WDO INSPECTIONS
We inspect only a specific area of the property. Often we will get calls from people who believe they have termites in the living room or kitchen. We will go out and inspect only that part of the property. While we are there because they believe there are termites, we are required to report all sections 1, 2, and 3 items we see in that area. Not just termites. We are not allowed to do a limited inspection for a specific pest, only to an area. We would always suggest getting a full inspection done, as you might not be aware of other parts of the property being attacked. It is always better to be safe rather than sorry.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES TO HAVING A WDO INSPECTION EVERY FEW YEARS?
This point speaks for itself as the initial access point in time for WDO’s can occur at any time. The biggest advantage is that it can prevent a minor infestation from becoming a major problem. Take for example the following:
If we find a minor plumbing leak under the sink in an office break room it is an easy fix. But say you don’t suspect it is because of the presence of WDO(s) and the leak continues for an extended period of time (say a year or more). Severe water damage can occur resulting in a collapse of the structure. Suddenly you’re facing a major operation in order to repair the property. The advantage of an inspection is to find minor issues, look beyond the obvious, and prevent a major problem from occurring. The biggest issue we see is that inspections are only done at the time of a sale or a refinance of a property.
If you suspect that your property or the property that you are leasing might be under attack you should contact a fully licensed and professional pest control company to perform inspecting immediately. We at Pegasus Pest Control are proud to offer free limited inspections, call us today on (888) 885-5017 or you can submit an online application form.