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Understanding a Wood Destroying Organism (WDO) Inspection Report

For those in the process of buying or selling a home, you are likely to receive a home inspection report detailing the state of various home components, systems, and structures. During this process, you can opt for a wood destroying organism (WDO) inspection, which will uncover any visible insect infestations or fungal infections that pose a threat to the integrity of wood in your home.  A WDO inspection is very important for both buyers and sellers, as it provides a clear and exhaustive summary of the damage to the visible and accessible areas of the home.  Specifically, if the home is actively infested with insects or infected with wet rot or dry rot, as well as conditions that are deemed likely to lead to infestation or infection. The report is formatted to include all findings and associated recommendations along with repair estimates and bids.  WDO reports in California are governed by the Structural Pest Board. If you are for whatever reason unsatisfied with the initial report, you have a right to a second opinion. Reports prepared by various companies should list the same findings (i.e. termite  infestations, damage, fungus damage, etc.).  However, the recommendations to correct these findings may vary from company to company. 

What are wood destroying organisms?

Wood destroying organisms (WDOs) are any organism that impacts the structural integrity of wood. These include termites, wood-boring beetles, and fungus like dry rot or wet rot Termites: Termite infestations are a common problem in and around the Sacramento region, probably owing to the fact that termites thrive at temperatures between 75°F to 95°F. They can cause extensive structural damage to wood structures. Once established, they are difficult to get rid of—they quickly reproduce and are very hardy creatures. There are two types of termites: Subterranean termites and Drywood termites. Subterranean termites live in soil and burrow below ground. They only come to the surface to feed on wood or wood-like surfaces, or to leave their colony to establish a new one elsewhere. Drywood termites actually live inside the wood that they infest, and they prosper in dry, hot climates. Both termites can destroy entire wood structures if left unchecked. In the Northern California region, Subterranean termites reproduce in the spring months, resulting in increased subterranean termite populations leading into the summer. Drywood termites reproduce during late summer, and their populations peak leading into fall.  Wood-boring beetles: There are three distinct types of wood-boring beetles—powderpost, deathwatch, and false powderpost. Each type invades and destroys wood on the interior and exterior of homes and other buildings. The beetle larvae feed on and do most of the damage to wood. When they reach the adult stage, the beetles escape through exit holes, which they create by chewing through the wood surface. Adults of some species can also bore exit holes through non-wood plaster, plastic, and even soft metals that might cover the underlying wood. Just as with termites, beetles can cause significant structural damage to wood members, and are likewise tough to eliminate.  Dry rot and wet rot: Dry rot and wet rot are types of fungus which require excessive moisture to survive.  Wet rot (Coniophora puteana) exists within damp pieces of timber that have moisture content around 50%. The fungus causes brown-rot in hardwood and conifer wood, two types of timber often found in homes. The infection breaks down timber, resulting in soft, spongy wood.  Dry rot (Serpula lacrymans) affects wood much the same way as wet rot, but is considered more harmful as the fungus tends to spread across the entire timber regardless of moisture content. The infection will also result in soft, spongy wood.

As noted above, the WDO inspection report explains if there is any visible evidence of active infestation or infection by insects or other organisms, and suggests the necessary steps to correct the problem.

When you receive the report, there will be various sections detailing the scope of the inspection, and describing what was found. The first and second page detail the scope of the inspection, including if the report is a Complete Report, Limited Report, Supplemental Report, or Reinspection Report. You are likely to receive a Complete Report, unless a professional inspector indicates otherwise prior to the inspection. The second page explains the scopes and limitations of the final report, including the areas which were inaccessible or not inspected for WDOs.  The third page is the Description of Findings. Here is where you will learn about the WDOs that were found, the damage done, a repair recommendation, and an estimated repair price. This section will conclude with a total estimated repair price, which will give you a good idea of how much you’ll have to pay to eliminate WDOs and bolster the structural integrity of your home. Continuing down, you will find more notes about the inspection as well as legal notices pursuant to the performed work.  Finally, if the inspection company that you contracted for the report also performs repairs, you’ll have the option to place a work order agreement for the recommended repairs.  Note that you have the right to order a second inspection report from a different company, if for some reason you do not agree with the first, or just want added peace of mind. 

When buying a home, who pays for WDO repairs—the buyer or the seller?

While some home inspection findings are negotiable, issues that pose a threat to the structure of a home are most often paid for by the seller. This is especially true if potential home buyers place a contingency on the final sale of the home. For example, a sale contingency that includes a home inspection prior to complete the sale (a common contingency!) allows the buyers to walk away in the case that repairs are not made.  However, this is not true of every sale, so be sure to discuss the matter with your realtor or real estate lawyer.  If you’re buying or selling a home, or otherwise want a WDO inspection, contact the experts at North American Home Services. Our staff specialize in WDO inspections, and we can provide you with a clearly written report with recommended solutions and repair estimates. We also repair termite and rot damage, and can fix many structural issues. Contact us today!

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