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Pest problems in new homes: more common than you might think

When you build a home, you expect it to be free from the costly issues that commonly plague older construction. You certainly don't expect to move into a brand new home with a pest problem.

However, many Florida homeowners with new construction find themselves in this stressful situation. The most common pests - termites - can cause extensive damage and are tricky to exterminate.

An ounce of prevention...

In new homes, pest prevention starts before construction is completed, and even begins with laying the foundation. Contractors should follow pre-treatment protocols such as applying a chemical barrier around the foundation and wood framing. They should also install baiting and monitoring stations, and apply termiticide if there's any evidence of a colony. Finally, before the home chances hands, a thorough inspection should shed light on any signs of an infestation (or vulnerabilities that could lead to an infestation).

How construction defects can open to the door to these pests

Any number of construction defects can cause moisture buildup and open up access points, which in turn can lead to devastating termite infestations. Some of the most common causes include:

  • -Inadequate grading, which can result in poor drainage
  • -Improper plumbing, which can cause leaks that provide the moisture termites need to thrive
  • -Poorly sealed foundations that give termites access to the structure
  • -Defective roofing, whether in terms of design, workmanship or materials
  • -Landscaping that allows moisture to form around the foundation
  • -Installation of below-grade siding or stucco (which gives termites an entrance, as they can easily bore through these materials)
  • -Foam insulation or wood that comes into contact with the soil

Watch out for these signs

How do you know if your home has been invaded by termites?

Signs of these unwanted house guests may include:

  • -Swarmers (flying termites) around your home, especially at night during the spring and summer
  • -Discarded wings in windowsills and corners
  • -The presence of tiny wooden pellets from termites boring through the walls
  • -Pencil-sized "mud tubes" that provide a path for termites to follow
  • -A blistered appearance on wooden surfaces (which indicates tunneling underneath)

Unfortunately, it's easy to overlook these signs, as they aren't always apparent. Your home may have already sustained extensive damage by the time the infestation comes to light.

If it turns out that a construction defect - or negligence on the part of a contractor - contributed to the infestation, you may have a legal claim for compensation.

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