Rodents in the attic and not included on home inspection!

11 Replies

We bought a triplex two months ago and moved into one of the units. Since we've bought the house, the long-term tenants in the other two units have paid their rents on time and have been generally pleasant. Good news, according to plan.

What wasn't in the plan was one tenant complaining about hearing some kind of rodent in the walls. We called the exterminator and had them set traps, and the tenant confirmed that she doesn't hear them anymore. Good deal.

Then the exterminator company sent in a inspector this afternoon, who went up into the attic to look around--he showed me pictures of it and it's a disaster. There are nests and dark spots everywhere (ugh). He recommended having the edges of the insulation replaced with pest-repellent insulation...to the tune of $4500. Ouch.

As I mentioned above, we just purchased the building two months ago and had a full home inspection done---the inspector included the attic space and said it was in acceptable condition on all counts with no additional comments. Can we make some kind of claim against the home inspector? Is there some kind of warranty for that? This is our first home purchase and we really need advice.

Thanks in advance!

If you read the agreement/home inspection report from the inspector, you will see your answer is no.  Generally, their total liability might be returning your inspection fee.

@Heather Moreland sorry to hear about your situation however I know that the inspector I use has language in the contract that absolves them from liability post inspection.  I would try calling the company and speaking to the owner/supervisor to see what they are willing to do.  You can also let them know that you will be writing a review of your experience with the company if things are not ironed out.

My inspection reports have always included pictures. If they claimed no problems, did they include at least one attic picture showing their perspective? I agree with everyone that you might get a refund, at most.

That's terrible! As far as I know, there isn't much you can do except just repair the damages yourself.

Does your home inspection include pest and wood destroying organism inspection too?  In my area regular home inspection is only for structural and mechanical and pest is extra fee which most of them sub to a local pest control company.

Rodents are usually disclaimed by inspectors because inspections are considered non invasive, visual inspection. Rodents can be hard to find without removing materials. That said If I see evidence of rodents, like mouse droppings, I will include it in my report as well as the attic inspection method and pictures of the insulation if accessible.

Before you buy into "pest resistant insulation" I would step back, and get a second and third opinion. What kind of rodent, rats or mice? Field mice usually want a warm place to nest so you have to ask why are the pests in the attic? Are they looking to stay warm? Is there a food source nearby? Then try and figure out how are they getting in. Is the property around the home free of food/trash and hiding places? Are they coming from the neighbors? 

Hope this helps.

So pretty much, if an inspector totally lets you down, tough luck?

A few months after inspection would be hard to prove that the mice were up there during the inspection.

$4500 for... mice?

Get yourself some traps, and repeat. I had mice in my place last year. It set me back about $4.50 to get rid of them. Not a pleasant task, but easy DIY. 

How many mice are we talking here, hundreds?  Have they chewed electrical cables or wood structure?

Pest resistant insulation = load. of. crap. You need chemicals and traps. Bait buckets work well, then they don't run back to the insulation. There's some pest chemicals now that dry them up so if they run back into the attic insulation, they don't smell. Pour a bottle of wolf/fox urine around the perimeter. Seal up cracks. Clean up wood piles, trash, etc.

Originally posted by @Kevin Manz :

So pretty much, if an inspector totally lets you down, tough luck?

Pretty much.  All the inspection reports I have seen have so much disclaimers and waivers on both the liability and scope and extra verbage to recommend hiring a professional plumber, professional electrician, professional structural engineer etc...for each sub section to qualify their findings.

Its a quick visual inspection.  Nothing more.  It's doesn't guard against any future failures, it doesn't catch all existing problems, and it doesn't have anything to do with code non-compliance.  I kind of use inspection for two purposes only - first, as a proof reader who might catch something I missed, and two, as a bargaining chip to possibly get the seller to lower the price.

You need to confirm what kind of rodents.  Mice. rats, possum, raccoon, squirrels etc?  A qualified pest control tech can tell from the appearance and size of the droppings.

Some rodents do not live inside the house, they nest outside and they come into your home to search for food.  Those can be easily dealt with by patching whatever penetration you have to your attic.  Typically chicken wire to soffit vents and holes on the wall.

If there is an active nest, say rats, there is a bait that you can put in the attic. It can be placed inside a hollow tubing in an area of recent activity.  The bait are then eaten, the rats will be dehyrated and go search for water - typically outside the house to a ditch or gutter or canal or wherever - the key is the bait kills them slow and make them go outside to die.  Make sure you clean your gutter of leaves so the gutter doesn't become a water source.  Once the rats are all gone - by monitoring the activity level in the attic - say 4 weeks, you can patch the penetration into your attic.  Total cost to have this done by a professional pest control company down here in Miami, about $250.

Every year my crawl space gets a few mice in the fall. I set traps around the perimeter, and catch a few. None in the house. Bait with peanut butter, and put the traps everywhere. A few extra dollars and you'll catch them all. Go up every day for a week and remove the carcasses. (That's so gross to type!) After one week of no dead mice, go up weekly for a month to double check. 

Mindy Jensen, Real Estate Agent in CO (#FA100049656)

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