The presence of woodworm on your property shouldn’t affect your decision to purchase. The problem can be treated, and unless it’s severe, it won’t damage the structure. Negotiations can also be opened with the seller before contracts are exchanged.

The woodworm is not actually a worm, despite its name. The larval stage of wood-boring beetles is called a woodworm. Timber in buildings can become infested with the pest. The RICS Home Survey Levels 2 and 3 can detect previous or live beetle infestations. A damp property and an area with condensation are typical habitats for wood-boring beetles.

1. The most common signs of woodworm

Woodworm will first appear as small holes in wooden surfaces. Woodworm is characterised by the following symptoms:

  • Timber with small exit holes

  • Bore dust around the hole which will look like sawdust

  • Damaged wood such as weak floorboards

  • An infestation is indicated by dead beetles

  • The presence of live beetles suggests a live infestation

It does not necessarily mean that there is an active infestation if these signs are present. An infestation may have occurred previously. In an active infestation, you’ll see ‘frass’ around any holes, which looks like sawdust.

There may be wood damage in your home due to woodworm, but it can be harmless. The infestation could be extreme in this case.

2. Which beetles are the worst?

Different types of wood-boring insects cause different amounts of damage. Woodworms can be found in properties in the following types:

Common furniture beetle

The most common type of beetle found on properties is this one. 75% of infestations are caused by this pest and it can be found in both hardwoods and softwoods.

Wood-boring weevil

Wet rot and damp timber are common sources of this type of infestation.

House longhorn beetle

Timber is most commonly damaged by the house longhorn beetle, which lives in damp wood. As well as laying 200 eggs, they are capable of reproducing rapidly.

Powderpost beetle

In addition to oak, ash, sycamore, and walnut wood, this type of beetle is attracted to other types of wood as well. Window frames, flooring, and paneling all contain it.

3. Woodworm is checked by surveyors in what ways?

A RICS Home Survey Level 2 or Level 3, formerly known as a Building Survey, is required when buying a house. Woodworm and other damp or timber issues may be revealed by these tests. If there have been infestations in the past or present, your surveyor will let you know.

Your survey will usually highlight woodworm under the ‘roof structure’ section. They will be familiar with common infestation sites, such as timber in the roof. Their recommendations will be based on what they find.

Property Care Association (PCA) contractors are typically recommended by surveyors for woodworm surveys. In addition, they may suggest having a damp survey and consulting a timber specialist.

4. Woodworm in a house: Should I buy it?

When your property survey reveals woodworm, you may wonder if you should proceed with the purchase. Woodworm rarely causes structural damage. Woodworm can also be treated with insecticides.

The seller might be willing to negotiate if there is a serious infestation. Either they can arrange for the infestation’s removal or cover the costs. Depending on the severity of the infestation, professional woodworm treatment can cost between £500 and £1,000.

You should state whether this is an urgent matter in your survey report. Mild cases of woodworm, however, are generally considered more of a nuisance than a serious threat. If you take all the necessary precautions, a minor case of woodworm shouldn’t prevent you from purchasing your dream home.

5. What can you do to prevent woodworm?

Woodworm rarely cause serious damage, but preventing or treating them is important to prevent them from spreading. In order to prevent woodworm from entering your home, there are certain steps you can take.

1. A high moisture content in timber attracts beetles. Maintain a low humidity level in that area or your house to prevent any new infestations.

2. Treat damp or rotten timber to prevent wood-boring beetles from laying their eggs. If you have wood in your home, ensure that it is dry and well ventilated. Rotten timber should also be treated.

3. If you are buying second-hand wood furniture, check for signs of woodworm. Make sure you have it treated before bringing it into your home if it is present.

FAQs about woodworms

How Common is Woodworm?

Woodworm is likely to have infested most period properties. There is a risk of infestation if your property was built before 1945. In newer and more modern homes, it is less common.

Does insurance cover it?

Damage caused by woodworms is often considered part of the wear and tear of a property. In most cases, buildings insurance will not cover it. Be sure to check what your insurance covers so you know what to expect.

Approximately how much does a woodworm survey cost?

An average woodworm survey costs £80-£250 in the UK, according to Checkatrade.

What does Woodworm smell like?

There is no smell associated with woodworms themselves. Moisture in timber attracts woodworm beetles, which cause a musty smell.