Should I Buy a House with Woodworm? SAM Conveyancing's guide on spotting infestation before buying a house
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Should I Buy a House with Woodworm?

(Last Updated: 05/12/2023)
4 min read
Woodworm is the name given to the larvae of various types of beetles known to bore into wood when an adult female lays eggs in and around timber. The female can lay clusters of perhaps 50 eggs. The damage is caused as larvae emerge from the eggs and bore into the wood. Most of the life cycle of a woodworm beetle is spent in the larval stage which can last 2 - 5 years.

If you're trying to buy a property and your survey reveals a woodworm infestation, it is understandable why you would ask yourself: 'should I buy a house with woodworm?'.

Can I get a mortgage on house with woodworm?

Depending on how serious the infestation is, lenders might refuse to grant you a mortgage. In turn, they could make treating woodworm a condition before loaning you the amount you need.

When buying a house, you will need a Level 2 or Level 3 Survey and this will highlight any signs of woodworm. From there, you can get a specialist's help. You will need to prove that the woodworm problem has been fixed if you want to get a mortgage.

Should a surveyor pick up woodworm?

Yes, your surveyor will be able to pick up any signs of woodworm. Booking a home buyers survey is highly important if you are buying a property because an experienced RICS surveyor will have experience and training in spotting signs of woodworm. They can help give an answer to the question: should I buy a house with woodworm?

If you're buying with a mortgage, the lender might make it a condition for you to book this survey. However, if you're a cash buyer, or if you already own the property, you can also get a damp and timber survey.

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Is woodworm a serious problem?

Woodworm can cause significant damage to timber homes and remedying it may cost upwards of £1,000, however, replacing the damaged timber can additionally cost many £1,000s, depending on the amount of damage. There are many different types of woodworm, each requiring a different technique to remedy.
  • Common Furniture Beetle (Anobium Punctatum) - this is the most common in the UK and attacks softwood and the sapwood of European hardwoods.
  • House Longhorn Beetle - only attacks the sapwood of softwood timbers, rare in the UK.
  • Powderpost Beetle - causes damage to ash, elm and oak (all have a high starch content).
  • Deathwatch Beetle - prefers European hardwoods, especially oak, ash and chestnut. Larvae tunnel towards the centre of timber so damage may be more extensive than apparent from the exterior.

Can wood with woodworm be saved?

As stated, a timber specialist surveyor needs firstly to identify the species of woodworm, determine whether the infestation is still active and identify which timbers need replacing. The specialist removes timber which has been structurally weakened and replace it with pre-treated timber, then treat other affected woodwork.

Methods of treating woodworm include:
  • Surface application of pesticides
  • Freezing - only suitable for items of furniture infested with woodworm.
  • Fumigation - usually appropriate for Deathwatch Beetle infestation in large structural hardwoods. Adult beetles are literally smoked out during the annual flight season.
Generally, you can get rid of woodworms. If the problem is treated, it can be safe for you to make your purchase. Make sure you get a survey on your property, as this will give you the guidance you need.
Frequently Asked Questions
Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Written by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands-on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
Reviewed by:

Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

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