[Termite Control] Are Annual Inspections Performed On Time?

Do pest management firms actually perform their annual WDO inspections? The Georgia Department of Agriculture set out to find the answer.

An annual inspection is one of the basic principles of wood-destroying organism (WDO) control by providing early detection and ongoing protection of structures under a renewable control contract. These inspections are often considered to be the linchpin or cornerstone for providing this detection and protection. The inspection usually involves the probing and sounding of visible and accessible areas of a structure where the WDOs, usually termites, are likely to be found.

Most renewable contracts provide for an annual inspection as part of the terms and conditions for the renewal. However, there is a growing trend to issue contracts that only require a "periodic" inspection. These "periodic inspections" are often at the request of the homeowner or as deemed necessary by the pest management professional. Yet, there appears to be little information available to indicate if these inspections are actually being performed and if performed, at what interval.

In mid 2005 the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) undertook a project to determine if these inspections were being performed and if performed, at what interval. The project sought to answer two questions:

• What percentage of contracts require an
annual inspection vs. a periodic inspection?

• What is the actual inspection interval of these contracts?


THE SURVEY. Georgia’s pest management professionals typically receive a comprehensive office inspection from the GDA at least once a year. From Sept. 1, 2005, through April 27, 2006, GDA inspectors conducted surveys during these inspections to collect contract inspection information.

The rules of the Georgia Structural Pest Control Act, which regulates Georgia’s pest management professionals, requires that monthly reports of all new WDO contracts be maintained for at least two years. These monthly reports were used as the basis for the survey. The rules also require WDO contracts to indicate whether or not re-inspections of the structure are to be made and the approximate interval of these re-inspections.

All companies that were licensed to perform WDO control work prior to Jan. 1, 2002, were considered to be eligible to be surveyed as part of this project. There were 701 eligible companies. And 311, representing 44.3 percent of eligible companies, were surveyed. Up to five randomly selected currently active (under a current renewal) contracts from the monthly reports were reviewed per company. The company was not advised in advance of the survey.

If the survey was conducted from Sept. 1, 2005, through Dec. 31, 2005, monthly reports from 2003 were reviewed. If the survey was conducted from Jan. 1, 2006 through April 27, 2006, monthly reports from 2004 were reviewed.

GDA inspectors reviewed each contract and collected the following information:

1. The contract effective date.

2. Inspection type (annual or periodic). If the inspection type was not available on the contract, the inspection interval was identified as "missing."

3. The inspection date(s). There would have been either one or two inspection dates depending on the age of the contract.

The data was collected in Microsoft Access, analyzed using SAS and reported in Microsoft Excel.


RESULTS. The following are results gleaned from our research of inspections.


Question #1

What percentage of contracts require an annual inspection vs. a periodic inspection?


Answer #1

A total of 1,242 eligible contracts were reviewed. Of these, 650 or 52.3 percent required an annual inspection, 571 (45.9 percent) required a periodic inspection and 21 (1.8 percent) did not list the inspection interval.


Question #2

What is the actual inspection interval of these contracts?

Answer #2

It is reasonable to assume that due to scheduling issues and other factors, the actual inspection will not always take place on or before the actual anniversary of the contract. An assumption was made that it would be reasonable to expect that inspections could be scheduled and performed within three months of the contract’s anniversary date.

The results were broken down into five categories:

• On time (on or before the contract’s anniversary date)

• On time plus three months (13 to 15 months after the contract’s anniversary date)

• Performed between 16 to 18 months after the contract’s anniversary date

• Performed 19 months or more after the contract’s anniversary date

• Not performed


For the first inspection interval results, 1,242 contracts were reviewed. The results were as follows (see chart on page 48):

• On time = 49 percent

• On time plus 3 months = 22 percent

• Between 16 and 18 months = 4 percent

• After 18 months = 7 percent

• Not performed = 18 percent


For the second inspection interval results, 813 contracts were reviewed. The results were as follows (see chart at right):

• On time = 48 percent

• On time plus 3 months = 16 percent

• Between 16 and 18 months = 2 percent

• After 18 months = 0 percent

• Not performed = 34 percent


CONCLUSIONS. Based on this study, contracts that called for an annual inspection were far more likely to receive an on time or on time plus three months inspection (annual 78 percent vs. periodic 65 percent) in the first year. While not as significant, second year inspection rates also showed a similar trend (annual 67 percent vs. periodic 61 percent).

Overall, the industry provided 71 percent of contracts in this study with an on time or on time plus three months inspection during the first year. The number receiving an on time or on time plus three months inspection fell to 64 percent during the second year.

Overall, 18 percent of contracts in this study did not receive an inspection at all during the first year with this number jumping to 34 percent the second year.

It appears that most consumers are receiving a timely inspection during the first two years of the contract. However, about 18 percent did not receive an inspection during the first year and almost 34 percent did not receive an inspection during the second year of their renewable contract.

If the annual inspection is truly one of the basic principles for providing early detection and protection against WDOs in structures, greater effort needs to be made to ensure that consumers receive these inspections in a timely manner.

James P. Harron is the director of the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Structural Pest Control Regulatory Program. Derrick T. Lastinger is agriculture manager for the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Structural Pest Control Regulatory Program. Robert A. Card is a private consultant with more than 10 years experience conducting statistical analysis of data for a variety of industries.

 

January 2007
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