This is a cautionary tale that will hopefully educate and open your eyes to the realities of why it is absolutely imperative that you get a wildlife home inspection before purchasing a house. Like with most things in life, we assume it will never happen to us. Unfortunately for this Ontario couple, the purchase of their dream home quickly degenerated into an almost half a million dollar expense.
The reason? A bat infestation that had been left untreated for over a decade.
Especially in the current real estate climate, many people are forgoing even a traditional home inspection. This can prove to be a costly error in judgment. It stands to reason that for an investment of this scope all due diligence should be performed and information gathered. Traditional home inspectors are not trained too, and will not look for signs of animal entries or damage. This is why one of the smartest decisions you will make during the home buying process is paying the nominal fee to have a wildlife professional assess the property.
For the family in the story below; a quick phone call and a small inspection fee could have saved them from a $450,000 nightmare. Ouch.
Can Bats Damage a Home?
As their family was growing, upgrading their home was an inevitability. When a farmhouse in the husband's childhood town came up for sale, it seemed too good to be true. There was competition for the property as it was close to the city center yet still boasted enough acreage to afford tremendous privacy. Because it was a much older building, they skipped the home inspection process entirely as they wanted to get a bid in quickly. They knew they would be sinking thousands into renovations over the following years anyways.
In the spring of 2015, they invested their savings into this property.
It was not until 2017 once they started some more ambitious renovations that they discovered a decommissioned fireplace. Eventually, they noticed a few bats coming from the area. They were curious, did they have a bat colony in the old fireplace? Some nights they would see dozens fly out. For the first few months, it was entertaining and not yet a cause for concern. They just figured it came with the territory out in the country.
In time they removed the fireplace entirely and noticed many more bats than originally thought. May, many more.
Time to Get a Pro In
They contacted a local wildlife removal expert and set up an appointment. Much to their chagrin, for an inspection fee of $56.60 and less than an hour of their time, the technician informed them of the fact they have been hosting two different bat species colonies in their attic for over a decade. Littel Brown Bats as well as BigBrown bats. Two of the most common species found in Ontario.
They found piles of bat guano in places measuring 1.5 meters in height. The excrement had seeped into the wood in many places; this not only attracts more bats but renders remediation impossible. Plus, bat guano is exceptionally toxic. Exposure to air born spores can lead to humans contracting histoplasmosis, a potentially life-threatening disease.
The new homeowners were starting to realize the gravity of their situation.
Bats are a protected species in Ontario and therefore it is not possible to exterminate them. Therefore the only option is an exclusion process involving a one-way door system. This basically will allow the animals to leave and they will not be able to get back in. Assuming all potentially vulnerable areas can be protected. This process alone in this instance was estimated at $15,000.
Because the old farmhouse was so porous, it was next to impossible to protect from reentries. In fact, it was highly likely as they aggressively seek to return to their roost.
Because of local building codes and bylaws, they were seriously limited in their renovation options. After over a year of exploring various options, their only remaining option was to tear down the building completely and start from scratch.
The moral of the story is painfully simple and obvious. Get a wildlife home inspection before you invest your life savings. Please.
There are eight species of bats found in Ontario, but only little brown bats and big brown bats are commonly found in human-made structures like attics. Little brown bats, whose population has been decimated by a disease called white-nose syndrome, are considered endangered in Ontario, while big brown bats are not.
• A mother little brown bat consumes up to twice her own body weight in insects to provide milk for her baby, or “pup.” A colony of 300 bats will consume three kilograms of insects a night.