Well, if you’re a timber infestation surveyor like me, it usually means the Common Furniture Beetle Anobium punctatum. However, if you’re a house buyer, seller or any lay person, it usually means anything which has left holes in wood.
And there is the problem; woodworm is an emotive generic name. Anything with ‘worm’ in the name has got to be bad; shipworm, ring worm, tape worm….eeek!
Where there is fear – there is money to be earned;alleviating that fear….
So yesterday I find myself having to explain to my prospective client why I have not recommended treatment for the ‘woodworm’ in his kitchen floor, “When the other company found it – how come you missed it”?
I explain that the ‘woodworm’ in this Leeds terrace house is only the Wood Boring Weevil Euophryum confine, a species of insect which only ever infests rotting wood. The wet rot work we are doing will eliminate it – It is mentioned in my report, but I have not specified an insecticide – because there is never a need to use insecticidal fluids on it.
“But I’ve seen the holes” he exclaims “there’s woodworm and it could spread if it’s not treated”.
I explain some more….eventually he concedes and somewhat grudgingly appears to accept that the treatment of the floor timbers throughout the ground floor of his house, is not necessary to eradicate the Weevils – infesting the three rotten joists in his kitchen. I am yet to receive an order for the work though.
Now then, this client is a bright, professional chap and I have some credibility and qualifications too – so why did he struggle to accept the truth.?
It’s that damn name – Woodworm…you see, that is what the specialist company he called in called it….”infestation by woodworm in the kitchen floor joists and floorboards……spray all floor timbers with insecticidal fluids…”
I note that the opening paragraph of this specialist company’s report says (I paraphrase), “…we do not recommend works unless they are essential”.
You see, if you say something with conviction – people believe it – even when it’s total boll**ks – followed by more total boll**ks…
It helps if you use generic terms too, so it is hard to prove ill intent. Woodworm for instance is not a scientific name so nobody can prove just what the ‘specialist’ thought he saw.
That is why all Property Care Association members and reputable surveyors involved in timber infestations use a bit of Latin in their reports. It’s not for bamboozelment – or pretention. It’s for the protection of customers and for reasons of accuracy.
If you are offered ‘woodworm’ treatment..get a second opinion and ask the surveyor to identify the species… exactly.
PS – Brick-Tie Preservation have just recieved an order for the Wet Rot treatments on the above project: Preservation expert 1 : Unqualified specialist 0.