Termite inspections benefit from Georgia building code changes


January 21, 2022

Photo: arkady2013/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Photo: arkady2013/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Spray foam insulation that covers the majority of a structure has hampered termite inspections for pest management professionals (PMPs) across the country. But in Georgia, a couple of changes to the state’s building code has made the task easier as of Jan. 1.

The product often is used to improve energy efficiency in basements, crawlspaces and attics because when it hardens, it seals gaps to keep out air and moisture. It is sprayed onto foundation walls, sill plates, band boards and joists. But depending on where it is applied, PMPs may not be able to see evidence of termite infestations.

“Termite control has gotten so much better over the years with the products and techniques we use,” says Chris Gorecki, VP of Operational Support for Atlanta, Ga.-based Rollins Inc. “But at the end of the day, protection of a structure relies on being able to conduct a visual inspection.”

Gorecki, the 2019-2020 president of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), is currently chairman of Georgia’s Structural Pest Control Commission. The Commission, which is a division of the Georgia Department of Agriculture, successfully led an effort to amend the Georgia Energy Conservation Code. Now, spray foam applicators are required to insulate the rim joist/box sill area in basements and crawlspaces with removable insulation so PMPs can conduct a visual inspection.

Specifically, two sections in the code changed: One pertains to crawlspace construction; the other pertains to basement construction. The Georgia Energy Conservation Code now provides clear direction on how the rim joist/box sill area must be insulated when spray foam insulation is applied.


For years, an effort has been underway to warn consumers that spray foam insulation, depending on where it is applied, may cover areas of a structure PMPs must see to conduct a proper termite inspection.

Consumer alerts were issued by the NPMA, the Georgia Pest Control Association, and Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black to educate consumers and advise them to check with their pest control providers before having spray foam insulation installed.

“Not only are they losing their termite protection, but the pest control industry is losing the ability to protect customers,” Gorecki says. “The last thing PMPs want is to not be able to protect customers for any reason.”


Spray foam has been used to insulate homes since the 1980s, and is a solution for homeowners who want to improve energy efficiency. PMPs do not have a problem with its use — Gorecki readily admits it’s an effective product. But when spray foam is applied in a way that covers certain structural elements, PMPs are unable to effectively inspect a home for termite damage.

“Your energy bill is one thing, but thousands of dollars’ worth of termite damage in your home is another,” he says. “Our approach from the beginning was to find a solution that’s beneficial to consumers so they can enjoy both the benefits of spray foam and the benefits of termite protection on their homes.”

Amending the building codes was the solution, and local homebuilders have been supportive of PMPs’ request for change. “They want to be able to offer a termite guarantee on the homes they build,” Gorecki adds.

Pushing for change took time and effort, but support from state associations — including the Home Builders Association of Georgia — and Commissioner Black provided the backing needed to ensure PMPs could conduct proper termite inspections, Gorecki says.

“We felt Georgia was a good place to see what we could do about it,” he adds. “What was going on just wasn’t right, and consumers were paying the price.”


Georgia is the first state to take formal action regarding spray foam insulation, Gorecki says. It took nearly three years and included work with several entities and Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs.

Other interested state regulatory departments asked the Commission for information, and were provided the presentations and documents used to support Georgia’s initiative.

“There is a solution,” Gorecki concludes. “If your goal is to protect consumers, then we did the right thing.”

About the Author

Headshot: Diane Sofranec

Diane Sofranec is the senior editor for PMP magazine. She can be reached at dsofranec@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3793.

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