Pile of logs

Damage to a barn conversion in Kent caused by woodworm

1 May 2019

Ashford is a market town in mid-Kent, on the southern edge of a big Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, filled with the chalk hills of the Kent Downs and many fine Jacob and Georgian country houses. Thanks to this location the town became the meeting point of five different railway lines, stimulating growth and employment in the 19th century. When the Channel Tunnel was finished in the mid-1990s, Ashford also got an international railway station, now on the high-speed line from London to the tunnel.

Timberwise were contacted by the owners of a timber-framed converted barn in Ashford to survey the timbers within the property. The barn is set in over an acre of stunning gardens and countryside and dates back to the 19th Century. The current owners were looking to sympathetically modernise and convert the barn into a family home. They were concerned they had a woodworm infestation due to small exit round exit holes in the timber and fine powdery dust around said exit holes.

Did you know?

The tapping of the adult Death-watch Beetle is traditionally meant to be bad luck, heralding that tragedy would soon strike the household. It could often be heard in the quiet of the night and was thought to be a countdown to death as rhythmic as the ticking of a watch.

What is woodworm? 

Contrary to belief woodworm isn’t a worm, instead, it’s a generic term given to insects that trigger woodworm damage such as beetles and weevils. The eggs hatch into larvae that burrow into the wood, remaining there for anything up to five years, potentially causing extensive harm.

What is a woodworm survey? 

A woodworm survey must be carried out by a qualified timber specialist in order to ensure that the correct beetle is identified and therefore the right treatment is carried out. Inspect the property to identify the size of the infestation and the type of woodworm beetle.

  • Check to see what stage of the lifecycle the wood boring insect is in – it may be that the damage is historic and requires no further treatment.
  • Identify the level of repair required and put together a specification for any woodworm treatments deemed necessary to be carried out on the infected areas of timber
  • Assess if there are any other of property care issues associated with infestation such as dry rot or damp

The Timberwise Surveyor held the Certificated Surveyor of Timber & Dampness in Buildings (CSTDB) qualification and upon inspecting the timbers, it became clear who the culprit was for the damage – Death Watch Beetle. The Death-watch Beetle is medium-sized, up to 8mm long and chocolate brown in colour with patches of yellowish hair. These beetles are often found in historic buildings with large quantities of oak, so it’s unsurprising in this case they decided to call the customer’s barn home.


The infestation had affected all of the structural timbers within the barn. In most cases, a woodworm infestation can be treated with an insecticidal spray applied to the timbers however in this case the damage was so severe parts of the timber were treated with resin-based repairs and some parts needed replacing altogether.

Although discovering a woodworm infestation was not in the plans for the client’s large scale renovation project, with the customer’s patience and Timberwise’s expertise the barn was eradicated from woodworm and transformed into a bespoke home.


It was a complicated project. However, Timberwise rose to the challenge and working jointly with the architects; the barn was successfully converted bringing the period structure into the era of smart home living. The family are settled in and ready to move onto their next project – the back garden!

With the Timberwise long term, 20-year timber guarantee covering the work the client has will complete peace of mind that the property is cared for long after the renovation work was complete.

Timber showing signs of Death Watch Beetle infestation


Do you suspect a Death Watch Beetle infestation?

If you believe you have a woodworm infestation, it is recommended that a specialist surveyor should be contacted to carry out a survey. The surveyor will be able to determine the type of beetle causing the infestation and whether the infestation is current or historic. To arrange a timber survey from Timberwise call 0800 288 8660 to speak to your local office or complete our on-line survey request form.

Originally published 23rd July 2013, updated 1st May 2019.