Engaging a professional building and pest inspection company is an important step in the process of purchasing a property.
As well as exposing problems which may lead to costly repair bills (which fall to you as the new owner), an inspection can determine whether or not the building is structurally sound, and therefore safe, for you and your family.
The results of an inspection can even give you bargaining power when it comes to negotiating a sale price.
The Home Inspection Hub partners with Crunch Pest Control to carry out pest inspections for our clients.
In the fourth instalment of our ‘Property Experts’ series, we spoke to Crunch owner Teemu Carr, to find out more.
What are the signs that a property may have a pest problem?
The signs that a house may have a timber pest problem are usually well hidden – until a vacuum cleaner goes through some skirting, a door comes away from the frame, or a foot goes through some timber flooring!
Prior to this you may notice warping in wooden flooring, hollow sounding timber, a window or door that has become difficult to open and close, and mudding appearing around skirting, window frames and door frames. In the garden you may move some old decaying wood and notice some ‘white ants’ underneath.
It is important not to panic if any of these things are discovered. Do your best not to disturb them, and call a licenced, accredited, and insured professional.
What are the most common kinds of pests and pest infestations you come across?
The most common timber pest that we encounter are termites in gardens – their scientific name is Porotermes Spp . These termites require decaying timber to start a colony. This termite is commonly found in forests, where they attack the wood, degrading it for various purposes.
Only rarely are they found in houses, where the attack is initiated by areas of dampness and decayed wood, from which they can move to sound wood.
Identification is very important so as not to get this pest confused with a more destructive termite species that could cause serious damage to your home relatively quickly. If Porotermes Spp termites are found during an inspection, the general advice given is to discard the decaying timber from the area of infestation. Chemical treatments are rarely necessary for this termite.
What does a pest inspection involve and how long does it take?
Crunch Pest Control carry out a pest inspection in accordance with Australian Standard AS 4349.3-2010 Part 3 Timber Pest Inspections. This standard sets out the acceptable requirement for visual inspection and the reporting of timber pests. Timber pests that damage timber specifically include subterranean and dampwood termites, borers of seasoned timber and wood decay fungi.
During an inspection we assess the following:
- evidence of timber pests
- severity of the damage
- susceptibility of the building to infestation
- remedial and protective measures required and;
- any further investigations required.
We will familiarise ourselves with the overall locality and its effects on the report and inspect those parts of the property which allow reasonable access, using the latest in detection technology including Termatrac T3i (Movement, Thermal Imaging & Moisture).
The inspection involves an assessment of the interior of the building (excluding furniture and stored items), the exterior of the building, roof space, subfloor space and the site (including trees, stumps and timbers embedded in the soil) within 30 metres of the premises and within the boundary.
What do we look for?
- Evidence of the presence of timber pests, identifying the common name and genus where relevant, and the species of the timber pests
- Location of activity or damage and general description of the severity of damage
- Evidence of inactive timber pests
- Evidence of treatment for timber pests
- Conditions conducive to timber pests such as wood to soil contact, excessive moisture, debris containing cellulose, cracks in concrete slabs and poor ventilation
- Damage caused by timber pests, and
- Locations of subterranean nests found within the property boundaries up to 30 metres.
As you can see, an inspection is very comprehensive and will generally take anywhere from 1 hour upwards, depending on the size of the property to be inspected.
What can homeowners do to prevent pest damage in their homes?
As general advice we suggest the following:
- ensure that timber is not stored under or close to your home
- remove old tree stumps
- make sure the subfloor space is well ventilated and the hot water service overflow pipe is directed to a drain or at least two metres away from the house
- the air conditioning condensate pipe should also be directed to a drain or at least two metres away from the house
- check that the guttering is not leaking and mulched areas are not in contact with the house.
Termites are attracted to areas of high moisture, decaying timber and poor ventilation, so by addressing these issues you will greatly reduce the risk of termite infestation to the house and discourage them from your property.
What questions should consumers ask when choosing a pest inspector?
Unfortunately, timber pest inspections are an unregulated industry in Victoria and there are a lot of inspectors out there who are unlicenced. They have done a quick online course and have had no experience in inspections.
Therefore, it is extremely important that you hire an inspector who is licenced. You can check this by going to the Department of Health & Human Services website and checking the inspector’s name on their database.
You should also feel comfortable asking if the inspector is insured and accredited. Accreditation is issued by the inspector’s insurance company only after the most stringent conditions are met.
To understand how the report will be presented, you can request a sample report.
Prior to the inspection, you should be asked to read and accept a Timber Pest Inspection Agreement which will cover everything included in the inspection. The inspection agreement is a requirement of Australian Standards.
Call The Home Inspection Hub today on 1300 071 283 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we can assist you with a building and pest inspection when Stage 4 restrictions are lifted.