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The Truth About Termites

Monday, March 21, 2016

Termites are a concern in the Australian building industry, but separating popular beliefs from hard facts can sometimes be diffi cult. Jerry Tyrrell offers his thoughts on the best ways to reduce risk.

Some fears help us avoid injury or death. For instance, we know to take cover in lightning storms. We shouldn’t touch spiders and snakes. It is stupid to stand on loose soil at cliff edges. And we instinctively know jumping out of a tree 4m off the ground is really dangerous.

Sound science and finding out the real facts is also very important. Despite all our fear there has only been one death from spiders in Australia since 1983. Sharks are really scary too, but there is only slightly more than one person killed by sharks every year. There are a lot more people dying from bee stings and swallowing ballpoint pen caps.

The Truth ABout Termites

Since the mid-1990s the pest control industry has had access to accurate science on how to limit termite risk in their buildings. Trouble is they did not ‘fess up’ to the people who need to know – architects, contractors and their clients.

I don’t intend to dwell on what hasn’t happened. The real deal is telling consumers how to save money and limit the risk of ever-facing financial loss from termites.

Leading the industry

One of Australia’s largest home builders no longer spends $1,200 per home on chemical reticulation systems which used to condemn their client to costly ongoing fi ve year charges. And worse, it condemns the local water table to periodic toxic top ups.

It was not easy for Eden Brae Homes. They decided to use Hyne T2 framing timbers. Then they had to push their roof tile supplier to used treated battens. And finally, their stair supplier gave in and sourced Class 1 hardwood for stringers and risers. Council offi cers agreed and supported this overdue change. Yippee! Hooray for their customers!

The formula is…

Oh yes... I forgot to tell you. I had to get my builder’s licence again because I have to give advice in dierent states. So I can truthfully say ‘when I build’:

  • 1. I’d be really careful about removing old stumps and any timber in the soil under the building footprint.
  • 2. I’d use H2 or T2 treated timber or steel frames.
  • 3. Concrete fl oors are a good termite barrier and also a good thermal mass.
  • 4. I’d leave the slab edge visible where possible because this is a real good way to catch unexpected termite entry.
  • 5. I’d never worry if termites enter the building because they can never do expensive damage.
  • 6. I’d install baits if I was at all anxious and wanted early warning of any infestation. So… no chemicals, less cost, healthier, less future cost, less worry.

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