What is a Timber Pest Inspection?
Most lending authorities and wise consumers require a timber pest report
of the structural soundness of the intended new home.
Report, with the exception of mortar damage to structural brickwork
(mortar bee attack), should be solely concerned with investigation
within the property of critical joinery and all structural timbers.
Report should include an identifiable summary on whether the property
is sound and/or free of destructive timber pest attack, and provide a
detailed listing of all the areas inspected, such as:
- material of construction;
- condition of material;
- timber pest activity, if any;
Where there has been damage, the Report should identify the location and
The inspection process
Access is essential
for a timber pest inspection because the focus of the inspection is on
structural timbers. Where the structure is obscured accurate detection
of any timber pest activity is impossible. Needless to say, properties
with predominantly timber structures require frequent monitoring. Some
vendors may not permit cutting of access traps and may even hamper or
obscure access. In these cases, the purchaser should be warned of the
worst possible scenarios. In other areas, physical access may not be
possible. Examples include the interiors of flat roofs and sub-floor
spaces where there is not enough crawling space. Skilled inspectors can
still make use of "other symptoms" and tell-tale signs that may hint at a
major pest problem.
What to do
About one property in
twelve will have some major timber pest damage or infestation. Many of
the problems can be remedied with one of these options:
- Replacement of timbers with the correct, durable, ones.
- Reducing the preconditions for attack.
- Chemical treatment.
Chemical treatment is only one of the weapons available in the arsenal.
Some progressive pest companies are now recognising that changing the
micro-ecology within the property is the preferred option. This is often
more effective than indiscriminate use of some toxic pesticides, some
of which are now banned overseas. During construction, pre-treatment for
termite prevention may also be advisable. Wherever there has been
treatment, a durable, easily readable, notice should be fixed to all
entries to the sub-floor area.
What to look for
following list identifies the likely findings in many properties:
- Assume that every subfloor has had chemical treatment. Therefore,
do not allow children and pets into the subfloor area or around the
perimeter of external walls.
- Furniture beetles should be expected in any old pine floor. In
extreme cases, the entire floor may have to be replaced, but infestation
may affect less than 20 per cent of the floor, with little actual
effect on use of property. Furniture beetle is extremely difficult to
- Wet rot has often damaged timber in contact with:
- damp subfloor walls;
- wet areas, such as around baths and showers;
- The use of unsuitable choice of timbers for external structures
and joinery which leads to accelerated deterioration of joints and ends
- Subfloor areas are a likely dumping ground for all forms of
debris, especially formwork and timbers from previous building
- Ventilation to the subfloor is often inadequate or obstructed.
Cross-ventilation is nullified by lack of penetration in internal
- Roof, surface or subsoil or defective sewer drainage often
discharges water into the subfloor area.
- Where timbers are concealed, expect some future pest problem in
about 5 per cent of cases.
How much do timber pest inspections cost?
The cost of pest
inspections varies, please contact Tyrrells (phone 1300 131270) for an
estimate. The time required to complete an inspection should range
between 40 and 80 minutes, depending on the size of property and the
ease of its access. Thorough property inspections usually take between
1.5 and 4 hours. Where a timber pest inspection is involved, this
additional time on site enables an extremely detailed appraisal of any
potential pest problem.
Recommendations and conclusions
councils and the construction industry do not enforce the use of
appropriate durable timbers for structural purposes. For instance,
oregon and untreated radiata pine should never be used externally,
unless well protected. There are no licensing requirements for pest
inspectors, so their technical training should be determined. Timber
Pest Inspectors should have both pest and building qualifications, and
should promote fact, not fear, about whatever they discover.