Beware the march of the termites


Homeowners, it seems, have been inviting termites in to eat up their properties, providing expensive meals that cost thousands of dollars without even realising it according to Archicentre, the building design and advisory service of the Australian Institute of Architects.

Archicentre director Guy Williams says termites can work away silently, with the damage sometimes only being revealed when the head of the vacuum cleaner hitting the skirting board causes it to crumble to dust.

Archicentre termite inspectors and architects have also reported incidents of houses with dangerous structural damage caused by termites.

Williams says typically warm, wet weather around Australia will see swarms of young termite “alates” – taking flight to search for new locations in which to establish colonies in trees, stumps, fallen logs, and fences, with many attracted to houses.

Some homeowners are making their homes attractive to termites by:

  • Stagnant sub-floor spaces – remedy this by improving sub-floor ventilation so air can move freely through the space.
  • Storing timber off-cuts beneath the house – clean them out!
  • Firewood stacked up against the side of the building – simply relocate it.
  • Dampness under or around a home – install an effective surface drainage system.
  • A “bridged” damp-proof course, usually caused by landscaping or paving being placed too high – lower it.

“Regular inspections are also a must, at least once every year,” Williams says.

“Whilst it can be difficult to prevent a termite attack, the damage bill can be minimised if their presence is detected early.

“With the average treatment and repair cost estimated to be in the order of $10,000, it’s vital to limit the damage that termites can cause.”

Williams adds that if you find termites (or insects you think might be termites), leave them alone and get expert advice as soon as possible.

Disturbing termites will result in them beating a hasty retreat to establish a new colony elsewhere on the property, thereby increasing the likely treatment and repair cost.

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