BCI have been conducting Building and Pest Inspections in Perth and it’s surrounding suburbs for over 26 years. It is prudent to check for termites and to ensure the home you are buying is structurally sound. Luckily most inspections do not find extensive damage but when we do, it is a timely reminder of the importance of spending less than $600 to know what you are buying.
The property I am going to show you is one that we inspected this week. The buyer called me and said that he only wanted a timber and pest inspection because his previous building inspection reports weren’t worth the paper they were written on. He also said that the sellers had mentioned previous termite activity but that it had been repaired.
I explained our business and the level of detail that our reports include and the experience that our inspectors have. He called back on Monday and asked us to do the building and pest inspection.
Luckily for him, he received two reports completed by two professional inspectors. The findings were alarming and he is extremely grateful that he decided to go ahead with both inspections.
In this occasion, the sellers were aware that there was termite damage and had a treatment performed and repairs carried out. At the time of our inspection however, there was still extensive damage but in the far corner of the roof space and underneath cellulose fibrous insulation that made it hard to see. The extent of the damage is inconclusive at this stage as further investigation needs to be made to accurately know where the termites have entered from and how much they have in fact eaten.
The joists to the ceiling were eaten through. Our inspector put his finger straight through one of the batons and was worried about the safety of the property.
The scariest thing about termites is that they can’t be seen. This was a brick house that looked perfect from the outside.
There was nothing holding the ceiling to the roof in one of the bedrooms.
The findings were significant, previously undiscovered damage to ceiling joists over the rear right bedroom.
The concern is that termites have migrated up the walls from the previously discovered damage in the laundry and toilet and that, although tapping walls and floors did not indicate further damage in the studwork, there is no view inside the walls to verify this. The view of ceiling timbers and top wall plates in the remainder of the roof is severely limited by the ‘blow-in’ insulation.
It is not possible to have a 100% guarantee that there is no further damage within the walls, however the following procedure was recommended to give the best chance of having some confidence that there is no further infestation and that there is no other damage or that, at least, it is not structurally significant.
1. Contract a timber pest inspection company with access to a thermal imager or ‘Termi-Trak’. All internal timber floors and ceilings
should be scanned for live termites before any work is done as if live termites are disturbed they leave the area and therefore are not
visible to the scanners.
2. If no live termites are found within the house then repairs can be made to the bedroom ceiling by cleaning off the insulation and
inspecting wall plates and joists for further damage. This is important as the discovery of damage to a wall plate may give an
indication where the termites accessed the roof from the lower floor.
3. The damage to ceiling joists and wall plates above the bedroom can then be repaired..
4. Because of the ‘blow-in’ insulation, searching for further damage to ceiling joists and wall plates throughout the roof is not possible
unless this insulation is removed. This can be sucked out and later replaced by an insulation contractor. This should enable a thorough
examination of ceiling joists and top wall plates.
5. Again, tapping walls and skirtings throughout the house did not give any indication of damage within the walls, however, this is not a
definitive test. The use of a borascope in selected areas will give a view of stud work to check for damage.
From this information it is clear that had our lucky client not engaged the services of a registered builder or in this case, an engineer, and a licensed timber and pest inspector, he may never have found out this information before it was too late. It is not conclusive until further tests are done but it is definitely worth knowing before taking ownership of the property.