Termite Management

WHAT HOMEOWNERS NEED TO KNOW

If you are a homeowner, you need to understand what is required in relation to termite management for new buildings and extensions or alterations to existing buildings. You will also need to know what alternatives are available to meet these requirements. Your builder must inform you about the termite management system used for your home and the on-going maintenance requirements. Regular maintenance and monitoring is very important to ensure your termite management system remains effective. As a minimum, builders must comply with the termite management requirements set out in the Building Code of Australia (BCA). In simple terms, the BCA requires that the wall, roof and floor framing (structural elements) and door jambs, window frames and reveals, architraves and skirting of all new buildings be protected to reduce the risk of termite infestation. The BCA sets out the minimum requirements only and contractors and consumers may choose a higher level of termite management. To understand what the minimum requirement is under the BCA, and to decide on a preferred termite management system for your home, you should consider the following important questions before proceeding with building work:  

Is the building in an area where there is a risk of termite attack?

In WA virtually every area is susceptible to termite attack so the answer inevitably is ‘yes’, and you will need to go to the next question. Be aware however, some species  are more voracious (that means they are very eager eaters) and require a higher standard of treatment.  

Will there be any members such as wall, roof and floor framing, door jambs, window frames and reveals, architraves or skirting susceptible to attack?

If the answer is ‘no’ (e.g. if termite resistant materials have been used for the above members), then, subject to any other contractual requirements, there is no obligation under the BCA to provide further termite management, but remember the rest of the building will still be unprotected and at risk of damage by termites which are quite happy to devour cabinets, wall linings and sheathing of electrical wiring. If your home does have susceptible members then termite management is mandatory.  

Does the contract require termite management, irrespective of the requirements of the BCA?

You can ask for a level of termite management higher than that which the BCA requires. Talk to your builder or designer during the planning stage and ensure that your building contract provides for a higher level of termite management if that is what you require. It will then be mandatory for your builder to meet these requirements.