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Why an Australian Standard for a Building And Pest Inspection

licensed inspectors

Why an Australian standard for a building and pest inspection, in Queensland building and pest inspections are done in line with the Australian Standard 4349.1-2007, the purchase of a home especially a first-time Buyer is a serious decision and must be sustained with an understanding of the condition of the property. Impartial and unprejudiced advice is required to make possible knowledgeable decisions.

The standard implies that the inspection by a licensed and qualified builder by its nature will be a personal assessment of the circumstances of your new home or building. As we are not Certifiers, we are not here to objectively assess the structure. And it goes without saying that different inspectors or even possibly the same inspector may reach different scenarios as to the condition of your new home or building. The Australian standard 4349.1-2007 informs us that it is seeking a balance between consistency of outcomes, the limitations of time and cost yet still giving the flexibility required to report on different and sometimes many types of homes and buildings.

The inspection of the building or new home is not restricted to prepurchase or presale but may have other interested parties, for example, an investor may be looking at the report for valuation, a real estate agent may be looking at it from a risk assessment point of view before taking on the rental. You should remember that the Australian Standard 4349.1-2007 sets out the minimum requirements for inspections.

There is an expectation that any inspection carried out under the standard will be combined with specialist inspections reports of elements of the structure that are not part of the standard these will include Timber pest inspections-termites borers, fungal decay and moisture. An electrician would be required to inspect the wiring and ensure that residual current devices are present (safety switch)

Plumbers, roof tilers, structural engineers and air-conditioning specialists are other types of’s special inspections that may be required.

Common sense would dictate that the building inspections and other associated inspections be completed early in the buying process thus enabling the purchaser to understand the property’s condition and hence make a well-informed decision if to carry on with the purchase.

On occasions, the vendor (the seller) commissions the building inspection reports to streamline the sales process and rectify any defects.

There are significant limitations to the Standard; significantly you need to understand that any report prepared in line with Australian standard 4349.1-2007 is not a “certification of compliance”. It will not prevent problems occurring in the future and will not locate or identify building work that is not or does not comply with building codes or regulations.

Australian standard 4349.1-2007 requires that inspection agreement is entered into before the inspection and will define the purpose, the scope and how the client accepts and commissions the inspection. Notations of any change to the purpose or scope of the inspection are to be noted.

In Queensland, The Queensland Building and Construction Commission is the body that licensed completed building inspections. It is a requirement to have professional indemnity insurance in place. Please note it is not part of the inspection to report on easements zoning covenants et cetera. Your legal representative is the person to seek an explanation about title and ownership.

In general terms, the scope of the inspection is the identification of major defects and form a view about the condition generally of the building. Estimation of cost of rectification is not required when the inspection is done to this standard. Where the client requests and estimation cost this estimate is based on the inspectors own experience and standard industry costs. Remembering the dependability of the costs and guide only. Seeking additional quotations for specific work including the extent is another method of establishing the costs of rectification or even a quantity surveyor will give an estimate of the cost of repair.

All available areas of the structure should be inspected, and where access is restricted or not reasonable, these should be excluded from the inspection nor will they form part of the inspection. Access and the right of entry to the dwelling or building are normally arranged by the purchaser or the purchases agent. It is not uncommon for us to arrange with the agent on your behalf time of the inspection as this removes the unnecessary telephone tag that may occur in seeking suitable times.

It is fundamental that the client understands that there will be limitations to the inspections. Having said that it would not be unreasonable to request the vendor to make access available when the limitations of the inspection have been removed.

The minimum expected under the standard is a report on major defects, safety defects and minor defects are reported on generally. At Twinspectors we exceed the minimum standard and endeavour to report on minor defects that we consider may influence your decision to continue with the purchase. All safety issues will be reported on as a major defect. We will endeavour to include these defects in our report in such a way that any major defect or safety issue cannot easily be overlooked.

The litmus test in our reports is that we are comparing buildings of a similar type of construction with similar age of construction in acceptable condition with an adequate maintenance program during the life of the building. And it is irrelevant whether the building complies with the current Australian Standard regulations, codes or acts that are in force at the time of the inspection. Reminding you that we are not certifiers and we are not there to report on illegal building work.

The building is to be compared with a structure that was constructed by the building practice at the time of construction and has been maintained as there has been no noteworthy loss of strength and utility.

Our inspectors are fully licensed builders with current licenses, Twinspectors is licensed to do building and pest inspections with the Queensland Building and Construction Commission. We have our professional indemnity insurances in place as well is adequate WorkCover policy. Where possible Twinspectors is an equal opportunity employer.

I will continue with this series of articles trying to simplify what we do in an inspection and why, it is not a comprehensive document, and we are only talking in layman’s terms removing any jargon. If you have questions, please call Twinspectors, and we will endeavour to answer them. In the next article what we review the areas that to be inspected, and I will include limitations where possible.

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Balconies and Decks Safety Guidelines

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It has become very popular in Queensland because of our temperate climate to incorporate outdoor entertainment areas/outdoor living areas. These renovations in older homes generally will incorporate deck or veranda, or in the case of new homes, the designs include alfresco dining areas as well as decks and balconies.

There have been serious injuries and deaths in Queensland from deck collapse and failure. This article may assist with safety inspections of decks and other external structures that in the event of a collapse are of sufficient height to put family members and friends at risk.

Owners are obligated to ensure their decks and balconies are safe always. All balconies will fail at some stage either because of poor design for construction or simply badly maintained.

The impact emotionally, legally and financially can be enormous for homeowners.

What makes balconies and decks unsafe?

Badly designed and poorly maintained balconies and decks are a danger and will cause possible serious injury or death to loved ones, colleagues or friends.

Different things may affect the safety of a balcony or deck over its lifetime.

Termite and Borers

Attack by insects such as termites and borers will affect the strength and condition of timbers.

Wet Rot

Timber that is constantly moist, weather by constant or continuous contact with the ground or another timber member with moisture present.

The result of sea spray

The corrosive effects of being near the coastline can affect unprotected structures and building elements including reinforced steel and fixings such as bolts and fixing plates.

Loadings

Decks are not designed to hold large water features, spas, large heavy barbecue equipment and exercise equipment.

Is my structure safe and will I need to……

  • Check to see if your balcony and deck has been designed and erected correctly.
  • It is possible to get the building approvals and plans from your local council and maybe compare them to the actual structure. Inspection by an engineer (structural) or a suitably qualified builder.
  • Materials that can deteriorate should be inspected yearly to identify any potential problems. Bolts and screws can loosen and corrode over time.

If not protected, timber can be susceptible to insect attack and decay. However treated timbers do provide resistance for an extended period they still will require maintenance and regular inspection. Rot and decay is a particular danger and correctly applied stain, or paint finish will restrict moisture or water entry through the faces of timber, but gaps and joins and end grain that are exposed provide access for moisture to penetrate.

These are some of the risk factors and what to look out for:

  • Water pooling on the deck or balcony surface.
  • Balustrading that is not directly fixed to the main support structure-fixed to the balcony or deck surface.
  • Loose or inadequately fixed solid balustrades and balustrades fixings at wall junctions.
  • Exterior cladding that terminates against a balcony deck may contribute to decay or rot.
  • Support members and connections that are covered by cladding or lining boards that are fixed to the balcony or deck.
  • Excessive bearer lengths without support posts or columns.

Timber balconies and decks

  • 20 years or more would be a reasonable life expectation of a timber balcony or deck that is well maintained.
  • Look for changes in the structural members. Has the timber moved from its intended position either by warping or bending or cupping?
  • Moisture causes discolouration in timbers this moisture will lead to decayed timbers these should be probed using a sharp knife or screwdriver. The feel of decayed timbers is soft and spongy.
  • Handrails and balustrades need to be checked to ensure that the fittings aren’t corroded, loose or badly installed. Physically pushing and pulling balustrades and handrails to ensure they are secure.
  • If possible physically pushing the main supporting beams or joists to detect any movement is one means of properly ensuring the deck is fixed to the building.
  • If possible, check under the deck look at the base of timber posts and the connections to beams for rot. Again, check all fixings, brackets and bolts for signs of rust and that they are firmly attached. Ensure that water cannot pool at the base of any support structure or wall. Floor joists that are fixed between beams require careful visual inspection and possibly maintenance. Where this occurs look for steel plates or manufactured hanger brackets again check fixings that they have rusted and become loose.
  • While underneath probe timbers with a sharp object screwdriver or knife for deterioration especially at joins.
  • In older constructions, Oregon or untreated pine may have been used and are not suitable for construction of balconies and decks these timbers are very susceptible to termite attack and decay. If these timbers have been used a regular and thorough maintenance schedule must be employed or consider replacing the timbers with products that are more resistant or sustainable.
  • Timber support posts are attached using proprietary metal brackets (galvanised) or stirrups with adequate clearance from the concrete footing to protect against insect attack and rot/decay. Whether it’s timber (with steel stirrup) or steel posts they must be embedded in concrete and securely anchored to the foundation.

Concrete balconies

  • The expected life of a concrete balcony is between 40 and 50 years. The deterioration in concrete balconies is not as obvious as those in timber. Corrosion in the reinforcement (steel cancer) occurs when small cracks in the concrete surface allow moisture to penetrate, these cracks may look harmless.
  • Look for signs of movement or leaning this may indicate a problem.
  • Under the balcony look for rust stains or steel that is exposed.
  • Physically push and pull handrails and balustrades to ensure they have not become loose or corroded or simply unstable.
  • Where there is flaking concrete or cracking concrete, this may indicate a serious problem and needs to be examined by a structural engineer or licensed builder.

 


Disclaimer:

The material in this article provides general advice, guidance and information. About any particular concern, you must seek appropriate professional advice from an engineer or registered builder the writer of this article expressly disclaim liability, negligence or otherwise, for any omission or act as a result of reliance on this article or any consequence. All decks and balustrade must have regular, thorough inspections. Neglect to do so may result in death or injury and financial loss.

 

Diseases Carried by Rodents

Rodents

The extent of havoc that rats may cause extend far more than just gnawing on your clothes, wirings and snacking on your food in the pantry. They cause an even more alarming threat to your health. Read more

Signs of Extreme Termite Infestation

termite hill

Sometimes it is hard to tell when termites are present in your home. Oftentimes, people are not aware that their homes are infected until it is a little too late. Read more

Health Hazards from Rats

close up picture of a mouse

An unwanted animal that enters your home is not only bothersome but is hazardous to your and your family’s health and well being. Apart from all the havoc that they cause to our furnitures and food, what we should really be worried about are diseases. Because of this, many home owners call pest control companies to help them get rid of the nuisance. Read more

How to Eliminate Cockroaches

dead cockroach

Cockroaches can become major pests in the home. They breed rapidly and they are very resilient. These pests are a threat to human health as they carry various major illnesses including dysentery, typhoid, salmonella and gastro-enteritis. The risk of catching an illness is particularly high in homes with children, with the elderly, or people with existing medical conditions.

In addition, the presence of cockroaches in the home is disturbing. They produce a foul odour that contaminates food and every item with which they come into contact. Act fast to get rid of cockroaches to prevent infestation in your home. The following steps will help to eliminate cockroaches and prevent them from coming back.

Inspect your Home for Cockroaches

If you see one cockroach, it is certain that many more insects with spiny legs and long antennae are hiding in your home. You will rarely see a cockroach during the day. Therefore, look in your cupboards and pantries for cockroach droppings, which are small brown slime stains or pellets.

Look for Places of Entry

Do a little sleuthing to figure out from where in your home the cockroaches are entering. Inspect your home for cracks and holes that they can get through. It is almost impossible seal up your entire home because these pests frequently get into homes via drains or vents.

Get Rid of the Cockroaches

There are several ways to kill cockroaches. You can use an insecticide spray that is labelled for cockroaches. This can be sprayed along walls, cracks and vents throughout the house. There are also many professional grade pesticides available in the market for a more powerful effect against cockroaches. You can also place cockroach traps or cockroach bait in areas where cockroaches frequent. There are also do-it-yourself solutions that are simple and effective to use against cockroaches.

Prevent Cockroaches from Returning

After making a major effort to get rid of cockroaches, you do not want them to come back. Keep cockroaches away by keeping your house clean.

  • Always make sure the kitchen is spotless by cleaning crumbs and spills promptly. Clean your range tops because roaches thrive on grease.
  • Store food properly. Use food containers and do not leave food uncovered for a long time.
  • Empty your garbage container regularly and do not keep trash near your house.
  • Cockroaches are drawn to water, so be sure to repair dripping faucets or leaks.
  • Get rid of clutter and throw away old newspapers, plastic shopping bags and other objects where cockroaches can hide.

Call a Pest Control Expert

If all else fails, call licensed building and pest inspection experts to get rid of cockroaches in your home. These professionals have the experience of how to deal with cockroaches. They also know how to use chemicals properly, so your family is kept safe while the extermination process is ongoing.

Pest Detection Into the New Century

When it comes to pests in the home, bigger is not always scarier. Termites are one of the scariest of home pests – not just because of the damage that they can cause but also because they can work unseen to the naked eye for ages. In fact, when you first see termite damage, you may find that it is already progressed pretty far.

Because detecting termites with the naked eye is so difficult, a wide range of technology has been developed to give pest inspectors the upper hand. The technology uses a range of thermal imaging cameras, radar equipment and possibly even a borescope. It has also been found that specially trained dogs are also very effective at sniffing out termites. Of course, not everyone likes dogs and, in this event, technology gets the upper hand. All of these techniques can be employed to accurately and effectively locate the source of trouble early on making effective treatment simpler and easier.

The least invasive of these is probably the termite detection radar. There are few surfaces that this radar cannot penetrate and it thus gives accurate and definitive proof of infestations. Because the radar can penetrate carious surfaces at reasonable depths, there is no need to open up sections of the walls. The added advantage is that the termites continue undisturbed – they remain blissfully unaware of what is coming and thus do not have time to scurry and infest new areas of the house. This makes treatment a lot easier and more effective.

These devices emit radar signals that are specifically designed to identify termites. There are any number of building materials that go into the construction of a building, including concrete, timber and drywall, and the signal can penetrate all of these. This technology allows a pest inspector to identify the problem without having to find crawl spaces, etc. Termites remain undisturbed making locating and eradicating them a lot easier. This method also allows you to dispense with the “spray and pray” method of pest control.

Along with thermal imaging moisture detection, termite detection radars are likely to be in the arsenal of any professional building inspections team. With the termite problems in Australia being on the increase, it is quite reassuring to know that your pest control experts are well-equipped to safeguard your home. If you are buying a new home, this technology will allow you to invest your money with confidence, knowing that pest problems are not a part of your foreseeable future.

Buyer Beware

Although the housing market is definitely on the mend, it is still a buyer’s market. It has become necessary for home owners to take some extra steps when selling to ensure that they have an edge above other home owners also trying to sell. You have to remember that there are a lot of houses that entered the market because people simply have not been able to afford to pay for their home loans so you need to offer people a reason to choose your house over the others.

For the buyer, of course, this is great news – prices in the market are down and there is a lot of choice available. Usually the homes that were repossessed are available at a much better price but you do need to realise that there is a strong possibility that they have been uninhabited for quite some time. Houses that have been uninhabited for a while tend to prove to be a safe haven for a number of pests from rodents to termites. As a result, it is a good idea to have professional pest inspections conducted before you actually make an offer on the home or, alternatively, make the sale contingent on the results of the pest inspection.

A pest inspection is important even if the home you are buying was inhabited and really is the only way that you will get proper peace of mind in the long run. A qualified building and pest inspection Brisbane expert will be able to pick up signs of current infestations and also any evidence of past infestations. They will also be able to highlight areas which may prove problematic in future. Overall, you will be able to make a more informed decision when it comes to buying your new home.

Pest inspections are easy to conduct and pretty non-invasive. Most pest inspectors have specialised equipment such as UV lights to enable them to pick up pests that are not easily seen by the human eye. Some even use dogs to sniff out pests like termites so that these pests can be dealt with effectively, even when not seen. The pest inspector will also know, from experience, where to look for problems.

When you consider the possible cost of having to fix structural damage or the possible health hazards of an untreated pest infestation, you will realise that it is well worth the effort to have the pests dealt with properly from the start.

Drywood Termites Management

The West Indian drywood termites are especially abundant in Brisbane, Maryborough, Bundaberg, Townsville and Rockhampton where they are considered as serious pests. They are deemed as the world’s most destructive drywood termite.

Homeowners and construction companies are now being asked by Biosecurity Queensland for suggestions on how to manage the termite problem in the state. In fact, the State Government has paid for building treatments and any infestations found in timber products since the 1960s.

A treatment for an average 3-bedroom home costs about $42,000, and taxpayers pay about $750,000 a year for the annual program.

However, since the new Biosecurity Act 2014 was implemented in July, the Government has made a move to reassess how it  manages the pests.

The following are the options that are being considered:

  • Government organises treatment, with a phase-in of property owner contributions.

  • Property owners organise and pay for treatments.

  • Government organises treatment, with owner co-contribution of set costs.

  • Government continues to organise and pay for all surveillance and treatment.

A consultation process is being undertaken around how to manage the pest under the new act. This is due to the core principle contained in the Biosecurity Act 2014 around shared responsibility for biosecurity.

The main purpose of the the act is to determine where to find the West Indian drywood termite infestations and identify who pays the cost of treatment.

Perhaps the primary reason why it’s very hard to identify the presence of drywood termites is because these creatures live out their entire lives inside the timber, unlike the common subterranean termites, which are found in structures. By the time that they are detected, they have already made a significant amount of damage.

It is imperative that the government does some surveillance activities as it cannot be done by just private individuals. There should be a right balance between the resources used for the treatment and the resources used for the surveillance.

The surveillance and treatment has so far controlled the pest down to a much lesser number of sites in Queensland. However, these pests could still cause damage depending on when and where they were found.

Living and Breeding Places of Household Pests

Cockroaches, termites, ants, fleas, mosquitoes, rodents and bed bugs are just a few of many house pests that can create health problems and cause damages to your house and belongings.

So, how do we get rid of them? If you prefer a less-invasive, environment-friendly approach, then you can opt for some DIY pest control solutions using natural ingredients. On the other hand, there are also household chemicals and pesticides that you can use especially if your pest problem has gone way out of hand. However, you must be mindful of its damaging side effects to the environment.

There are a bunch of ways to de-bug a home but how can you be sure you are doing the job correctly? Perhaps, the best way to attack a problem is to cut it down right from its source, and to do so, you must know where these pests can be found.

Here are the living and breeding places of common household pests:

Flies

Flies are commonly found in rubbish, open septic tanks, food scraps, dirty benches and tables, open leach drains, lawn clippings and animal faeces.

Fleas

Fleas like sandy areas. In order to reproduce, they need blood, which they mostly get from animals. They are usually transported by humans as they are likely to jump into people’s clothing. They can also be brought into houses through beddings.

As these pests are usually found on dogs, cats and other furry animals, it is best to keep the pets outside the house if they are suspected to have fleas. This is to minimise the likelihood of fleas infesting the house.

Bed Bugs

Like fleas, bed bugs also need blood in order to develop. They are transported by humans through their luggages and beddings. These bugs usually hide in places where people sleep, keeping themselves hidden from view during the day. During the night, they will start feeding by biting a person in their bed. Their bites can be very itchy and can easily become infected when scratched.

Mosquitoes

These insects like cold and dark places, so they are mostly found in areas where there is rain water accumulation like car tyres and tins, water storage tanks, discarded refrigerators and in septic tanks. They can also be found around ponds and natural bodies of water.

Rats and Mice

Rodents love rubbish. Where there is litter or exposed food, it would not be surprising if you see rats and mice lurking around. They can also be found in pipes, insulation, under buildings, in ceilings and in trees and gardens.

Mites

Mites live and breed on furry animals and can also be found on human hair.

Managing a pest problem is never easy. It requires a lot of time and effort to meticulously device ways and means of detection and treatment, not to mention that different pests require different solutions.

The first thing you need to worry about is how to detect these pests. Sometimes, people are not aware that they are having a serious pest situation until the signs become obvious and the problem is already too severe to be fixed by DIY solutions alone. If you want to ensure a thorough and accurate inspection, enlist the help of a professional. The best way to enjoy peace of mind concerning the condition of your home is by having the professionals atTwinspectors look it over. Call us on 1300 304 145 or book online for an inspection today.