I think sometimes it's not what you know about the chemical, but you have to understand how termites work and understanding different building techniques is very important whether it be a brick veneer home, whether it be a full brick or whether it be a Besa Block constructed building. Whether it be a raft slab, an in fill slab or whether it's on bearers and joists. And certainly we have done homes that are full brick. Full brick construction, but yet termites have made it upstairs into the roof line because there's a break in a roof tile or two, the water's running down the roofing timbers, finds its cavity on the external walls of the building, runs in that brick cavity, the termites find that moisture. Because the bricks are porous, they retain the moisture and away they go.
So if that moisture is continually running down there on a frequent basis there might be a leaking bathroom upstairs. A classic example, we had a job about six months ago at West Pennant Hills, three stories high. The termites were in the third floor. Okay, they'd found their way up the hole from the bottom in an enclosed veranda which was bricked in, timber formant left in place and we could see the termites there ever before we opened up a hole to get in there. But yet the termites were in the cavity sliding door up in the bathroom... third-storey high!
So, you know. They're pretty keen.
If you're going to build a house, a lot of people go "Well alright, I’m going to build a steel frame". Steel frame doesn't necessarily protect you from termites; it's all about what you do at the time of construction. There are certain things you can do to minimize your risk and if you're building in a raft slab which is a traditional concrete construction these days, you can put TermiMesh in, you can put in Renoguard or even better still- leave the edge beam exposed, which is your physical barrier.
For the termites to get in they’ve got to build their mud shelter tubes up the outside edge, scavenge the water out and get in to your brick work that way, into your bottom plate and away they go.
You know, I suppose if everyone had the choice you’d probably build full brick but sometimes housing, especially for project builders it's cost prohibitive. They are going to do things the most economical way and the quickest way and not necessarily what we, as pest controllers, think as the best way. Apart from buying property, the maintenance issue is a great influencing factor on what people do around the house.
Termites and the damage that they do and the problems they cause aren't one of those finances that are factored into owning a property. Certainly, you know, every termite job is different. You know people will look at how much is it going to cost and this is even over the phone, and you know it's a bit like the doctor trying to examine someone- you don’t know until they cut him open and that's the same with us. We get to a property, and we cut open the property in a sense that we do an invasive inspection to see where the real problems are.
People sometimes they assume because they’ve got a problem with this room that’s where the termites are getting through, well that’s far from it. You can have an entry point 3 or 4 meters away but they're travelling along the bottom plate and they've just appeared at that spot. So you need to be smart enough to work your way around that.
We had a job out at Dural in about '03. Brand new home, 2 years old, big property, on acreage...26 entry points! 180 lineal meters around the house and luckily the clients hadn't done any landscaping. All they did was backfill with sand and soil, no concrete paths, no paving, they sat at idle because they were working out what they were going to do with the landscaping because they're on an acreage and we lowered all their soil levels for them and it took us 9 days to do that job.
From WOAH to GO by the time we lowered all the soil levels, treated it and we found 26 entry points so we used a permanent marker on their brickwork and on their render. Those marks are still there today and they've never had a problem since. So it's not about the chemicals it's about how you do things whilst your applying that chemical. Again it gets back to understanding certain building techniques because every property is different. You need to structure this problem associated to this property and not have a blanket 1 fix all system because they don't work. What works on 1 property doesn't work on the next.
Certainly you know certain products we favour, you know we certainly favour the non solvent based chemicals these days. One- from our point of view, because we're dealing with them all day; secondly is the customers point of view because the last thing they want to be doing will be moving out for a day or 2 because they've got a solvent smell through the property; and number 3 they have a tendency to work a lot better as well. So, and you know obviously they're a little bit dearer to use but then you know at the end of the day it's a very small portion of the property itself.