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New Termite Data to Assist Victorian Councils

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New Termite Data to Assist Victorian Councils

August 2006

Research conducted for the Building Commission has indicated that there is no evidence to support that the whole of Victoria should become a designated termite zone.

The research was commissioned to clarify data on the level of termite infestation in Victoria, following the release of a CSIRO study of termite infestation in metropolitan Melbourne.

In releasing the independent research report today, the Building Commissioner, Tony Arnel, said that the research has shown that there is some termite activity in all undesignated and partially designated municipalities in metropolitan Melbourne but the levels are relatively low. The level of activity ranged from less than one per cent (in the City of Darebin) to five per cent (in the City of Maribyrnong) of all properties in undesignated or partially designated municipalities.

In regional Victoria, the available data showed little or no termite activity in many undesignated or partially designated municipalities. The western region of the state, which includes Ballarat, Southern Grampians and West Wimmera, was not covered by the CSIRO report. However, the research commissioned by the Building Commission indicated that the level of termite activity in this region was particularly low, and reinforced that there was not enough evidence to support that the whole of Victoria should become a designated termite zone.

“Under Victoria’s building regulations, designation of an area as termite prone is up to councils. Currently, out of the 79 municipalities in Victoria, 20 are undesignated and seven are partially designated termite zones,” Mr Arnel said.

Designating a termite area is a significant decision for councils as it imposes additional costs on the building process.

Speaking of the research that had been presented to him, David Gay of the Australian Environmental Pest Managers Association (AEPMA) said that the research provided further information for undesignated and partially designated councils in Victoria.

“The independent research will be helpful for those councils to determine if their current designation is appropriate for their area. We are hopeful that this research will act as the starting point to collect further information on the level of termite activity in Victorian municipalities,” said Mr Gay.

Mr Arnel said all councils will be provided with the findings of the research, which collated data from the pest management industry, the Office of Housing and electricity retailer Powercor.

Under Regulation 803 of Victoria’s Building Regulations 2006, councils can designate areas in their municipality in which buildings are likely to be subject to termite infestation. Building work in areas designated as termite infested are required to comply with the provisions of the Building Code of Australia (BCA).

Almost 70 per cent of all Victorian municipalities are designated termite zones.

The Building Code of Australia (BCA) termite provisions, including the Australian Standard AS 3660.1, apply in designated termite-prone areas across Victoria. Victoria’s Building Regulations 2006 stipulate that all new houses and extensions built in termite prone areas must be protected against termites by either physical or chemical barriers.

Registered building practitioners have a responsibility to their clients and the industry to ensure that the appropriate termite management devices are in place when constructing or renovating dwellings.

Building surveyors and inspectors are aware of the importance of termite management requirements and will check that builders have installed an appropriate and approved termite risk management system.

To meet the requirements of the BCA in relation to termite risk management, registered building practitioners need to consider the following:

  • Determine the level of termite risk – the level of termite activity varies across Victoria. Therefore, builders should contact the relevant council for the building site to determine if the site is in a designated termite area.
  • Which termite management system best suits the project – physical or chemical.
    • Physical – termite resistant materials include masonry, concrete, termite resistant timber, steel and fibre reinforced cement.
    • Chemical – chemical soil barriers deter termites from gaining access to a building once applied to the soil beneath the building and around the building perimeter. They need to be registered by the National Registration Authority for Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals. Chemical resistant materials many need to be reapplied every five to seven years in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

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