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01 Feb 2013

The South African Pest Control Association (SAPCA) has voiced its concern over the potential decrease of South African property values due to inadequate pre-construction soil treatment before new buildings are erected.

Soil treatment refers to the application of pesticide to the soil during the pre-construction of a building. When this is neglected, infestation by subterranean termites often requires expensive drill-and-inject treatment after the building has been finished.

Soil treatment refers to the application of pesticide to the soil during the pre-construction of a building. When this is neglected, infestation by subterranean termites often requires expensive drill-and-inject treatment after the building has been finished. By that time, damage may already have been caused to the building and its contents.    

Although municipalities in high risk areas, especially along the coast, have bylaws requiring pre-construction soil treatment, incorrect application is not always noticed by building inspectors. Not all building inspectors are aware of the bylaws and even if they are, they don’t always take soil samples to verify that the correct treatment has been carried out.

SAPCA says application should adhere to the manufacturer’s label specifications in terms of concentration and what insect the pesticide is intended for.

The owner, architect and builder are co-responsible for seeing that this kind of treatment is carried out and properly scrutinised by a building inspector before the foundations are laid, says Carol McDonald, vice-president of SAPCA’s Gauteng region.

She says this responsibility is determined by the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act, 1977 (ACT 103 of 1977).

The National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act, 1977 (ACT103 of 1977), clearly states that buildings shall be, where so required by the local authority or in areas of high termite infestations, protected from subterranean termite, therefore the owner, architect and builder are co-responsible for seeing that the correct treatment is applied, says McDonald.

SAPCA CEO Lynette Cokayne also warns that some builders view treatment as non-essential, while unscrupulous pest control companies may take shortcuts or use over-diluted pesticides. This will have disastrous results once the building has been completed and termites have moved into the timber.

She says they can’t always be detected straight away, but as structural damage becomes more severe, the owner will have to cope with sagging floors, cracks in the walls and other damage. “This will obviously have a negative effect on the valuation when the owner wants to sell.” 

For this reason, SAPCA encourages buyers of buildings and homes, as well as developers, to ensure that they are aware of the proper requirements for pre-construction soil treatment and that they demand the correct process is carried out by fully qualified people.

“Be careful of pest control companies who charge too little for this treatment as well. We’ve found cases where fly-by-night companies dilute the termitecides in order to undercut and quote less just to win the tender and get the job.” 

Neglecting proper soil treatment probably means the builder may also tend to be negligent about other safety features.   

SAPCA advises the public to ensure that they have a reputable pest control company managing the termite prevention process and other pest control needs.

Visit SAPCA’s website www.sapca.org.za for a list of SAPCA members who all adhere to a strict code of conduct and best industry practices. 

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