Termites are the silent investment killer. The fastest way for turning a great investment return into a financial disaster.
There are a few things I recommend to all our investors. Get a tax depreciation report, get lawn care built into the rent, get landlord insurance and have an annual termite inspection.
We come across termite issues all the time. Just the other week we had 3 property sales terminate because the Building and pest reports the buyers had done found issues. The word with the big capital T puts fear into buyers. Funnily the last 2 homes I have bought both had termites. But I know about them, know the slight damaged they had caused and knew what had to be done to ensure they didn’t return. Termites on the Sunshine Coast just can’t be avoided. Almost every property had termites, they might not be in the home, but it’s very likely they are in the gardens, somewhere.
Over the last 12 months we have had 3 of our clients impacted by termites. 2 of these I was doing a routine inspections. The first I notice a tiny mark in the dinning room window sill, on investigating further I could see it was termite damage. This ended up being so bad that the tenant had to be vacated, as the home was unsafe to live in. Took the builder weeks to pull down most of the dining and lounge to replace the damage and re build the home. Costing the owner over $10,000. The second again was on another routine inspection. A family member had returned to Sydney and no one had been in that room for sometime. Termites had eaten all the skirting boards and the frame around the wardrobe. A pest report was done to discover the true damage. The termites have now been treated and the owner will be coming to the Sunshine Coast in the coming weeks to deal with the damage.
While there are over 300 species of termites, I don’t think the type you have really matters, cause they are all wood munching monsters. But if you are really keen you can read more about the species types here
The potential damage termites can do seems to be something investors overlook.
What should landlords do about termites in Qld Australia
Firstly you need to protect your investment. If termites get in they will secretly eat your investment from the inside & no one will know because they are skilled at eating all the hidden wood that we can’t see.
The very basic way to protect your investment is to have an annual termite inspection. This will at the very minimum will ensure it’s being professionally checked annually. But keep in mind over 12 months termites can eat through your entire investment property. Sure here at Asset Agents we look for anything obvious when we do routine inspections but we’re not trained inspectors, are not capable or looking behind the walls where termites are. What you need to consider is something better, like a termite barrier.
At least with an annual inspection if termites are found they can be treated and the inspector will then return around 3 weeks later to ensure they have all been killed.
Bundilla Pest Control Offer an Annual Supreme Pest Control package which includes a Detailed Termite inspection and report, plus a deluxe pest control. They will spray for spiders, Silverrush, Ants, cockroaches inside and out. Plus they will give you a 12 month guarantee. At the time of writing a standard single level 4 bedroom home is around $500.
When done properly a termite chemical barrier can last up to 5 to 8 years. These are expensive to install. Once done every 5- 8 years or sooner they can be re applied with chemicals at a more affordable price. What surprised me is the number of investment properties I see where termite barriers are installed but they have not been kept up to date. An expired barrier is inviting termites in. The good news is if you have a barrier that is out of date, often it’s just a case of
Barriers are usually created by the inspectors drilling holes into the ground around the entire home. One of my investments in Buderim the deck was built on the ground which just invites termites. So we had the barrier drilled into the deck. We have the same issue with a front deck too. Over the last 15 years we have never had termites but we keep our termite treatments up to date and have annual inspections.
So where to from here for you ? First would be to work out of your investment property has a barrier. If so is it in date. If it’s out of date have it updated by having chemicals injected.
A typical 4 bedroom home built on a single level concrete slab can take anywhere between 1-2 days to install and will generally cost in the range of $1200-$4000 for a complete Chemical Soil Termite Management System Installation. This pricing has many factors involved but it mainly depends on how the barrier is/has to be installed.
There are 3 methods when installing a chemical soil termite barrier. It can be trenched and applied directly to the soil which is usually done in grass/garden areas, drilling which needs to be done to concreted/tiled areas or by reticulation (pipping) system which can be installed in the same areas as trenching. It can also be installed in drilling areas however that creates the extra cost of hiring a contractor to cut the concrete then refill once we have installed the reticulation.
It’s also standard in Australian to need 12 monthly inspections every year in order to maintain the warranty provided by the chemical supplier. 12 monthly inspections are also required to maintain our warranty on chemical barriers we have install.
Termite Barrier Renewal
To renew a termite barrier typically will be around the same cost as installing it for the first time, as the same amount of labour is generally needed. However, this price also depends on how a termite barrier has been installed. Installing a reticulation system around the perimeter of the home is generally a more expensive way at first however is more cost effective in 5 to 8 years time when the barrier needs to be renewed as the amount of labour is significantly less then when originally installed.
Termite baiting systems are generally around the same cost of a chemical soil barrier, sometimes less however they do have the extra cost of replacing the baits when termites have been found within the stations and the extra 6 monthly inspection of the stations which generally can be a cost of anywhere between $150-$300 depending on the amount of stations used at the home. The only time we recommend using a baiting system is if due to the construction of the home a chemical soil barrier cannot be installed to label specifications.
Fixing termite mistakes
It’s a shock how many “builders” construct things in a way that will let termites into homes. For example I see all the time wooden posts congregated straight into the ground. Or decks built straight onto the ground. Or gardens built up over the buildings weep holes. These and more are inviting termites into your investment property. Ask reputable pest inspection company and write you a report on what would need to be done to rectify issues like these.
Termites love moisture. If your property has a drainage issue or bathroom tiles that need to be re sealed this is asking for termites. Bathrooms over 10 years old usually need to be re sealed. If they are not then water will leak through the tiles and into the walls. We see this all the time when inspectors use their moisture metre test on the other side of showers and ensuites.
When we do our routine inspections we look for mould, we look for moisture or damp areas but again we are not qualified which is why at the very min you need to have an annual pest inspection by a professional.
If tenants have items lying against the house, or against the stumps, or under the house against walls and stumps this is inviting termites an easy way into your investment property. Again we look for these concerns during routine inspections but the best options is for a professional to check for these concerns annually.
Reputable Termite Companies
Interestingly a few months back I did a test. I called 5 pest companies for a quote. 3 never got back to me. One called me and the other just attended the property and did a termite inspection and report without being asked and sent me the bill. Ha. The one that called me was Bundilla Pest Control. They happen to be our preferred suppliers. I assume they called me simply because their service is good. So yes I would highly recommend them. Of course shop around , but do you really want to risk setting like this to save a few dollars ?
I have no idea where Bundilla Pest Control compare with others. But what I do know is they have very good service. They are small enough to care but big enough to know what they are doing. The last thing you want to to try and save a few dollars using someone else to find issues down the rack or they have gone out of business etc. Keep in mind investments like this are a tax deduction. Termite prevention is just like insurance. It’s an annual cost that you hope you will never need but will be glad when you have it.
Our current landlords who have annual inspections. Their chosen company contact us annually and we organise them access to do the inspection. So from a landlords point of view it’s set and forget. We can even pay the bill from the rental income for you.
So where to from here ?
Well if you already have annual inspections or a barrier you are all set. If you don’t I highly recommend you shoot us an email, and we will get a quote and if you approve an inspection done for you. It’s tax deductible and will give you peace of mind. If you are not one of our clients but still own an investment on the Sunshine Coast we can still get you in touch with Bundilla Pest, shoot us an email. We’ll be happy to help.
Are tenants responsible for pest control too ?
Yes they are. If they see any mud tracks they need to report them. They need to not keep items lent against the walls or posts. If they are supplier a home free of spiders, ants etc. They are responsible for having them treated. You can read more about that in detail in one of my past articles here.