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As part of our AEPMA Pestalk segment, AEPMA President Vasili Tsoutouras shares his thoughts on the current state of termite management within the pre-construction industry.

Articles in this magazine often discuss termites. For many years, termites have been the subject of dedicated research into their taxonomy, biology, behaviour, distribution patterns and their preferences for materials. Then there is the research into termite control, eradication and prevention. Plus the significant cost associated with product registration, Codemark certification and product distribution.

As such, our industry has been and continues to be diligent in understanding and treating termites in an effort to reduce the risks to property that these tenacious insects can cause. Supporting these efforts, AEPMA has been involved with the regulators to ensure such documents as the Australian Standards and our own Code of Practice deliver clear guidelines for the design of buildings as well as the requirements for the different termite management systems available.

Unfortunately there are those in the building and construction industry who see termite management as an inconvenient cost and apply pressure on our members to deliver low cost and, most typically, low margin termite management. These builders are looking for the pest manager’s sign-off to say that a compliant termite management system has been installed. Although the builder’s statutory liability is for six years in NSW and some seven years elsewhere, they do not see the damage caused by termites during this term as a claim that they would have to answer. Such damage would be referred to the responsible trade – the pest manager.

In a previous article on this topic, we noted that there is increasing evidence that our industry is being compromised by those accommodating pest control businesses who have succumbed to the pressure for a cheap termite treatment for new buildings. It is unfortunate that pest managers operating in this way are supplying these builders with poorly installed termite systems in a new home. Many of these installations are not compliant with the manufacturer’s specifications, are not warranted, are in variance to the product’s Codemark certification and APVMA registration, and ultimately leave the homeowner vulnerable to the risk of termite damage.

The most significant cost to practitioners in this business is the damage this behaviour can and has caused to the reputation of the pest management industry. As an industry, how can we protect our future? What can we do to create a new paradigm where rates are competitive but fair, where installed termite barriers are efficacious and compliant with the manufacturer’s requirements and product registration?

At AEPMA we try to champion the cause, but ultimately it comes down to the pest managers on the front line. We know that the vast majority of pest managers are the exemplary performers who serve to maintain the standard of the requisite workmanship for all operators in the pest industry to aspire to, rather than having their work ethic compromised by economic pressure from builders. But for the good of the industry, the only solution is for all of us to push back against the pressure to install inadequate termite systems. Stay strong!

Vasili Tsoutouras, President, AEPMA