The Building Code of Australia has some fairly specific rules relating to how Australian houses need to be protected from termites – and depending on how you’re building, it may make sense to treat the soil with a termiticide to create a chemical termite barrier before your slab subfloor is put down.
The details of what’s required for protection against termites are outlined in the Australian Standard AS 3660.1 (Termite management - New building work).
Do I need a chemical termite barrier?
The rules say that if your primary building elements (i.e. those that hold your house up) are susceptible to termite attack, you will need some kind of termite barrier – this applies everywhere except for Tasmania. In Queensland and the Northern Territory, stronger regulations and requirements apply to prevent hidden termite attack.
The choices when you’re building are either to use a chemical barrier, physical termite barriers or a combination of both. Chemical treatments (termiticides) are normally only applied to a site where slab-on-ground type subfloors are being used. The slab itself normally counts as a physical barrier too.
How are chemical termite barriers applied?
Chemical termite treatments are applied to the site before you build by a professional, and then periodically thereafter, ideally through a reticulation system that’s installed under the slab and around the perimeter of the slab.
Termites won’t eat through a concrete slab, but they will climb over it to attack your house and will find their way through penetrations in your slab if they’re allowed to.
Are chemical termite treatments safe?
It used to be that powerful termite treatments lasted for decades, however due to health concerns these days most of them have a limited lifespan, and will need to be reapplied as often as once a year (depending on the treatment).
Termite treatments need to be applied by trained professionals, but modern day treatments pose much less of a health risk than they did in the past. Any termite barrier treatment can be used on your home, provided that it’s registered with the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) for that purpose.
If you’re not sure what sorts of termite barriers are most appropriate for your home, discuss your options with your builder.
- anywhere near the bush or forested areas (i.e. where there’s plenty of food)
- anwhere where the ground is constantly damp
- in the north of Australia
- up to the boundary of your property (as this may mean you’re not able to properly inspect)