Termites –The Stuff of Every Homeowner’s Nightmare!
Regardless of how plush and enviable an apartment is, all that turns into a horror story should you find an army of termites eating into your cupboards, your books, and your shelves! It’s scary to think about sharing the roof with thousands or even millions of these ‘white ants’ who are happily feasting on your living abode!
It truly wrecks a havoc on the residents of an apartment when a builder conveniently overlooks or undermines the importance of taking adequate anti-termite treatment measures at every step of the building’s construction.
If you are a new home buyer, having a checklist of ‘critical questions to ask’ before buying your dwelling unit is extremely important. Your checklist must go beyond just location or the blueprint of the rooms. It needs to address issues that secure long-term safety and avoidance of uninvited pains like being invaded by termites, having leakages, dealing with seepages, and witnessing a continually degrading or weakening structure!
In this blog, we are focusing on anti-termite treatment at a pre-construction stage.
Well! For a new home buyer, the panacea to all the woes of owning a termite-infested home is a pre-construction anti-termite treatment rigour undertaken by the builder. Closing the entrance gates on these mighty mites early on with a sound pre-construction rigour is better than taking reactionary measures later.
Termites- what are we dealing with here?
Termites feast on anything with a cellulose base, be it furniture made of wood or plywood, clothing, books & stationery, and scores of household items. With more than 2700 species of termites living on Earth, India is home to over 350 species of these wood-eating and building weakening termites.
For ease of understanding, termites can be categorized into 2 types:
- a) Subterranean, or b) Drywood. Subterranean termites are nestled in the soil, i.e. they live below earth, and cause the most severe damage in a very short time. The dry wood termites reside in the walls or wooden flooring of the home and are slow and steady eaters.
Eventually, both Subterranean and drywood termites are hazardous for the building as well as human health. They find their way into your apartment from under the ground by making mud tunnels. They could travel inside apartments through any tube-like gaps (conduits) or spaces like masonry work or brick walls.
Anti-termite treatment: deterrence at work
The objective of Anti-termite treatment is the long-lasting protection of your property and health.
- The treatment begins at a pre-construction stage and goes right up to the construction stage, where a ‘soil treatment’ is applied to the building
- The treatment creates an effective chemical barrier, and the building gets condoned off from Subterranean termite attack
- Pre-construction Anti termite treatment can be different for different types of plots and locations; It depends on the terrain, weather conditions, the soil composition, and the type of termite being dealt with
- Anti-termite treatment is applied up to the ‘plinth level’ substructure construction stages
- Soil is treated before any slab placement resulting in a chemical barrier between the slab and the masonry
- Chemical treatment comprises of i) Excavation site treated from all sides viz. bottom, sides; ii) holes made in the earth and filled with chemicals prior laying slab on grade; iii) outer perimeter of construction treated with chemical; iv) pipe beddings reinforced with chemicals to secure the piping
Technical preparedness: an important aspect
A well-integrated approach to anti-termite treatment is important to avoid all potential possibilities of termites making their way through the gaps in treatment. No ‘unprotected gaps’ can be left to chance resulting in an entry-point for termites. Work needs to be accomplished with the highest level of technical competency in accordance with Bureaus of Indian Standards.
A thorough ‘site-preparation’ rigor needs to be applied while undertaking anti-termite treatment. This includes the removal of all roots, stumps, vegetation, trees, etc. from the path of the treatment. Besides, this, a host of Soil-testing result based activities may be required at the construction site, which includes removal of all construction-related debris, concrete, water (in case of water-logging), moistening of soil (if the soil is sandy), and making the penetration of soils compatible with anti-termite treatment materials and so on.
In a nutshell, the actual groundwork needs to be in order. The actual site must be made compatible and prepared for anti-termite treatment to take effect.
Chemicals like Chloropyrifos, Heptachlor, Chlordane, Lindane, and others are used during the process.
A termite-proof barrier is created at a DPC level, where DPC (damp-proof course) acts as a barrier meant to prevent moisture from rising by way of capillary action causing ‘rising damp’. The DPC soaks the anti-termite chemicals to create a barrier in the plinth wall against the termites. This ensures that Subterranean termites are unable to penetrate through the voids in the walls, and are prevented from entering the superstructure.
Besides, the sides of the foundation trenches are treated after the foundation to create yet another anti-termite barrier to entry.
Hence, all the masonary foundations and basements are well treated to ensure that the earth in contact with these surfaces stand guard entry like an impregnable fortress for decades to come.
Critical entry points neglected to cause termites’ invasion
Three other entry points for termites that need a thorough treatment are:
- pre-slab treatment of ‘expansion joints’, particularly on the lower floors,
- plumbing outlets/inlets (fresh water points are most vulnerable),
- electric gaps/conduits
Anti-termite treatment stages- a summary
The treatment activities can be segregated into five stages as prescribed by the Bureau of Indian Standards:
Stage 1: Trenches of foundation (bottom + sides)
Stage 2: Foundation (backfill in contact)
Stage 3: Intersection of Wall & Floor (to secure vertical continuity of chemicals)
Stage 4: Surface of Plinth
Stage 5: External perimeter of the structure (to create an effective chemical barrier)
Lack of awareness among home buyers
Perhaps, more than technical reasons, it’s the all-pervasive lack of interest and knowledge amongst the new home buyers on the ‘things to check’. What meets the eye alone is not enough! One needs to literally dig under the ground, and question the builders about what all has gone ‘inside’ or ‘behind the scenes’ while bringing a flashy façade to life!
A property constructed by overlooking critical pre-construction measures results in multiple issues like termites, cracking, dampness, seepages, cracking of walls, and more, which you can ill-afford! Even the best materials cannot compensate for the right actions that need to be taken by the builders at the beginning stages. Unless questioned and watched, some builders may overlook or compromise on the quality of the building.
So, stay vigilant, and ask the right questions before you purchase your dream home!
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