Smoke Alarm – New Legislation in Queensland

Are you aware of the new smoke alarm legislation requirements?

As of January 1st 2017, new Queensland smoke alarm legislation became effective for all homes.

This legislation has come into play as a result of the recent surge in deaths from house fires. Due to this, changes have been made. Download our quick guide to the understanding the new legislation below.

Smoke Alarm Legislation

 

If you need help with smoke alarm servicing, give APM Solutions a call at 07 3828 2020 today or book online.

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South East Queensland is a HIGH RISK Termite Area

Is your home protected from termites?

The map from the CSIRO shows that residents of South East Queensland have a HIGH RISK of termite infestations.

 

map-termites-in-australia

Make sure your home is protected before it’s too late.  Contact APM Solutions for help with inspections and termite barriers.

 

 

Top 5 Places Termites are Found

While termites can be found in any home, some factors make them more appealing for habitation.

Termites can be found in any home at any time.  While this might sound daunting, just like all other creatures; they follow a pattern of behaviour based around getting their basic needs of food, shelter and moisture met.  This knowledge, combined with our years of experience in the industry; has allowed us to compile a list of the top 5 places they are found around the house so you can keep an eye out between regular inspections:

  1. Warm & Moist Areas

Termites love to nest in warm and moist areas so they tend to pop up near bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms or anywhere else there is moisture build up.  Their nests are usually found in hard to spot places behind large appliances like fridges or washing machines.

  1. In the garden

Homes that use mulch are at high risk of attracting termites as mulch provides the perfect food source.  Gardens and plants that border your house and/or cover weep holes are commonly act as bridges for termites to enter your home.

  1. Inside Walls

Once inside, termites love to hide inside wall cavities.  This is where they can often do the most damage while going completely unnoticed for weeks or even months.  They nest between walls and slowly eat the timber leaving behind only the paint.  Thermal imaging in a great tool our inspections use to help identify live termites in-between walls non-invasively.

  1. Subfloors

Subfloors can act like termite incubators and the damage created can result in severe loss of structural integrity.  It is most common in slightly older homes that don’t have enough ventilation.  The lack of ventilation allows moisture to build up therefore attracting the termites.

If you suspect you there are termites hiding around your home, DON’T WAIT!  Call 07 3828 2020 to book an inspection today or click here to request a free quote!

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A Year in Review: 2016

 

2016 has been a great year for APM Solutions.  We’ve inspected and treated more houses than ever before and can’t wait to hit the ground running in 2017!  As this year comes to an end, here is a quick overview of the most common things our inspectors and technicians have seen throughout the year:

Termites

Live Termites

Although we get to enjoy a beautiful sub-tropical climate here in Queensland, the hot and humid weather also is also loved by termites.  During the warmer months, we frequently find active termite nests in unsuspecting homes.  If detected early on, termites can be managed effectively and affordably, however, if left too late the damage caused can be very expensive to repair and cause homeowners a lot of strife.  Our senior inspector has over 30 years experienced in the building industry and always gives clients an honest opinion on termite prevention techniques, management and treatment options so you aren’t left to stress unnecessarily.

Damaged Shields

Most homes old or new have some termite protection installed. Many homes have protection in the form of a physical barrier – usually a shield that protects the foundations of a home from termites.  We commonly find that during renovations, builders disturb or damage these barriers which can leave a home vulnerable to termite attacks without the homeowner realising.  It is important that these issues are found and fixed immediately to protect homes from potential infestations.

Direct ground contact

When any structural wooden components of the garden like pergolas or fences come into direct contact with the ground, there is an increased risk of attracting termites. Having metal fixtures that attach them to the ground can help reduce the risk of termites finding them.  Alternatively, ensuring that the bottom of a fence is a few millimetres off the ground can also help keep termites and pests at bay.

Removal of Smoke Alarms

In regards to smoke alarms, one of the most dangerous issues we find during inspections is when residents remove the smoke alarms. By removing them, you are tripling your risk of death in a house fire.  Staying informed about changes in legislation and having regular inspections can help ensure smoke alarm compliance and safety within the property.  For more detailed information on Queensland on smoke alarm legislation, click here.

Gas Tanks

We often find that outdoor gas tanks are not properly secured and tethered down. This is an especially hazardous problem as strong storms common throughout a Queensland summer can displace or damage the tanks which can lead to gas leaks, fires or explosions.

It is also illegal and dangerous to connect a barbeque gas tank to a home’s main gas supply.  These are among the issues we have come across during a routine inspection of a property.  The best way to make sure your property is safe is to act responsibly within the home and if you are unsure, get an inspection done by a professional.  Thankfully in this situation, due to APM’s inspection, the problem was found and resolved safely.

Insufficient Drainage

Another problem that becomes a big issue during the stormy summer months is homes without proper sub-floor drainage. These properties become more susceptible to flooding and termites.  When the drainage system has not been planned or installed correctly, water can accumulate under a house, remain stagnant or create moisture.  This environment then becomes the perfect breeding ground for termites.  If you think this is happening in your residence, it is important to inspect and manage the problem before any severe damage occurs.

Non-Compliant Balconies and Stair Treads

Many homes have outdoor balconies, however, as building standards have changed through the years, not all homeowners have updated everything to comply with current standards. We commonly find older homes with balcony railings and stair treads that are a safety hazard.  Current standards state that “when a deck or balcony is one metre or higher above the ground, balustrades need to be at least one metre high.”  You can find more detailed information on government standards via the following links:

http://www.hpw.qld.gov.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/DeckBalconyAndWindowSafetyGuideline.pdf

http://www.hpw.qld.gov.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/CheckYourDeckAndBalconyFactSheet.pdf

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Low-Maintenance Plants for a Subtropical Garden

  1.  Bougainvillea

This gorgeous and vibrantly coloured plant is great for both ground cover or as a climber.  They are a great option as they are beautiful and hardy, meaning they don’t require much maintenance.  However, to get the best flowers make sure to place your bougainvillea in a warm, sunny spot and only prune lightly at the end of the flowering season.

  1. Agapanthus

These blue or white long stemmed lilies can be commonly found around South East Queensland.  They are a great option for hedging – whether it be a pool, fence or driveway, they will be sure to make a statement.  Keep in mind that agapanthus need full blown sun to thrive, so if you use them in a shady area you may run the risk of them not flowering.  Make sure to water them regularly for the best results.

  1. Bird of Paradise

This exotic looking flower resembling a tropical bird is a great addition to any subtropical garden.  They will flower best when grown in rich soil, in direct sunlight and moisture.  While it needs a lot of water, the key to keeping a healthy bird of paradise is to have sufficient drainage for it.  This will ensure it is not left to sit in soggy soil which will eventually cause it to die.

  1. Frangipani Tree

This delightful & aromatic tropical tree is a staple in many gardens around Australia.  Not only are the flowers beautiful, but they are also deliciously fragrant so position your tree in a spot where you’ll be able to enjoy the visual and aromatic benefits.  Frangipanis usually grow between 6-9m tall and 5m wide providing great shade in the summer months.  They are hearty and used to a desert like terrain so never saturate the soil when watering.  Keep them healthy by watering them in summer but allow them to dry out in the winter.

  1. Ornamental Gingers

If you’re looking for something to provide a lush look in your garden, then ornamental ginger is the perfect option.  Coming in a variety of different shapes, sizes and colours you’re sure to find a fit no matter what style garden you have.  Unlike many other sub-tropical plants, ornamental gingers love both shade and sunlight.

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Questions to ask at an open home that can save you money!

An open home is the perfect opportunity to gather valuable information about a property you’re looking to purchase.  By asking the right questions, you’ll be able to determine exactly what you think the property is worth and place your offers accordingly to ensure you are getting your money’s worth.

Here are the 3 best questions you can ask the listing agent in order to get the most useful information and potentially save yourself thousands:

  1. How long has the property been on the market?

This is a very important question because it can let you whether you need to act fast or it can indicate whether you have more bargaining power.  If a home is recently listed and there is a lot of interest, you might want to act faster so you don’t miss out.  On the other hand, if a property has been on the market for a long time, you need to find out why.  Most commonly this is because of price, but there might be other underlying issues as well. For example, there could be major issues with the property that aren’t apparent to the naked eye like:

  • Is it located in a flood zone?
  • Is there structural damage?
  • Is it heritage listed making possible renovations difficult?

These issues can be expensive for the buyer to undertake so finding out before you make an offer can help you negotiate a fair price if you still want to purchase.

  1. Why are the owners selling?

The answer to this question can help in many different ways.  If the agent seems reluctant to say why, it may mean that the sellers want to leave because they feel the area is dangerous, inconvenient or perhaps there have been recent council changes in zoning that will change the neighbourhood etc.

Alternatively, if they are selling in due to an unforeseen circumstance and, you may be able to get a great price in return for a fast sale.

  1. Has there been a recent building and pest inspection done on the property?

If there is a building and pest inspection report provided, make sure to look at it carefully.  Issues such as structural damage or termites can cost thousands to fix so it’s crucial you know what you are getting into before purchasing.  The knowledge a good report can provide can give you great insight into what the property is worth.

If there is no report provided, make sure to get an inspection done before purchasing – especially if the house is going to auction.  Houses that are sold at auction are unconditional.  This means they are not subject to a cooling off period or building and pest clause so it’s important to go in prepared with the information.  The last thing you’d want is to purchase a home at auction for a premium price, only to find out later that there is $50,000 worth of termite damage to fix!

 

If you need an independent pre-purchase building and pest inspection done, contact APM Solutions directly on (07) 3828 2020 or via email at admin@apmsolutions.com.au for a FREE quote today.  Mention this post and receive 10% off your first inspection!

How to Avoid Termite Trouble

 

Termites or “white ants” are small insects that can cause quite a bit of grief for home owners. In Australia, there are over 300 species of termites but the Coptotermes is most dangerous in terms of home infestations.

What makes termites dangerous?

Often called the “silent destroyers”, you might be wondering what is it that make these tiny creatures so dangerous to our homes as opposed to other common household pests? The answer to this lies within their eating habits. Termites feed off cellulose, an organic compound found in plants and common human building materials like wood. They prefer eating wood to obtain their nutrients because they can breakdown fibres in wood that other organisms cannot. Thus, providing them with a food source largely overlooked by most species.

People fear them because most don’t realise they have a termite problem until major damage has already been done. Termites love to live in humid and warm places with plenty of wood to eat making most Queensland homes the perfect place for termites to set up camp. As the termites eat away at your home, they can cause serious physical damage that can compromise the integrity of your house and cost thousands in repair work.

How can I prevent termites?

The saying “prevention is better than a cure” couldn’t be more true when it comes to termites. To make sure you never have to feel the fear of a termite infestation, here is a list of things to keep in mind that can help prevent a termite infestation:

Physical Barrier

This is a physical layer of protection between the soil on the ground and your home. Generally, these are made out of a stainless steel mesh so termites have difficulty gaining access to the house. This in conjunction with a concrete slab under the house can help protect your home physically. However, because physical barriers won’t kill any termites that might be living in the soil they are not 100% effective.

Chemical Barrier

This is a chemical treatment put into the soil surrounding a home. While deadly to termites, the chemicals used are completely safe for humans, pets, native animals etc. The chemical barrier is slow acting and spread from one termite to another until the colony is fully eradicated. It is important to keep in mind that there are different chemicals that can be used for this type of barrier and it’s important to speak with a professional to find out what is best for your home.

Wood Waste/ Storage

Never bury or leave wood waste in your yard as it will attract termites. Also, try not to store things like timber or firewood close to your house.

Placement of Mulch

Mulch is like a buffet dinner for termites however is used in most home gardens. Instead of completely getting rid of mulch, be mindful of where you put it. Try not to use it anywhere that is directly adjacent to your home.

Control Leaks

Termites love humid, moist conditions so make sure to fix any leaks around your home and get rid of any stagnant water.

Heavy Plant Growth

Remove any dense plant growth near your house and move it to further away in the yard. The thick vegetation holds large amounts of moisture which will attract termites.

If you think your might have termites or want to prevent them, contact APM Solutions directly on (07) 3828 2020 for a competitive quote on an inspection or treatment.

Termites. What attracts them to your home?

Is your home and surrounds the perfect environment for termites to move on in?

Queensland is home to summer storms, humid weather and wooden properties which are three perfect environments for termites to thrive. The condition and location of your property are two of the biggest factors which determine if they will thrive in your home. While you may not be able to escape Queensland’s iconic weather, you can ensure your property is maintained well enough to keep termites at bay.

Garden Beds

Having wood, plants or garden beds up against your property will make it easy for termites to get in from the ground. Termites like to feed and even nest in dark, moist areas and as Queensland’s summer is humid enough, try not to create another perfect environment for them to thrive.

Keep your gardens with a six-inch buffer from the walls or foundations of your property and avoid wetting the house when watering the gardens. This will keep the walls and foundations dry as possible and termites absent in the backyard of your property.

Walls and Floorboards

Once termites have set foothold in your property, they will head straight for the wooden walls and floorboards. Inside the walls and amongst the beams of your property is a popular spot, especially those which are adjoining to the kitchen, laundry, and bathroom (damp areas). Ensure all pipes, guttering, downpipes, taps and air conditioning units are in good repair and not leaking water.

Cellulose

Termites get their nutrition from cellulose which is the substance of wood and grass. Cellulose is one of the most common and durable substances on earth; hence it being hard to avoid and making termites a common factor in Queensland homes.

If you’re building a new home, use pressure treated timber or naturally resistant woods like redwood. Or you can avoid using wood altogether. If you’re living in an already established property; APM solutions can provide chemical treatments which create a barrier against termite infestations.

Do you have termites?

Warning signs to look for, include:

  • Floor boards that sound hollow when tapped, or holes in wood
  • Cracked or bubbling paint on the windows, skirting boards or architraves
  • Damp walls, in and around areas which have poor drainage during summer storms
  • Mud tunnels, on the exterior of the house
  • Termite droppings, which look like saw dust on the floor

If you have noticed any of the above warning signs in your Queensland property, contact APM Solutions today. If termites are present in addition to other pests such as cockroaches, mice or fungi; our pest inspector will go through your most suited solution to prevent any further damage including the installation of a termite barrier.

Buying: Is your new home hazard free?

Buying your dream home often comes with an overwhelming feeling of excitement and while you focus on your natural lit hallway, an entertainment balcony or rainfall shower head, you can often turn a blind eye to the common hazards lurking within the property.

Although building inspections are not a safety audit, experienced inspectors can identify what needs to be done to make your dream home comfortable and safe.

Absent Smoke Alarms

By law, smoke alarms must be installed on or near the ceiling in a hallway or an area close to bedrooms. If you have just purchased a multi-storey home, a smoke alarm will need to be installed on each level. While you’re busy walking in and out of every bedroom, you may forget to look up and check out the ceiling. This is what your building inspector will do for you, ensuring it complies with the Australian Standard.

High Risk Structures

Your entertainment balcony is now large enough to host all your family and friends for a house-warming BBQ, so having your building inspector identify if it has been well maintained, free of termite damage, fungal decay and rot is necessary. Although it might look strong and appealing, you may need to get some structural work done so the balcony can safely hold a crowd of people.

Hot Water Tempering Devices

If you are the first buyer of your dream home since 2013, your hot water system will unlikely meet the current standards. Don’t fret, your building inspector will be able to identify whether your hot water system is delivering water which is heated to minimum of 60 degrees Celsius to prevent the growth of bacteria, and then distributed to taps of all sanitary fixtures (baths, shower, basin) at a maximum of 50 degrees Celsius to avoid scalding-related injuries. If not, your building inspector will be able to point you in the right direction of a licensed plumber so you can be under your rainfall shower head in no time at all.

Time and time again, we see dream homes look perfect but are later revealed to have defects – often fixable but it can be costly. Don’t be caught out, get a FREE Quote for your building inspection with APM Solutions today.

What makes a good building inspection report?

Whether you are buying your dream home or an investment property, a building inspection report will help determine the health and value of the house and ultimately assist you in your buying decision.

As an independent information tool, a building inspection report should include enough information for you to be aware of the property’s condition and know any complications that are present or could eventually occur. If the house has termite damage or structural decay, you are better of knowing before you buy as it may determine your overall buying decision, or allow you to address the damage before it gets too bad to repair.

A good building inspection report will clearly set out the areas within the property which were inspected, inaccessible or obstructed and therefore not inspected. Some building reports will include a visual inspection but this alone can be limiting and make it hard to identify any structural or hidden damage of the property.

Remember, the format and amount of details in the building inspection report will be dependent on the type of property which is being inspected; its size, age and condition. To give you an idea of what to expect, a building inspection report from APM Solutions is formatted into six sections;

  • Service Details
  • Inspection Summary
  • Building and Inspection Report
  • Building Maintenance Responsibilities
  • Property Reporting Terms and Definitions
  • Overall Report

A good building inspection report should be clear, concise, easy to read and always in compliance with the Australian Standard AS 4349.1. Building inspections aren’t just for home buyers. Thinking of selling or renovating? Get a FREE Building Inspection quote with APM Solutions today.