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Rodents. Have they moved into your home yet?

While winter often brings with it gloves and scarfs, it also brings something else. Rodents.

During the colder winter months, rodents such as rats and mice are on the move, often into a nice warm home. If homeowners aren’t careful, before you know it, they will be moving into yours and settling in.

The kitchen and bin areas of the home are high value targets for rats and mice, often providing them with warmth, food and water. While it might be great for them, this is not the case for you. Not only do they transmit diseases and can carry in other vermin such as fleas, ticks and lice; they can also be responsible for structural damage, and have even started fires in the home by chewing through electrical wires. These are problems that can go unchecked.

While having just one rodent doesn’t sound like a serious problem, it can soon become a much larger issue. A mouse’s gestation period is about three weeks long. At the end of these three weeks, they can have a litter of 3 to 14 strong. This can occur 5 to 10 times a year, and their breeding cycle is not limited to a certain season, with breeding occurring through the year.

The following steps are recommended to help prevent picking up an unwanted boarder:

  • Seal cracks and install weather strips at the bottom of exterior doors
  • Trim any branches that overhang the home
  • Plant any vegetation at minimum of 12 inches away from the house
  • Keep the interior of the house clean
  • Store all food, pet food and food scraps or garbage properly in sealed containers
  • Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink or pet food out freely overnight

A single mouse in the house can soon become a colony if left unchecked.

How we control ant infestations from the source

Most people think that ant infestations are one of the easier general pest problems to control.  Over the counter, DIY treatments are readily available for consumers but unfortunately they aren’t always effective in managing the problem.

Ants are social critters that live in colonies.  Spraying the ants that you see trailing through your home or garden might kill the visible ones but more often than not the colonies will stick around.  They might even sense the danger and split off into separate colonies making the problem harder for you to control.  You may even risk trapping the ants inside your house if you apply an over the counter barrier on the inside of your home without doing a proper investigation into the problem.

Fortunately, you can avoid these problems and control the ants easily by contacting a professional.  A professional inspector, will be able to pinpoint exactly where the colonies are and eradicate the problem from the root.

Our technicians use a special method which is undetectable by ants.  Rather than using a repellent that ants can sense and learn to stay away from, we use anti-repellent.  Anti-repellent cannot be detected by ants so it is slowly spread to the entire colony, thus eradicating the problem from the source!

If you need help getting the ants out of your pants, give contact APM Solutions via Facebook or at 07 3828 2020 for 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

5 things people forget to consider when buying a house

Buying a home can be one of the most exciting, stressful, overwhelming and important moments of someone’s life.  There is often so much involved, people get caught up in the process and lose focus of the important things.  If you’re interested in the buying a home, whether now or in the future, to live in or for investment, make sure you give careful consideration to the following things:

Hidden Costs

When looking for a home, people tend to focus on the price of the house and the amount they can borrow.  Many buyers forget to factor in the additional costs that come up when purchasing a property.  These might include things like:

  • stamp duty
  • agent fees
  • lawyer fees
  • lenders mortgage insurance
  • building and pest inspections

The list could go on!

It is also equally as important to consider the costs that come with owning the home you’re wanting to purchase.  Mortgage repayments are only one aspect.  Things like:

  • Council Rates
  • Utility bills
  • Body corporate fees
  • Insurance
  • Maintenance
  • Renovations etc.

can add up quickly so make sure you take everything into consideration when planning your finances.

What is the neighbourhood like? 

While most people think this is something to do after you move, talking to the neighbours of a property you want to purchase is a great way to get a feel of the area.  You can find out things like:

  •  If there are neighbourhood disputes or everyone gets along
  • Whether it’s relatively noisy or quiet street
  • If there has been any recent crime or if it’s a problem free zone etc.

Location, Location, Location!

Depending on your needs, requirements for location will vary.  Prioritise what’s important to you before you begin looking and have those factors firm in your mind.   How important is its proximity to things like:

  • Shopping centres
  • Grocery stores
  • Cafes
  • Schools
  • Public transport

Is it okay to drive to those areas or do you need to be able to walk?  Is there sufficient parking around the property?   These small factors that are often overlooked can create a lot of difficulty after you move in if not thoroughly considered beforehand.

Cosmetic vs Crucial

Don’t be dissuaded by things like paint colours, décor and simple fittings.  The colour of the rooms can be changed easily but the floor plan can cost tens of thousands in renovation costs.  If the shower fittings aren’t to your liking, that’s okay, but the water pressure available might be harder to change.  Conversely, a home that might look amazing at first glance could still have major problems below the surface.  That is why it is important to get professional inspectors to survey the property before you purchase.  Always make sure to keep an open and mind and a sharp eye when looking for a home.

Timeframes

Once you purchase a home, there is usually a cooling off period of a specified time (usually 5 days).  Within that time there will also be an allocated amount of time to get things done like pre-purchase building and pest inspections, environmental checks, susceptibility to flooding etc.  This is usually around 5-7 days.  Make sure you are aware of these time frames and organise yourself enough time to get the inspection done receive the report and think about your decision or have enough time to do any further investigations if necessary.

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How to Control Common Household Pests

Common household pests can quickly spread if the conditions are right.

While termites are often regarded as the most destructive; other common household pests can be quite irritating for us humans to live with. They can also lead to much bigger problems if left uncontrolled. The following is a list of 4 common household pests and how you can manage them:

  1. Cockroaches

Cockroaches are one of the most common household pests for us living here in Australia. They can usually be found living in cracks, cupboards or underneath some appliances. In regards to diet, they eat almost anything available from scraps to garbage, decaying matter or sewerage – hence; the best way to help keep cockroaches away is to ensure a clean and tidy home. Take special care to maintain bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms where dampness can build up easily and become a comfortable home for cockroaches.

  1. Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are one of the more vicious pests as they feed off human blood. Often, people only realise they have bed bugs when they notice the small bites on their bodies. Bed bug bites appear as large or small, itchy red bumps on the skin.  While they aren’t known to transmit diseases to humans, they can still cause distress to those affected. The best way to deter bed bugs from settling in your beds & furniture is to maintain a high standard of hygiene throughout. If you do find bed bugs, try to keep your home as sterile as possible by steaming carpets; washing all bedding in hot water etc. until you can have a professional assess and effectively control the problem.

  1. Ants

Ants, just like all other pests are in search of food and water. Once they find a good food source, they won’t hesitate to keep coming back to it. Just like humans, they eat similar foods which is why we commonly find their trails through our kitchens.  The best way to deter ants from coming into your home is to make sure all food is properly sealed and crumbs/spills are cleaned right away. Doing a general pest spray once a year is also highly recommended. This will help prevent the problem before it begins as it can be difficult to control afterwards. If you do decide to use a DIY pest spray; make sure to follow the trail and target the full colony not just the ants you see.

  1. Silverfish

These slinky critters feed on materials high in sugar, starch and protein and flourish in a dark and cool environment. They can often be found hiding in cupboards eating away at our clothing, blankets and books or we can find them in sinks & bathtubs while they seek moisture. The best way to avoid a silverfish infestation is to use mothballs inside closets and store seasonal clothing and blankets in plastic bags.

Leading into the Australian summer, a combination of the heat and summer storms create the perfect environment for these and other household pests. If you are experiencing trouble with any of these common pests or want to ensure a pest free summer; contact APM Solutions at 07 3828 2020 for a competitive quote on an inspection or general pest control treatment to protect your home today!

Thermal Imaging: Everything you need to know

At APM, every building & pest inspection we do includes a thermal imaging scan of the property.  This is an essential part of the process as it is a useful tool for identifying whether there are any active termites hiding between walls.  It can also help identify if there is any issues moisture build up, ventilation or dampness.

 About Thermal Imaging

Thermal imaging is a useful piece of technology that displays images in regards to heat levels of an area rather than visible light.  Physical inspections can only asses a structure by using a tapping tool to check if there are any soft spots present.   In comparison, thermal imaging allows us to non-invasively asses areas that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye until severe damage was already done.

How it works

Thermal cameras work by visually showing us the differences in heat patterns of an area.   Inanimate objects like timber or dry wall show up as cool because they emit no heat.  Termites however, are living organisms that nest in groups and require dark, damp areas to build their mounds.  Due to the nature of their behaviour, they emit high levels of heat in comparison to the inanimate timber structures they like to reside in.  The cameras allow us to spot identify if there are any active termite issues within walls, ceilings or under floors that might otherwise look pristine.

Limitations

Although thermal cameras are an extremely useful tool during the building and pest inspection, they do have limitations which we always outline to our clients within our reports.  Because the cameras work based on reading heat levels, they cannot identify if there is structural damage present from a previous termite inspection.

 

Contact APM Solutions on (07) 3828 2020 if you think you have hidden termites on your property.

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Don’t Let Your Home Slip Through the Cracks

For most families, buying a house is one of the biggest financial investments and often takes many years to realise this dream. While it goes without saying that it is essential to choose the right property, often thorough building inspections are overlooked. In fact, issues like cracking in a home have the potential to cause disastrous outcomes for houses and their owners. It can be almost equally alarming to the seller as it is to a potential buyer. Not only can cracking be expensive to fix, but it can also be a big safety concern for anyone wishing to live in the residence.

Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom.
 The reality is that most houses, even new 
ones, will have some cracks or show signs of cracking. The benefit of early identification and management of these cracks is the increase in safety and value of the property! Below is a brief guide to identify the severity of visible cracking when looking at a property.

Types of Cracks

Hairline Cracks

Hairline cracks are generally less that 0.1mm wide and deemed negligible.

Fine Cracks

These are typically up to 1mm thick and generally have a very slight impact. While they can be noticeable, they usually do not require repair or can be easily treated for aesthetic purposes using normal decoration.

Distinct Cracks

Distinct cracks are between 2 and 5mm thick and may cause doors and windows to stick. Although these have a slight impact, they can be filled easily.

Wide Cracks

If the crack is between 5 and 15mm thick, it is classified as a wide crack and have a moderate level of impact. These can be fixed through brickwork and possibly replacing some parts of the wall. With wide cracks, doors and windows may experience sticking, service pipes may fracture and weather tightness is often impaired.

Extensive Cracks

Extensive cracks are between 15 and 25mm wide and have can have a severe level of impact. Fixing these cracks can require major repair work involving breaking out and/or replacing sections of walls. Door and window frames may appear distorted and floors may noticeably slope. Service pipes will be disrupted, walls may noticeably lean or bulge and there will be some loss of bearing in beams.

Structural Damage

Anything greater than 25mm in width generally means there is structural damage to the building. These may cause the building to be dangerously instable meaning repair work for structural damage can require partial or complete rebuilding. Signs of structural damage include broken windows with distortion, beams experiencing loss of bearing and walls leaning badly.

Using a reputed, proven and thorough building inspection service like APM Solutions will ensure your home conforms to the Building Standards & Tolerances of Queensland. This is beneficial for the following reasons:

  1. Early identification of potential structural issues
  2. Avoiding investing in an unsafe property or one that will require exhausting and expensive repairs
  3. Negotiate for a price that budgets for necessary repairs
  4. Foresee issues that may impact further in the future

Contact APM Solutions directly on (07) 3828 2020 or via email at admin@apmsolutions.com.au for a competitive quote!

5 questions to ask yourself before buying

When buying, there are many things you may need to think about.

When you’re buying a home, you (or your building inspector) will most likely identify something that you wish wasn’t there; damp wood, termites, leakage, or a frame with damaged structure. The simple fact is no home has a clean bill of health, especially if you’re looking to buy an 80-year-old Queensland home.

All properties have their own issues and a building and pest inspection will be able to measure the severity of them. A building and pest report will specifically outline any ongoing maintenance needed and a checklist of what to tackle in priority, should you go ahead and purchase the property.

Ideally, what you as a buyer wants from a building and pest report is for it to identify whether the property you wish to buy is better than/on par/worse than other properties in the area. For example, if you are buying an 80-year-old Queenslander, it will more than likely show signs of termite, borer and fungal decay damage and water ingress from aging roofs and bathrooms – where as a newly built home won’t.

Your building inspector will be able to identify whether there is any structural damage to be concerned about. They can also tell whether past damage has been rectified in an appropriate way; and how well the property has been maintained by its previous owners. Good building inspectors will meetnyou at the property so they can talk you through the inspection as they go. They will be able to identify the condition of the house on the spot; tell you how it stacks up for a property of its age and give you an honest opinion on the condition of the property.

Make sure you ensure the report you receive from your building and pest inspector is put into context. Don’t be scared of what is in the report but also don’t ignore it and go on to buy another property without engaging in a building and pest inspection. These reports are here to help you understand the condition of the property you are buying.

Still concerned? Ask yourself these 5 questions to help make your buying decision:

1.      How does this property compare to others of a similar age and style, in a similar location?
2.      What issues need to be dealt with before moving into the property?
3.      What is the likely cost of each issue identified in the building and pest report?
4.      Do you see any ongoing, costly maintenance issues?
5.      Would you let your son/daughter buy this house?

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.