is it termite damage or rot

Termites vs Rot – Would you know the difference?

is it termite damage or rotTermites are renowned for being very secretive and deceptive, but rest assured if you have them in your property our inspectors will locate them.  We have state of the art equipment and years of industry experience that ensures if they have taken up residency in your house, we will find them.

We had a call recently from a client who was alarmed because they were certain that they had termites in their house. He simply wanted us to refer them to a specialist who could safely remove the termites for him and ascertain the cost of restoration.

Upon further consultation and discussions over the phone, it was agreed that a building and pest inspection would be carried out by one of our experienced inspectors.  Upon review of the area during the site visit, it was found that the self-diagnosis of termite infestation by the client was incorrect, and wet rot was found to be the cause of the damage to door frames and other areas of the property.

As the treatment of termites vs fungal decay is very different, a correct diagnosis is imperative before arrangements for rectification can be made.

To follow is a letter from the client after the inspection :

Dear Melbourne House Check,

Just a quick note of appreciation for recommending I carry out a full building & pest inspection.  Your inspector was able to determine that the damage in our home was in fact wet rot decay and not termites as I had previously suspected. 

This expert advice has saved us lots of time and potentially thousands of dollars. You will be my first call if I have any other property concerns in the future.

All the best,


 Melbourne House Check conduct inspections Melbourne wide.  For any enquiries or to make a booking, please call us on 1300 729 352, or contact us here online 

Related termite articles

Is your house at risk of termite infestation?

Termite infestation in new home under 2 years old

Self diagnosing termite issues

Inspection reveals termites may live here

One of these two houses has termites

I have termites in a tree stump outside, can they come into my house?

Related articles on rot

Diagnosing wet and dry timber rot

pre purchase inspections

Why is it important to have a pre purchase inspection before buying?

pre purchase inspectionsThe process of purchasing a property can be an incredibly stressful and nerve-wracking time for most people.  As a result, obtaining a Pre-Purchase House Inspection can seem to be one of the more tedious tasks and is often considered to be a waste of time and money.  However there are a number of reasons why it is critical that an inspection is not forgone for the sake of saving a few hundred dollars or believing that there is no time.

Checking for Structural Issues

Identifying possible structural problems is essential to ensure there are no safety concerns or major cost implications.  Structural issues can cause collapse causing serious injury or death, and identifying the cost to repair any structural issues is important in order to budget correctly for the potential purchase price.  If a structural issue is identified after settlement of a property, you may find that you will be responsible for the cost of repairs in order to conform with the relevant codes and Australian Standards.  Obtaining a building inspection will help you avoid costly rectification works down the track.

Identifying Safety Hazards

When buying a house its always nice to feel comfortable that it is safe and ready for occupation.  A pre-purchase inspection will identify any areas that might be a risk to you or your family.  Some of the things we look for when completing an inspection include:

  • Asbestos and other hazardous products and the condition of any identified material.
  • Electrical wiring that appears aged or suspect in any way, and the presence of safety switches on the electrical circuits.
  • Presence of smoke detectors, and fire protection covers on downlights.
  • Loose or inadequate balustrades, handrails or decking.

There is nothing more important than ensuring your loved ones are safe, and a building inspection can assist you with this.

Other potentially costly defects

In addition to the structural elements of the property, our inspectors will also check for a range of other items while on site to ensure there are no hidden surprises after you move into a dwelling.  Some of these include :

  • Leaks to water, stormwater and sewer pipes. Any evidence of leaking pipes and damage to surrounding components is well documented while checking in cupboards, under the house, in the roof space and around the house.
  • Any evidence of roof leaks are documented and possible solutions recommended.
  • Condition of the roof coverings, flashings, gutters, eave linings and fascias is well documented and if any repair work is required.
  • External items are also included such as the condition of any pergolas, decks, outbuildings, sheds etc. And whether these structures are adequate and comply with regulations and standards.

These are just some of the many things we look for when conducting an inspection.  Our inspectors can also offer advice on approximate costs of repairs through our personal one on one discussion with you after the inspection has been concluded.

Opting to not proceed with a Pre-purchase building inspection to save a few hundred dollars can often be the biggest financial mistake of your life, and it is critical that you engage a professional to cast their eye over the property to ensure this does not occur.  If you would like to know more about what we do please visit our website, or you can fill out an enquiry form or make a booking here and one of our inspectors will make contact directly to discuss any questions you might have. Or alternatively please call on 1300 729 352.

Other pre purchase inspection articles:

Pre purchase inspections – 4 things you need to know

The positives of a pre purchase inspection

5 Frequently asked pre purchase inspection questions

Pre purchase house inspections – Don’t risk not getting one

termite damage on home exterior

Is your house at risk of termite infestation?

If you have been wondering whether your home is at risk of termite infestation, it is good to know that you are taking the first steps in being prepared ahead of time.  Knowing the risks and your property’s potential for termite invasion is a smart move, and identifying and rectifying issues that attract termites is critical in preventing any attack.

Geographical location of your house will firstly tell you whether you are at risk.  Termites in Australia are abundant and any coastal region (with the exception of Tasmania) can be considered a hot spot.  Here in Melbourne, (although people may claim to be “not in a termite area”) there is no such thing as a ‘safe’ zone.  All suburbs of Melbourne are prone to termite infestation.

termite damage on home exterior

Have you checked if your neighbours have had termites?  If a nearby infestation goes untreated for long enough, the risk to your property increases significantly.  If this is the case, a termite inspection should be conducted without delay.

If you have any rotting or moist wood around your property, this is a big attraction for termites.  Timber cladding or fencing that is in contact with ground or soil quickly begins to rot and should be removed or altered to be clear of the ground.  Old rotting fences should be removed. Firewood located nearby? This should be elevated off the ground and covered with a tarp to keep dry. The presence of mulch up against a building is another conducive condition which may not be evident to the untrained eye.  A regular inspection can identify and make recommendations on such issues.

A look around and under the house for any signs of water leaking is another ‘must’ when preventing termites as excess moisture is a huge attraction.  Leaking subfloor water and waste pipes under wet areas / leaking downpipes / overflowing gutters, are some common areas to be investigated.

Being able to spot the early signs of termite damage is another critical part of preventing major structural damage.  Some basic signs include – sagging floors; hollow sounding timber; evidence of mud tunnels (subterranean termite tubes); presence of discarded wings or termite excrement.

If you think you are at risk, and want to ensure you are doing everything you can to prevent an infestation, or just want to check if any active termites are present in your home, call Melbourne House Check now for a comprehensive pest inspection.  This thorough check is the best way to assess for risk and to illustrate the most effective methods for prevention.

Melbourne House Check conduct both building and pest inspections. Call us anytime regarding an  inspection at your own house or one that you are considering purchasing. Bookings can be made through our website or by calling our office on 1300 729 352.

Read our other articles on termite inspections and termite damage

Termite infestation in a new home under 2 years old

Self diagnosing termite issues

Building inspections also look for termites

Pest inspections in Melbourne – conditions to look for

Our Termatrac radar devices

Termite infestation in New Home under 2 years old

1 in 4 Australian homes will be affected by termites in their lifetime. Regardless of whether you are building an extension, renovation, new home, or purchase of an existing property, it is vital for adequate termite protection to be installed to the property to prevent the access of these unwanted pests. If purchasing an existing property, it is critical that the history of the property is obtained and to check if termites have been previously present, or if a treatment has been recently completed on the property.

In our building and pest inspections, many things are taken into account when considering what is the best option for a treatment such as topography of the site, known risk factors of the area and construction techniques must also be taken into account.

In a new home, the builder is usually responsible for the installation of the barrier system and ensuring that it complies with the regulations and manufacturer’s instructions. The owner also has some obligations.

The owner is usually responsible for ensuring that there are regular inspections to detect termite activities. These should be done at least every 12 months and more often in high risk areas and should cover the whole property within the boundary and not just the main building itself. If you do detect termites, do not disturb them or their workings in any way. It will be more difficult for a professional to eradicate them if they have been disturbed. If termites are found, call your builder or a pest control agent. Your local Master Builders will be able to give the names of competent and reliable operators.

Alternatively, Melbourne House Check can offer some contact information for reliable contractors upon booking of an inspection.

The following link is an article from the Herald Sun highlighting the increased risks of termites in Melbourne following last year’s wet spring creating ideal conditions for termite infestation – conditions which have reportedly lead to a plague of the wood-chewing insects.

Last week, a Melbourne House Check inspector completed a Building and Pest Inspection in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne on a house that is less than two years old. Evidence of termite damage was noted to a stair balustrade on the upper level. A mud lead was also found in the sub-floor where they were getting access into the property. The owner had no records of the termite treatment that was installed at the time of construction, and the owner now faces the predicament and potentially costly exercise of figuring out the extent of the damage by removal of wall linings etc. Conditions in the subfloor void of the dwelling were very conducive to termite infestation including excess moisture (damp soil) and inadequate ventilation. A New Home Handover inspection at the time of Practical Completion would have picked up these deficiencies and may have prevented such an infestation.

It just goes to show, new homes are just as susceptible to termite infestation as older homes and termite colonies do not discriminate. Regardless of the age of the home, call Melbourne House Check now on 1300 729 352 to have an inspection completed and put your mind at ease. Or contact us online with any questions you might have at

Read our other articles on termite inspections and termite damage

Is your house at risk of termite infestation?

Self diagnosing termite issues

Building inspections also look for termites

Pest inspections in Melbourne – conditions to look for

Our Termatrac radar devices

Inspection Nightmare

Buying a property is one of the biggest decisions a person makes in their lifetime, and whether it is a recently built house or a 100 year old renovators delight, it is of paramount importance to have an expert cast their eye over the things which may not be obvious to the untrained house hunter.  The stress of buying a house can be increased by making last minute decisions, and all too often an inspection is not carried out prior to auctions or a contract of sale is signed without a ‘subject to inspection’ clause, because purchasers are rushing around trying to get the property at the best possible price.

All too often Melbourne House Check attend inspections because a purchaser has uncovered some defects after settlement and they decide “for their own peace of mind” they should follow up with an inspection that they regret not doing at the time of purchase.

Just last week one of our inspectors completed a Building and Pest Report on a property in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.  At first glance, and to the inexperienced purchaser, this house appeared in relatively good condition.  A bid at auction won the property, and then having time to think (although it was too late to change their mind), decided an inspection was required after all.

Some of the many defects picked up by our inspector included:

  • Termite damage to floorboards (concealed by floor coverings)

  • Termite damage to skirting boards

  • Termite damage to ceiling joists

(There is no way of telling the full extent of the structural damage caused by the termites until wall liningsand  other visual limitations are removed)

  • Borer damage to bearers in sub-floor

  • Borer damage to floorboards


  • Asbestos cladding to external walls – extensive (all sides)

  • Asbestos cladding to internal walls – approx. 1/3 of the house

  • Severe decay to window frames causing leaks to wall cavities (not visible from ground level). Replacement required to over half of the windows in the dwelling.

  • Water leaks from the shower causing severe decay of sub-floor framing – extensive structural framing rectification required.
  • Inadequate drainage – water ponding on the ground in the sub-floor. Additional drains required to the high side of the site.

  • Rusted roofing components including roof sheets, ponding gutters and flashings

  • Severe decay of timber framing components to the garage

These and many more defects were itemised in our comprehensive report.

It can be shattering to hear the news, that the house you plan to renovate and live, may not be worth the future headaches, and demolition / re-build is the most viable option. Carrying out inspections prior to auctions allows informed decisions, and situations such as the one that these clients find themselves in can be avoided.

If you have found a house you are keen to purchase, whether it be private sale or auction, call us now to avoid potentially huge costs to repair issues such as those listed above.  We conduct inspections anywhere in Melbourne and are waiting for your call to help you with any issues you wish to discuss – 1300 729 352. Or contact us online at

Do You Have A Drainage Problem?

You don’t need to be an experienced building inspector to know that puddles in the sub-floor void of your home, or a lake on the front lawn are signs of a drainage issue to your property. However many drainage problems are not so obvious. Below is a list of some of the more subtle signs that commonly occur at inspections carried out by our experienced team of inspectors at Melbourne House Check, and how you can save yourself thousands of dollars by identifying these issues now before they become bigger problems down the track.

1. Overflowing Gutters – Apart from actually checking the gutters in the middle of a downpour, some other signs that gutters might be spilling water adjacent to foundations are – dirty streaks on the outer face of gutter or external wall cladding, and paint peeling off the house or fascias in vertical strips are sure signs that there is an issue with the gutters. It might be as simple as leaves and debris causing blockages to downpipes; or perhaps gutters do not fall correctly, creating ponding which may require re-alignment or replacement.

2. Cracks in foundations or brick walls – Small cracks often appear as houses settle over a period of time. However excess moisture in the ground adjacent to foundation, can create pressure that causes the cracks to continue to open up. Any crack larger than 3mm in width can potentially be a problem, and requires attention. Monitor the cracks by recording the width at a particular point. If you notice that the cracks are increasing, you have potential problems and urgent rectification of drainage issues could be required.

3. Damp soil or musty smells in the sub-floor void – These issues are not always obvious to the untrained eye. That is, there does not need to be puddles or mud present in order for moisture to cause wet rot decay to timber stumps or foundation movement to concrete pads or strip footings. Sometimes water stains are visible to the bottom or stumps, or efflorescence to brick walls (white flakey mineral deposits left behind by evaporating water). Often this occurs when external ground levels are higher than ground levels under the house and surface water wants to find its natural low point.

4. Gulley’s carved in landscaping / movement of soil or mulch – You might find after a rainfall that mulch or silt is dumped on pathways or areas where they shouldn’t be. Or gulley’s are carved in garden beds. The water run-off causes this erosion or movement when there is excessive water and it is not draining as it should.

Identifying issues of poor drainage at an early stage is essential, in order to prevent serious structural issues in the future. If you think you have a potential problem but are having difficulty finding the source, inspectors at Melbourne House Check are here to assist you. We conduct house inspections Melbourne wide, so please callfor advice on 1300 729 352. Alternatively, complete our on-line query request form and we will contact you to arrange an inspection.

The attached photos were taken during an inspection this week in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, highlighting why it is crucial to identify and rectify such drainage problems as soon as possible.

Self Diagnosing Termite Issues

Termites are considered to be a bigger threat to structural damage in Australian houses than any other factor – more than wind, fire and flooding. However these pests are very secretive and are almost always very difficult to detect to the untrained eye. In many cases, termites find their way into homes without being detected until substantial damage has been discovered.

The primary type of termite which has the biggest effect on structures around Melbourne and other parts of Australia are subterranean termites. These colonies live underground in loose, damp soil, or often in the base of large trees, up to 50 metres away from an infested building. However they are also known to build colonies in walls or furniture and there are many telltale signs which can point to a termite infestation.

Because termites mostly live underground and in the walls of a home, it is unlikely that the termites themselves will be seen. However some signs to look for include:

• Mud tubes on exterior surfaces of stumps or concrete slab foundations. Termites build these tunnels to protect themselves from the elements and are able to traverse from the food source to nest without being disturbed.

• Wings from the alate caste (flying termite) are all of the same size and have a silvery appearance, and many of these are often deposited near the entry point into a home.

• Termite droppings look like small, wood coloured pellets and can be found if damage is located within a home.

A check for existing damage would include looking for any buckling or hollow sounding floor or wall timber when you knock on it (especially if access is possible to sub-floor or roof voids). Doors and windows may become difficult to open when infested, as tunnelling termites can warp the frames. Many foundations these days are made of concrete, and although termites do not eat concrete, they are able to burrow through very small cracks within brickwork or other cladding to gain access to timber floor joists and bearers. Once they are inside the boundary walls, a colony is able to spread throughout a structure quickly and easily feasting on the accessible timber without being detected.

Self Diagnosing a termite infestation can be tempting in order to save a little money, however there is a risk that missing signs of an infestation and may cause bigger structural issues in the future. It is always therefore recommended that if you suspect termites may be present, a professional with the necessary training should be engaged to confirm whether an infestation is present. The risks of missing a termite problem greatly outweigh the short term benefits you will get from trying to diagnose the problem yourself.

In you are considering purchasing a property, or simply require a check of your own property, Melbourne House Check conduct building and pest inspections Melbourne wide. Call us on 1300 729 352 for a quote or discussion on your requirements.

Read our other articles on termite inspections and termite damage

Is your house at risk of termite infestation?

Termite infestation in a new home under 2 years old

Building inspections also look for termites

Pest inspections in Melbourne – conditions to look for

Our Termatrac radar devices

Inspection reveals plumbing leaks in the subfloor

Leaking water pipes under a house is something that can be occurring for weeks, months or even years before it is detected.  Not many owners of property climb into their sub-floor void to check whether their plumbing services are adequate and so when it comes to buying a property, it is vital that a check is conducted to ensure that excess water has not caused structural damage.

Excess water in a subfloor can cause foundations to move due to the change in ground conditions; or fungal decay (wet rot) can eat away at any of the structural timber even if it is a very minor leak.

Excess moisture in a subfloor is also a condition which is a major attraction for termites and makes a house much more susceptible to termite attack. See our other blog posts on sub floor issues here.

Here at Melbourne House Check, our inspectors regularly come across plumbing defects in sub-floors that would cost the purchaser very large sums of money to rectify after the sale.  And if they had not had a Building Inspection carried out, they may have purchased the property without any knowledge of the costs to be bourne by them in the near future.

The attached video shows a severe leak in a hot water pipe that was identified recently under a house in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne while undertaking a Building and Pest inspection.  It cannot be determined exactly how long this pipe had been leaking for, but had the client not engaged Melbourne House Check to conduct the inspection, this defect my not have been identified and major structural issues may have become apparent within weeks or even days after settlement.

Click here to learn more about our building and pest inspection service.

If you are considering buying a property, it is critical that an inspection is undertaken to prevent these sort of defects becoming a problem for you down the track.  We are available to offer free phone advice whenever required regarding not only plumbing work but any element of a house. Please call Melbourne House Check now to book a property inspection.

interior house cracks 1

What do cracks mean inside a house?

interior house cracks 1It is very difficult to determine how serious a wall crack is, but it is possible to analyse the crack and the surrounding area to determine whether it is a surface blemish or whether a more serious underlying structural issue is present.  All structures have some degree of settlement within the first few months, and sometimes years after construction, and minor cracks are likely to be visible.  When conducting Pre-Purchase Building Inspections and Condition Reports, the inspectors at Melbourne House Check will help identify the cause of any cracking and potential rectification measures necessary.

Some characteristics of cracks which might indicate that there is a more serious factor at play include:

  • Width of the crack is larger than 3mm
  • The crack does not run in a straight line – ie is jagged, stepped or one side higher than the other
  • Doors in the area no longer close, or sticky windows that are difficult to open due to excessive building movement

There are countless number of issues that could be causing the cracking within a property including (to name just a few):

  • foundations that are moving due to excessive moisture in the subfloor
  • inadequate foundations in reactive soils or poorly installed stumps in the sub-floor
  • old timber stumps that require replacement
  • inadequate bracing within stud walls

Melbourne House Check encounter issues such as the ones above regularly and our experienced inspectors are here to assist with your decision by correctly identifying whether cracking within a house has an underlying structural problem.  If you are considering buying a property contact us to arrange an inspection now to ensure you do not make a potentially very costly mistake.

altered truss in roof

Roof void defects in houses

Altered truss example 1A thorough building inspection must involve accessing the roof void of a house, whether it be for a 100 year old property or a newly constructed dwelling. Too often Melbourne House Check encounter issues which greatly affect whether a purchaser may decide to withdraw from a contract of sale, or enforce the builder of a new home to complete rectification works prior to handover of  new property.

Some of the more common issues that we find in houses regularly when accessing the roof void include:

  • Missing insulation. This will greatly affect the thermal efficiency of a property, increasing costs in gas and electricity.
  • Cracked roof tiles that are sometimes difficult to detect from above, may be able to be detected from the roof void below. Many building inspectors will not walk on a tiled roof of an older home has they age and are easily cracked. We therefore ensure we view both sides to check for potential water leaks.
  • Inadequate downlight protectors. Often there is no protection around the downlights to prevent insulation coming in contact with the downlight and is a major fire hazard. Alternatively the protection is made from cardboard or other non-fire resistant product.  This greatly increases the risk of fire in a house.

In addition to these common issues, we sometimes come across major structural defects which require urgent rectification by a builder and/or carpenter where a roof may have sagged or deflected due to any number of reasons including: inadequate propping; size of hanging beams are inadequate; span of collar ties are too great; or the support struts have been incorrectly fitted – just to name a few. Termite attack is also another major cause of structural failure in roof spaces which is why we recommend that a pest inspection is also completed whenever a building inspection is carried out by Melbourne house Check.

Altered truss example 2Recently Melbourne House Check carried out a New Home Handover Inspection at a property in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. The client had just had their dream home completed by one of Melbourne’s largest volume builders, however what we found in the roof space was alarming.  When the heating unit had been installed in the roof space, five trusses in a row had been altered by removing the web (diagonal member of a truss) in order to fit the heating unit in the roof cavity.  No additional bracing had been installed to strengthen the affected trusses, nor advice provided by an engineer or the truss manufacturer prior to Melbourne House Check identifying this issue.  Over time, this defect would be very likely to cause deflection in the roof and indirectly cause a range of other structural problems with the property.  It was fortunate that we were able to identify this issue for the client ensuring that the builder completed all necessary rectification works prior to handover of the house.

It should never be taken for granted that just because a large well respected volume builder is completing the construction works, that everything will be ok.  A final handover inspection for new houses or pre-purchase building inspection for existing dwellings should always be undertaken.


Altered truss example 3Melbourne House Check conduct new home handover inspections and building and pest inspections Melbourne wide. If you wish to speak with us about a house that you are considering, we can be contacted 7 days a week on 1300 729 352.  Or alternatively, complete our on-line survey request form and we will contact you to arrange an inspection.