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Which Standard?

Rapid Solutions Claims Manager Basil Taylor recently spoke with the Managing Director of Jim’s Building Inspections Australia and New Zealand, Paul Commerford about the difference between pre-purchase Timber Pest Inspections and Visual Termite Inspections.

In your opinion, why is there confusion about the Australian Standards for both inspections?

There is a completely separate Australian Standard for Timber Pest Inspection for the pre-purchase of a property. The real issue however is that some consultants and inspectors are not aware that there is a difference in reporting when they are doing a building and timber pest inspection under AS4349.

What does this mean for building and pest inspectors?

In very simple terms, AS4349.3 is used for clients who are looking at purchasing a property.

In all other instances AS3660.2 may be used. This might include clients who suspect termite activity in their property, or as a risk reduction strategy or to maintain termite management warranties.

What are the key differences?

AS4349.3 has a greater scope than a regular 3660 Visual Inspection. They both include coverage of:

  • Termite activity
  • Evidence of termite activity
  • Presence of conditions conducive

However, AS4349.3 also includes two more timber pests, fungal decay and borers of seasoned timber. While reporting these pests may often be included in a 3660 Visual Inspection as best practice, it’s not strictly mandated by the 3660 Standard.

AS4349.3 also includes a requirement for a Pre-inspection Agreement being signed by the client prior to the inspection being carried out. An agreement, mandated under AS4349, is required in any pre-purchase inspection, including pre-purchase timber pest inspections. An agreement is intended to alert the client to the scope of the service, the explanation of limitations and exclusions as specified in AS4349 (being such things as areas where reasonable access is normally not available due to situations such as furniture and belongings, construction features, height restrictions, etc, which are common to most buildings) so the client is aware of what you may not be able to inspect. Each client is required to sign and return this agreement, prior to the inspection being carried out.

A suggestion with 3660 Visual Inspections is to not identify the suspected species of termite. This often leaves you open from a liability stand point and most pest managers don’t like to do this. AS4349, however, demands that when termites are detected, you identify them at least to the genus level and where possible and relevant, to species level. It is still best to use as vague a language as possible when doing so, for example “is believed to be”. Our wording provides a disclaimer in the first paragraph being “Confirmation of species must be made by a lab. Based on in field observations the species identification is preliminary in nature only.” We then go on to preliminarily identify the species as required under AS4349.3.

Why is it so important to understand these standards?

Careful scrutiny of AS4349.3 and AS3660.2 is required for every timber pest and termite inspector to ensure they understand the obligations of their reporting and to ensure they are reporting to the correct Australian Standard. Knowledge is a powerful tool for conversion. Ensuring you understand both standards and their requirements will help you sell your product to your clients and help them feel at ease with the professional level of your services.

Your PI/PL insurance is not valid without a signed pre-inspection agreement that adheres to the right standard.

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