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Borer (and other) problems?

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  • Borer (and other) problems?

    I have a real borer problem in one of my properties. Have brought in several so-called borer 'professionals' to assess the problem and am really concerned about how very different the opinions, remedies and costs offered up by each of them has been. At this point, I'm not sure I can believe ANY of them about either the extent and seriousness of the problem (while none of them made a truly thorough check, they all were 'confident' that it can be sorted), or the effectiveness of their offered 'cure'.

    I've been around long enough to know that there are plenty of people in various professions who are quite willing to assure you that their services will remedy whatever problem you have, even if they really won't, just to get your business. So I've had totally useless and costly moss- treatments done on roofs which made absolutely no difference to the leak problem the treatments were supposed to remedy; I've had 3 expensive top name-brand heat pumps installed by the same guy, only to discover not only are they are not the right size (it turns out this brand doesn't make the size or type I needed, but hey, what good salesman would let THAT minor detail get in the way of a sale?) and therefore incapable of offering enough heat despite his assurances before we bought the things, but the outdoor units were also installed incorrectly (on south side of house in 2 cases, which I've subsequently discovered is a no-no).

    So regarding borer: Ironically, the last house we bought, we thought we were better informed now and so chose THE most expensive property check company in town, which charges high because they claim to do the most thorough inspection available. They assured us they were real 'pro's' and that they knew how to check for borer and all the other nasty things we enumerated. WELL, we were at house on inspection day and I noticed about 10 live borer doing their thing on a rimu door frame. I pulled a copulating couple off into my hand and showed the inspector - to which he replied "that's not borer, you can't see borer", it's microscopic"!!! He then prepared his report in which he noted borer holes in various places, but then claimed "no sign of borer dust, therefore not active" - !!!!

    I won't mention yet just exactly what remedies I've been offered, as I would first like to hear anyone else's opinion or experience in matters of borer. (I'll just say that some floor boards have already been eaten nearly through, and the problem extends to underfloor and in the attic and eaves, and who know where else - under the rough cast and in the old weatherboards and framing as well??) We HAVE tried borer bombs in previous years through out and under the house, but with borer coming back (even stronger it SEEMED!) the following season - loads of the little buggers flying happily about

    Has any one of you had a REAL borer problem, and if so what did you do about it? Did it work? Has anyone had a more serious problem like mine? I would assume so, as I see plenty of houses that have lots of immediate evidence of borer (holes in doors, frames, skirting and/or floors; creaking floor boards), but serious borer can also exist without the most telltale signs - it was not at ALL obvious in this particular house that we're dealing with now, hardly any borer holes at all when we bought it 3 yrs ago for instance (a lot more holes now). So little really useful information is available about borer, and what little info there is often contradicts other information. Meanwhile a lot of companies are making huge bucks selling expensive products like borer bombs that claim to solve the problem...

  • #2
    Hello mojo,

    I too have had ongoing borer problems over the years. I went through the phase of using bombs and injection sprays. I gave up on that when I began to find out myself how borer lives and what they do, and then realised I was wasting my time with those cheap options.

    My best result so far, and the one which makes logical sense to me, came from having the underfloor covered with a type of fungicide. It stays on the wood and when the eggs hatch and the borer work their way out, they encounter the deadly paste and drop dead. It also stops the borer from eating into the wood in the first place. It is guaranteed for ten years and is not cheap.

    However I have two properties at the moment which are causing me headaches because of borer. One is very bad and I simply am not sure about what to do.

    The borer is all over the external weatherboards and when I took some of them away I could see that they were inside the entire frame. I had my borer people look at it and they said they could not put the fungicide stuff on because they simply could not get access behind the weatherboards, and they could not do the outside because the weatherboards were painted. My concern is that the house will simply fall down. So, sell as is and run? Spend thousands on trying to sort it out with no guarantee of success? Bowl and build? Do nothing and hope for the best? All options have their pros and cons and at the moment I am gripped with indecision.

    So, I would also be interested to hear of other borer experiences and opinions.



    • #3
      In my experience borer bombs only affected the current infestaion, same with most of the injection insecticides. Some of the insecticides have residual effect, but not many. So you can get a second infestaion once they have disapated.
      An old way to control borer is to coat the exposed timber with kerosine. It does not kill the borer in the timber but stops the adults from laying more eggs in the timber for a few years. You can mix it with a insecticide to kill off the current infestation.
      Xris I have yet to hear of a house failling down because of borer alone, but yes it can be expensive to hide and patch or replace badly affect boards.


      • #4
        Can't see borer my buttocks... microscopic my buttocks again... You don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out the size of the blighters when you see the hole they make.

        Borer is overrated. Never heard of a house with borer that fell over either.

        If you see them flying well that is pretty amazing. I have never seen one fly and I think I may have killed one once that was eating my coffee table.

        I don't think you can stop borer. Why? Well how many holes can you inject adn how far do they actually enter the holes? Also the brush on treatments can only penetrate so far. I have had no success with killing off the suckers.
        How do you eat an Elephant?
        One Bite at a Time!! (Source: Spaceman)


        • #5
          Interesting replies so far, and some of it what I suspected: a) that I'd find atleast one other person on this forum with a very serious problem and just as concerned as me, and b) that I'd hear the comment "I've never heard of a house falling down from borer". Those latter are common words, spoken by many a real estate agent to assuage any concerns of prospective buyers.

          However, I HAVE had a borer 'professional' tell me that he has seen cases of houses 'falling down' (sorry, not his exact words, but the end result for the houses concerned was much the same) from borer, though he did say that was rare. Unfortunately, however rare, this does mean that there ARE people out there who HAVE owned houses that HAVE 'fallen down' from borer! And if it's true that wood has to reach a certain stage of maturity/starch levels for it to become attractive to borer, and if that stage has been reached in recent years (which it appears it has), then I have a strong suspicion that houses 'falling down from borer' will become a lot less rare very soon...

          By the way, I have had several real estate agents suggest to me that one 'solution' to borer problems is to cut ones losses and run!!! So all you investors out there looking at houses for sale, keep THAT in mind! Almost all of the houses I've come across with the worst borer problems have been rentals - obviously it's much more difficult to control borer in a property with tenants in it as a) the extent of the problem is not easy to keep track of, b) it's difficult to do borer treatment with tenants in situ, and c) tenants themselves contribute to the problem by bringing in borer-infested furniture, and by allowing the house to be damper than it should be. But on top of all that, let's face it: landlords don't like spending lots of money, and dealing with damp, rot and borer costs lots of money.

          One thing is for sure: I will never EVER buy another weatherboard or roughcast over weather board rental property again that has the slightest signs of borer (holes inside and out, creaking floor boards, evidence of borer damage under floors, etc) or damp/rot (which go hand in hand with borer) or mould (indicates damp). If there are creaking boards and they're under carpet and so can't be inspected, it's bye-bye house. Because if the floors are infested and eaten through, then why not everything else including the house framing as well?? And if any real estate agent ever says to me again: "ah, houses this age always have some borer - just let off a few bombs once a year and she'll be right", I will laugh in their faces before walking away into the sunset

          Thanks for the replies thus far - I find it fascinating to hear from the mouths of experience and to note how much your utterances differ from the (very expensive) professionals' hype. As I said before, there is VERY little in-depth and definitive information about this subject available out there, which unfortunately makes it very easy for the 'professionals' to convince the average joe to part with large sums of money on the assurances (but NOT guarantees - interestingly no-one gives a GUARANTEE - hmmm) that the problem will be solved.

          xris, I totally sympathise - it's a very stressful situation and very very difficult to know the right decision to make. I'm happy to stay in touch with you on it to compare notes (and hopefully, eventually, some solutions) if you like...


          • #6
            Why not look at how the americans deal with such things? I have seen shows where they put whole tents over the entire house and fumigate for 3 days plus.

            Send some emails to the professionals there snad see what they say? They know they won't be doing work in NZ for you so the opinion may not be so biased. try UK and Australia too and see what they say. I am sure they will have some similar type wood boring pests.
            How do you eat an Elephant?
            One Bite at a Time!! (Source: Spaceman)


            • #7
              Originally posted by AustinWong
              I have seen shows where they put whole tents over the entire house and fumigate for 3 days plus.
              Sounds like the movie ET.


              • #8
                Hi Guys

                AustinWong said
                I am sure they will have some similar type wood boring pests.
                You don't want to know what they have in Australia.

                Well I'll tell you anyway....TERMITES.
                These little blighters start from ground level upwards and eat hell out of the stumps/piles first.

                Those Aussies when buying generally get a report from a pest person just to make sure that the prospective new investment isn't too badly damaged by termites.

                At least we don't have to do that in New Zealand.

                No wonder they don't want our apples there.
                Might blight the whole scene.

                "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx


                • #9
                  The only way to be rid of borer is to get rid of the wood that the borer has made a home in. Rarely do borer holes show up on the surface of wood, but I find if I plane the bottom or top of a door then it's holier than swiss cheese, even though it looks solid and safe on the outside.

                  Replace the wood with tanalised timber, try and replace any stuctural frames with aluminium steel frames which are much stronger and resilient to all sorts of attacks including earthquakes. Every old house has borer and that is no reason to abandon it. I've just bought a ramshackle double bay villa that needs everything done to it but it is a slice of New Zealand history and therefore worth saving. Remedial action will preserve the building for many generations to come, especially with the building products that are out now. Many places have building materials that are cosmetically faithful to the era of the original house so why not? As a rule of thumb I would do one side of the house each year, and painting it with Dulux, that has a paint product they guarantee for forty years will preserve your investment.

                  We are very lucky in New Zealand that we have an abundance of turn of last century homes but because of negligent owners and greedy property developers we could lose our archetectural history.

                  Alternatively, if you are unable to afford new Tanalised timeber then scour the demolition yards. Dont let borer eat your investment, replace with historically sensitive and up to date materials.


                  • #10
                    This won't be one for everyone but...

                    I had a builing inspection done recently by an "old school" builder who reckoned this place had signs of borer in the past however as the roof cavity was full of spiders web this will keep them at bay. Apparently borer bombs etc kill the spiders aswell which is why the borer have the opportunity to come back...


                    • #11
                      I also had a building inspection, and a registered valuation done on a house, the ceiling cavity was free of all pests, no signs of rot or anything but Tower Insurance has told me that they will not insure my house (built 1900) unless I get a brand new roof. The old tin roof has been patched but it's sound according to the valuator and the building inspector, so its all a bit of a mystery to me


                      • #12
                        I once had a mortgage condition stating I must paint the roof within 6 months taking (April) the mortgage. They also wanted a photo of the house. No sane person in Christchurch paints their roof between April and October. The photo I sent them was one with the 1992 big snow. I ignored the condition and if queried I was going to say that the paint must have ran off when the ice melted...


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by muppet View Post
                          You don't want to know what they have in Australia.

                          Well I'll tell you anyway....TERMITES.
                          These little blighters start from ground level upwards and eat hell out of the stumps/piles first.

                          Those Aussies when buying generally get a report from a pest person just to make sure that the prospective new investment isn't too badly damaged by termites.

                          At least we don't have to do that in New Zealand.
                          A number of issues arising from this sad saga.
                          Hopefully something positive will come from it.



                          • #14
                            I thought there was a law that the vendor had to devulge anything that they knew about in terms of problems with a house--in this case it was obvious that someone had been through and marked and even wrote ''termites'' on a bearer.
                            Cant the vendor or agent be held responsible?


                            • #15
                              Caveat emptor.
                              You're in the wild down under now - buyer beware.
                              The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates and a monthly salary - Fred Wilson.