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    Termite Protection Interpretation

    Termite Protection Interpretation

    New postby RICHARD TAN on Mon Feb 02, 2009 12:11 pm

    Codeman,

    I have call several times to the county or city inspector about wood mulch within 12" of home foundation and there interpretation is that wood mulch is not cellulose, I beg to differ and relay this information to the association where I live, but the board has dictated that they want wood mulch beside the foundation (condo doc), Is the association or city inspector liable for future termite infestation.
    RICHARD TAN
     
    Posts: 60
    Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:43 am

    Re: Termite Protection Interpretation

    New postby Jerry Peck - Codeman on Mon Feb 02, 2009 1:42 pm

    Hi Richard,

    From the 2004 Florida Building Code, Residential w/2006 Revisions (underlining and bold are mine):
    - R320.8 Preparation of building site and removal of debris.
    - - R320.8.1
    - - - All building sites shall be graded to provide drainage under all portions of the building not occupied by basements.
    - - R320.8.2
    - - - The foundation and the area encompassed within 1 foot (305 mm) therein shall have all vegetation, stumps, dead roots, cardboard, trash and foreign material removed and the fill material shall be free of vegetation and foreign material. The fill shall be compacted to assure adequate support of the foundation.
    - - R320.8.3
    - - - After all work is completed, loose wood and debris shall be completely removed from under the building and within 1 foot (305 mm) thereof. All wood forms and supports shall be completely removed. This includes, but is not limited to: wooden grade stakes, forms, contraction spacers, tub trap boxes, plumbing supports, bracing, shoring, forms or other cellulose-containing material placed in any location where such materials are not clearly visible and readily removable prior to completion of the work. Wood shall not be stored in contact with the ground under any building.

    Yes, "mulch" is made from wood, it is wood chips, and as such it does contain cellulose, and, yes, termites do eat cellulose containing material. Therefore mulch should not be against a building or structure ... however ...

    This is also from the code, from the Residential code - townhouses are under the Residential code, Condominiums, however, are under the Building code, refer to next code reference for condos.
    - SECTION R320
    - - PROTECTION AGAINST TERMITES
    - - - R320.4 Concrete bearing ledge.
    - - - - Brick, stone or other veneer shall be supported by a concrete bearing ledge at least equal to the total thickness of the brick, stone or other veneer, which is poured integrally with the concrete foundation. No supplemental concrete foundation pours which will create a hidden cold joint shall be used without supplemental treatment in the foundation unless there is an approved physical barrier. An approved physical barrier shall also be installed from below the wall sill plate or first block course horizontally to embed in a mortar joint. If masonry veneer extends below grade, a termite protective treatment must be applied to the cavity created between the veneer and the foundation, in lieu of a physical barrier.
    - - - - - Exception: Veneer supported by a shelf angle or lintel secured to the foundation sidewall in accordance with ACI 530/ASCE 5/TMS 402, provided at least a 6-inch (152 mm) clear inspection space of the foundation sidewall exterior exist between the veneer and the top of any soil, sod, mulch or other organic landscaping component, deck, apron, porch, walk or any other work immediately adjacent to or adjoining the structure.

    This is also from the code, except this in from the Building code instead of the Residential code, this applies to Condominiums, which are under the Building code.
    - SECTION 2114
    - - TERMITE INSPECTION
    - - - 2114.2 Concrete bearing ledge.
    - - - - Brick, stone or other veneer shall be supported by a concrete bearing ledge at least equal to the total thickness of the brick, stone or other veneer, which is poured integrally with the concrete foundation. No supplemental concrete foundation pours which will create a hidden cold joint shall be used without supplemental treatment in the foundation unless there is an approved physical barrier. An approved physical barrier shall also be installed from below the wall sill plate or first block course horizontally to embed in a mortar joint. If masonry veneer extends below grade, a termite protective treatment must be applied to the cavity created between the veneer and the foundation, in lieu of a physical barrier.
    - - - - - Exception: Veneer supported by a shelf, angle or lintel secured to the foundation sidewall in accordance with ACI 530/ASCE 5/TMS 402, provided at least a 6-inch (152 mm) clear inspection space of the foundation sidewall exterior exist between the veneer and the top of any soil, sod, mulch or other organic landscaping component, deck, apron, porch, walk or any other work immediately adjacent to or adjoining the structure.

    Also from the Building code and applicable to condos.
    - CHAPTER 14
    - - EXTERIOR WALLS
    - - - 1403.8
    - - - - In order to provide for inspection for termite infestation, clearance between exterior wall coverings and final earth grade on the exterior of a building shall not be less than 6 inches (152 mm).
    - - - - - Exceptions:
    - - - - - - 1. Paint or decorative cementitious finish less than 5/8 inch (17.1 mm) thick adhered directly to the masonry foundation sidewall.
    - - - - - - 2. Access or vehicle ramps which rise to the interior finish floor elevation for the width of such ramps only.
    - - - - - - 3. A 4-inch (102 mm) inspection space above patio and garage slabs and entry areas.
    - - - - - - 4. If the patio has been soil treated for termites, the finish elevation may match the building interior finish floor elevations on masonry construction only.
    - - - - - - 5. Masonry veneers.

    Thus, provided that there is the required 6 inch termite inspection clear space between the top of the mulch and the top of the slab (the foundation wall on monolithic poured slabs) and which is where the masonry or frame exterior walls set, then mulch is allowed and even provided for in the Florida Building Code, Building and Residential.

    That said, though, the 6 inch clear inspection space, measured from the top of the mulch and the top of the slab, is not always provided for. One way to estimate this height difference (clear inspection space) may be to use a laser and a level, setting the level and laser on the interior floor, measuring down to the top of the slab, setting up a target outside (cardboard or wood makes a good target), then measuring down from the laser spot on the target to the top of the mulch. The distance from the laser to the mulch should be a minimum of the distance from the laser to the top of the slab (as measured inside) plus 6 inches. An example would be if you measure 2 inches down from the laser inside to the slab, then the top of the mulch would be required to be *at least* 8 inches down from the laser spot outside.

    If you find less than the required 6 inch clear termite inspection space, you could address that with the city building department for new construction - the building department SHOULD address that issue. However, for existing buildings, that would be a maintenance issue which would need to be addressed through the association office, and even before the board. I realize I've repeated the part about the required 6 inch termite inspection space, that is intentional as that is very critical for identifying and locating termite infestations.

    Neither the city building department nor the city inspector could be held responsible, however, the association's board should be able to be held accountable, as would each board member individually (you would need to check with an attorney to verify holding the board and its members responsible).

    Codeman
    Jerry Peck - CodeMan
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