Saturday, August 11, 2012

Step 21 - Soil Treatment for Pest Control

After the crews are done with their rough-in and before the insulation and drywall teams cover things up inside,  I make sure to squeeze in the soil treatment for pest control. 

We live on the fringes of South Carolina's Lowcountry.  Not only are we miles from the Atlantic, but we have areas that are near or below sea level.  Basements are rare here and most of our houses are built on slabs, crawl spaces, or above drive under garages.  The homes I've taken on have been on crawl spaces 18" - three feet high or a combination of slab and crawl space.  So, as I talk about soil treatment and pest control, keep this in mind.  Where ever you are, you should still be mindful of treating your property for bug infestation, but you may just knock this out at the end, when the rest of the work is complete.

I call for the soil treatment after the rough-in because at this stage, the R/I crews will be done with any necessary digging.  My pest control guy has periodically reminded me that it's best to treat the ground after it's done being disturbed, so that's why we have this work done after the rough-in crews have moved on.

Pest control is another example of a scope in which you have to do your work ahead of time so that when R/I is done all you need to do is make a phone call, stay out of the way, and then pay up.  Now, when I don't know anything about something, I start talking to people who do.  Then I ask plenty of questions so I can make a wise decision.  Like with other trades on a renovation, you may just need to work the phone (and the mouse) to get smart on what you need to do regarding soil treatment and pest control.  That doesn't mean just getting multiple prices from contractors, but understanding what you need and what you're responsibilities are before it's time to make a decision and enter into an agreement.   

After the soil treatment, a vapor barrier (6 mil plastic) goes down in homes in which the crawl space has been treated.  This really doesn't have to be done until the very end, but I like to do it after the pest control and before insulation.  The insulation crew will appreciate it and it makes things easier for me when I check behind them.  Just like soil treatment is a necessity in our area, this plastic is not for comfort.  It's integral in Lowcountry buildings because it helps control moisture under the home.

After the soil treatment we're ready for Step 22 - Insulation 


  1. I hadn't heard of this plastic -- my house is on a crawl space (midlands SC) and there is a layer of that black garden fabric under there. (Not sure what the correct term is for that fabric)

    The termite man comes around to check my traps and I have to pay a quarterly fee for pest control. I've found that this is a necessary expense in the south, as important as water and electricity. I had no idea how big a problem termites were going to be! I wonder how people controlled termite infestations 200 years ago, before chemical treatments?

    1. Hi Katy. Since garden or landscaping fabric is meant to control weeds, I suspect the homeowner before you was focused on weeds/vines growing under there and not concerned about moisture.

      The vap. barrier helps keep moisture from forming on the insultion/floor framing, but good cross ventilation through your crawl space vents is important too. Did you know that SC has more crawl space houses than any other state? (7 out of 10 built.)

      Here's what I think about termite control 200 yrs. ago. They built their homes on the rare, high, dry ground. We've been building on the lower wetter areas remaining. Plus, the formosan termite wasn't here until 50 yrs. ago. The FT is a wood eating machine...'the super termite.'

      I guess we have to take the good with the bad: It's like spring 8 mos. a year :) ...but we have to pay those stinkin' pest control fees yr round. :(

  2. It was actually the best time to treat the soil when the rough-in has been completed because it needs to have no disturbance in order for the chemicals to work. Now that you put the vapor barrier after the soil treatment, you would more confident that your house will be less-prone to termites since the barrier controls the moisture inside in which they are attracted to.

  3. Another thing, Carlene, treating the soil against termites is temporary, so most probably, you should ask your service provider how long will the treatment last. Also, there are some factors wherein the treatment would be less-effective. These are works of nature like earthquakes, floods, and digging or removal of plants in treated soil.

  4. I was glad when my landlord at the house I rented five years ago told me he had a pest control method like this done on the property. Having a pest-free home was really important to me since I just gave birth, and I wanted a safe environment for my baby. :)