Measure twice, drill once


March 1, 2013

Headshot: Dr. FredericksCarpenters are taught early in their training to “measure twice and cut once” to avoid costly mistakes. The same rule applies to termite inspectors when developing treatment recommendations for structures.

An integral part of the treatment plan is the inspection diagram, or graph, which details the structural components, areas of infestation and treatment specifications for a building. Precise measurements ensure that the proper volume of termiticide is calculated for application, and can also help reduce the likelihood of misapplications and property damage.

Two measurements are of particular concern to termite inspectors when developing termite treatment plans for structures: linear footage and depth to footer. Both are required for estimating the volume of termiticide that will be needed for a job, and determining the exact amount of product that needs to be applied to individual locations within and around a structure.

The practice of measuring twice can be especially useful to help increase the likelihood of identifying foundation elements that might obscure hidden areas in a structure. If both the exterior and interior foundation footprints are measured, the two can be compared.

For instance, if the linear footage around the exterior of the structure comes to 250 ft., but the interior measures 280 ft., this serves as a red flag for inspectors. If the discrepancy stems from a closet or other area that is hidden beneath a slab porch, the applicator can be alerted about the presence of the area through a notation on the diagram — which can help technicians avoid the costly mistake of drilling through a slab and injecting termiticide into a basement. Measuring twice, and comparing the size and shape of the exterior foundation measurements with the interior, will often reveal hidden portions of basements beneath porch slabs or other structural components that could result in property damage, spills and contamination if drilled and treated. So take the carpenter’s advice: Measure twice and drill once.

Contact Dr. Fredericks, technical director for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), at


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