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Thread: How to ensure a home isn't leaky?

  1. #1
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    Default How to ensure a home isn't leaky?

    We're looking at buying a plaster home which seems to have been built in 1995. The agent has sent us a buildings report but we will also get our own done.

    Does anyone know if this will ensure it isn't a leaky building? Or will we still be taking a risk?

  2. #2
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    Default

    Seems a little suspicious that the agent has sent you a building report? It appears to be the norm to let you do all of that stuff, like LIM, building report etc. If I was an agent (ha ha ha) I would only give you one so that you don't get another building report, in case that shows something up.
    Building reports can be very superficial, both in the way they report and also in that their inspections are not invasive (and therefore don't reveal much). Does yours make any reference to the possibility that it is the right age, construction type etc to be a leaky building, and if so does it state categorically that it has no hidden damp/rotting issues? If this possibility is not mentioned then disregard the report (IMO).
    So yes, it could still be a risk.

  3. #3
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    We've looked at several houses that have had a buildings report provided- possibly because many houses in this area are plaster. This agent provided it with a suggestion that we get our own. I'm sure a lot of people don't bother but there is no way I'd spend that much money without one.

  4. #4
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    You will find that most building reports have a disclaimer clause which basically says they are not liable for any wrong doing if the said house is problematic. They say to the best of their knowledge, the home may be sound, but it does not mean it will not leak in say 6 months time.

    Houses are incredibly difficult to assess. Actually I would say in every case, it's down right impossible. Let's take the example of an automobile. There are standardized features a car has, such as 4 wheels, shocks, ball joints, lights, etc, and in every way, they are pretty much built in similiar fashion and implemented in the same way. So it's easy for a mechanic to do WOF checks on the car and can tell if a ball joint is sloppy and needs replacement or can do a compression test on the motor to assess how bad it's burning oil. This kind of approach can not be done to all houses. The problem isn't so much that houses can be built in so many ways but rather, virtually every area of the house could pose a potential problem. Since you asked about leaks, the truth is a building inspector can in no way, look at every inch of the house to see any sign of water damage.

    Newly renovated houses are classic to this example. An auto mechanic that fail a WOF on body rust does NOT want to see the vehicle returned fully painted. They want to see what repairs were done to the body before the paint goes on. This is because no one can see what's under the paint job. No different than a building inspector can't see what's under the Gib boards of a newly renovated house.

    Window dressing is BIG business in newly renovated home sales. This is not to say the house you are looking to buy is leaky. But if you take common sense like people do to avoid certain model of cars (that are lemons), the same principal should be applied to houses too. You may know that NZ had a period where treated timber wasn't allowed to be used (circa 1995? -> 2004?). It turned out the greenies were wrong and so the NZ gov't re-introduced it back. Could we make such an assumption that houses constructed without treated timber framing were inferior to ones did have treated timber?

    Even today the way houses are built are still not 100% right against water proofing. My uncle insisted that the wall cladding should pass ABOVE the suffit (eaves). Instead, new houses with say brick cladding are only built just up the level of the suffit boards. If a house was on the hillside, rain could blow upwards into the suffit cracks and cause potential water damage. Of course in the normal sense, one wouldn't think water can blow upwards.

  5. #5
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    Default Monolithic

    The plaster homes you should be very weary about are the monolithic cladding system. This is plaster that goes over polystyrene insulation. Notorious for having leaky house syndrome. One local major building outfit told me those houses leaks because of "poor quality materials". I beg to differ. The design of the cladding system was severely FLAWED for NZ climates.

    If the house you are looking at has such a cladding system, I would take a more evasive approach and test for wood rot. Have the building inspector drill and probe into the wall cladding. Typically done near the top of the roof where water can easily flow into the cracks.

  6. #6
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    You also need to look at the style of building - does it have any 'in-built' balconies or features that can crack and shift, as these are notoriously the worst for letting in water. If all the walls are relatively straight and flat with good depth of eaves - 18 inches I think is recommended - it lessens the opportunity of water being able to seep in. The ones with balconies (especially problems around parapets and handrails) and no / or hardly any overhang on the eaves were the worst design.

    Also look at the depth of the walls, as this will give you an idea of insulation or at least the space between the exterior and interior. If there is no room (depth enough) for any window sill, then I would not buy it regardless of what building inspectors say.

    Check that the cladding doesn't go below any decks either, there should be a space of a couple of inches between where the cladding ends at 'ground' or deck levels.

    Make sure to ask for moisture tests:

    http://www.leakyhomeforum.co.nz/2008...re-inspection/

    Telltale signs:

    http://www.leakyhomeforum.co.nz/2008...-a-leaky-home/

    The number one issue according to this site gives rise to 64% of leaky homes claims is the lack of clearance between the ground and start of the cladding / or even cladding going below the ground level. Think of it like you would a damp course, and it should never be covered or have any earth up to the walls.
    Last edited by Ngeru; 6th February 2010 at 12:46 AM.

  7. #7
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    Also worth reading the Leaking Buildings / Homes thread.

    Ian

  8. #8
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    Default

    Not sure what area of Auckland you're in, but we used Geoff Pope from O'Hagan Building Consultants Ltd for our inspection and he did a very thorough job. He also did a lot of leaky homes work (involved in remediation court cases I think) and was travelling up to Gulf Harbour after seeing us even though he was based in Devonport.

    His contact details are 445 2144 and 027 523 3638 and geoff@weathertighinspections.co.nz. Please note these may be out of date as it is two years since we had our inspection.

    There is also a web page detailing 'leaky homes' consultants.
    http://www.bc.org.nz/other.html

  9. #9
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    Default I'll add my 2c now

    Well I suppose that'll have to be EFTPOS as there's no 2c coin anymore...and this is for everyone's benefit in case people stumble across it in the future...

    If an agent offers a pre-purchase report, remember who it was prepared for. Agents (dare I say it) are not your friend (they are employed by the vendor to get a sale) (there I said it). However, if you are offered a report comissioned by a third party, check who the report will be made out to i.e. if it is not made out to you / or your trust, then you cannot rely upon it should something go wrong. Therefore, the best form of insurance is to comission your own inspection and then the usual questions apply:
    • what level of Professional Indemnity cover do they have,
    • have they had any claims against them,
    • what training have they had,
    • what qualifications do they have,
    • how long have they been trading
    • etc.


    I would follow the links posted on this thread and read the information and consider it carefully as the house purchase is the most important capital investment many (if not all of you) will make in your life. I do not want to be investigating and repairing a property that any of you own.

    HTH
    Last edited by The Hodges; 8th February 2010 at 08:52 PM.

  10. #10
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    Default

    My husband is a RICS UK Chartered Building Surveyor and now works in Christchurch specialising in weathertight/leaky homes. Unfortunately he is very busy as even in Canterbury there are a lot of these around. We also own a poly clad house and I am pretty sure it isn't, or won't, leak as there would be no way my husband would have allowed us to build a leaky home! Mind you it was not without problems as we ended up having to get the patio broken up and relaid because the contractor laid it too high the first time which according to my husband was a very bad thing and we had a bit of a falling out with the contractor also, but that is another story...!

    From what my husband says it's best to get a weathertight expert to check it rather than making assumptions. This is more invasive than a property inspection and in my husband's firm (Property Check, Christchurch) he is the one that specialises in this because of his defect analysis skills. If anyone is in the Canterbury region and concerned about this weathertight issue then this is the Property Check website: http://www.propertycheck.org/index.html and my husband's name is Mike Beber.

    I also agree with the other comments that if we were buying a house then even if the vendor had an inspection report we would still get one of our own (but I guess when you have a surveyor for a husband then this is a no brainer!)

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