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Thread: NZ houses

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
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    62

    Default NZ houses

    I wish to share with you my knowledge of the NZ housing market. The good, the bad and the ugly. NZ houses have many problems in general. The worst type are flat roofs, stucco or monolithic cladding, usually plaster type houses with no eaves (no edge) so the rain / water runs down the side of the house wall.

    I work in a modern building less than 7 years old and the building has a major design flaw so that the water / rain runs down the side of the wall. Concrete absorbs moisture so imagine what other types of materials described above have had to put up with. Whereby the water / moisture was leaking from the concrete walls and slowing moving down the beams inside the building on the ground floor. They have to bore holes in the ceiling to get the water out. I imagine if they didnít do this then someday the cement pillars might not take the load and the building would probably collapse. That is a true story which highlights what has is going on with the building industry and it just the tip of the iceberg. Other cases with flat roofs and heavy rain / snow yes it does snow in NZ leaking from the roof. Now you get some ideal what must be going in the NZ residential market. People are not gonna scream from the top of their houses that they have a white elephant.

    In the last 10-15 years the Mediterranean look has been in for NZ. The Mediterranean look is a very flashy term for a flat roof and no eaves. It saves money and cuts down on costs. This has been a disaster in NZ. NZ rains and it rains a lot. If you want the Spanish / Mediterranean look donít built or buy that type of house in NZ. Mediterranean type apartments in the inner cities are the trendiest and hottest selling item at moment. Many of the present owners who arenít in denial, are trying to get rid of them on unsuspecting buyers like new migrants or seeking compensation through the judicial courts; taking out million dollar lawsuits against the builder/architect or council, some without success as the company goes into liquidation. We have rain a lot of rain and those type of houses are a poor substitute for NZ weather conditions. The jury is still out on monolithic / stucco cladding type houses but so far it is not looking good.

    Two main reasons have been identified for causing rot Ė use of untreated timber in construction and use of heavy insulation in walls to save energy.

    ďHeavy insulation has resulted in the closing of any air gaps within the wall and because there are no longer any gaps, the moisture that exists in the wall is unable to circulate and exit. This leads to an environment that encourages mould and fungus growth and therefore the rotting of wood.

    Not only do you have leaks you have the time bomb of mould and fungus growing inside the cavity of the wall so long term your health suffers.

    You may have heard of German craftsmanship / manufacturing / engineering? Germany tends to export a lot of stuff to other countries because of German precision.

    I have not heard that said about NZ. You might hear this expression instead said about NZ. ďNumber 8 fencing wire mentality" - the idea that you could give a Kiwi (New Zealander a piece of Number 8 Fencing Wire (a standard size commonly used to fence sheep paddocks) and they could fix anything from a broken pump to a tractor engine.

    In NZ an apprenticeship does not exit. Anyone can call themselves a Doctor in NZ and you can just about call yourself anything else like a house builder etc as well without any qualifications. The NZ government is trying to address that problem and they are starting to introduce regulations; so in the next decade you mighthave to be a registered house builder not just some cowboy who can call himself a house builder. Why have they done this? To eliminate some of the short cuts in the industry and cost cutting measures that save money but in the long run have been a disaster for house buyers with poorly built homes.

    I am not naming names in this country because it is called defamation and I will get sued into bankruptcy. Without naming names one house builder has 50 lawsuits pending. You get what you pay for. The people I have spoken too have told it to me like this. The home buyers are currently unhappy with the quality of workmanship. What tends to happen is the house builder will screw down costs to get the contract. The person they are gonna screw when they build your house is the builder and all the tradesmen working on the project, so eventually they have to cut corners etc to get the job done under budget. Which reminds me of a big Supermarket chain trying to do the same and screw the workers, to pass on the low costs to the consumer. My advice donít always go for the biggest or the cheapest. Shop around and get referrals. Speak to people who have build their house with the company etc.


    The quality and craftsmanship of NZ houses leaves a lot to be desired. There are many problems with NZ houses in general. I just want to warn potential new buyers.

    I want to warn people about buying NZ residential houses so they avoid the pitfalls and what they should watch out for when buying something that could be potentially hazardous to your health.

    Houses built prior to 1970 did not have to be insulated.
    Living in a house that is below 16įC (the World Health Organization recommended minimum for a living room) can lead to ill health and long-term health problems. Household air temperature should ideally be between 20 and 24oC, and not drop below 18įC, but New Zealand homes are often much colder than this. When temperatures drop below 16įC, levels of condensation, mould and mildew increase, resulting in an increased risk of respiratory diseases.

    300,000-400,0000 houses build in NZ are poorly insulated and donít meet the recommended 16įC (the World Health Organization recommended minimum for a living room. That means a lot wasted money in heated energy trying to keep your house warm especially in winter. Leaky Building Syndrome iss the least of your worries if your house is barely warm. People from many countries have said the same thing. NZ houses are cold, draughty and usually condensation not far behind their list.

    I have been informed that houses build in the 1960ís by Housing NZ a government agency set up to build affordable houses for low income earners are in high demand. These houses are solid, reliable and well build, the type of houses that they are slowly going back to building. Arched roofs, trusses, with eaves where the water doesnít going down the sides of the walls maybe old fashioned in design and materials but typically are the most dependable and suited for NZ's extreme weather conditions.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Northland
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    Default

    What a great post.

  3. #3
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    Apr 2006
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    West Yorkshire
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    Great post, I am going to get my oH to read it as his memory is better than mine, then again I think I will print it. Getting the right house when we evenutaly move is top of my priority.

    Thank you for the post.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Suffolk, UK
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    Great post, sound like there is more bad and ugly than good in NZ housing. I am thinking about spending a month or two in NZ soon to activate my visa and do a reccy trip.

    Housing is one of the areas I want to check out and information posted here is a great help. Would appreciate any advice on what to look out for when inspecting a built home, or for a building under construction.

    The quality of housing in UK has been declining in recent years and thought standard was poor here, but seems standard in NZ is much lower. I really feel for the poor buyers having to deal with this, must be very traumatic.

    Regards,
    Paul.

  5. #5
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    Mar 2005
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    Auckland to UK
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    Excellent post

  6. #6
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    Melbourne
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    Thanks Dean!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Manawatu - NZ
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    Very good post. Especially relate to the bit about the builders. We are looking around for a reputable firm to build the extension on our house ..................I'll let you know if we're ever successful. The words needle and haystack spring to mind.

    Diny

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Perthshire
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    Default Excellent Post

    Hi Dean

    Thats very interesting, and pretty much confirms what we found when we were there. Me thinks we will be buying a section and building our own.....if we ever finish the one we are building here..........

    Cheers

    Bean

  9. #9
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    Sep 2006
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    Hakarimata Range.
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    Default House design....

    Hi Dean,

    Great post! As an architectural and industrial designer myself I was already asking myself what the story of "typical" NZ houses would be. Of course it's not for all houses, but at least you've pointed out some pitfalls.

    As with flat roofs: I studied Frank Lloyd Wright in depth and about the only bad thing about his houses are the ones with flat roofs, the Usonian-design. Flat roofs leak a lot (in general) and there's a general problem with air-flow, condensation hits the roof and just sits there, too long. I don't design in the Frank Lloyd Wright "style" ("Never design in A style, but design with style") though.

    There are some companies in NZ selling very cheap new houses, kind of bach-like, of which I'm thinking to contact. Before moving to NZ I already made a design for the kind of house I think would match my family and NZ, very high quality bach-style I'd say Can't wait to see it standing... Dealing with "water" of any kind is standard in designing houses in the Netherlands, so from your story it probably would take some effort to get the message (how to make the perfect mix "comfort + cost + quality + simplicity + beauty + great result" through to building companies in NZ?
    Or isn't it that bad and are there companies (any names?) that you think of who would be open to innovative building techniques?
    I read there will be some kind of licensing for all builders/designers within the next year (or 2) so that should improve the overall quality of houses?

    Cheers for now, John.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    TO, Canada
    Posts
    37

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    I read your note with great interest. My first degree is in Civil Engineering though I do not work as one. Houses in Canada are generally well built and so they have to be, due to the type of weather we have. But we did have a lot of issues on the West coast when poorly built condos in BC were found to be leaking and seeping water. Your post will no doubt help those who read this forum and are in the hosuing market in NZ. Many thanks for such an informative post.
    Al

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