A leaky home is one where moisture has got between the exterior cladding and the inside walls and cannot drain away.
Many homes built in New Zealand between the late 1980s and the mid-2000s are prone to leaking because of the type of cladding that was used. This monolithic cladding system features textured walls made out of plaster over polystyrene or fibre cement sheets.
Other homes leak because of poor design or substandard building materials. Homes with poorly constructed decks or balconies are particularly prone to leaks.
Signs of a leaky home include
- Sagging ceilings or bulges in the ceiling
- Carpets or vinyl lifting
- Wooden areas like skirting boards swelling or floorboards becoming uneven
- Mould or mildew or a mouldy smell
- Cracks in the cladding
However often the problems cannot be seen by the naked eye which is why some people get caught out living in or buying a leaky building.
What to do if you’ve got a leaky home
A true leaky home must have water coming from outside the building inside. If you have a burst pipe or a leak within your plumbing, this does not qualify.
What you do depends on whether you already own the home or you are thinking of buying it. If you have discovered that the home you are thinking of buying has leak issues, then this isn’t necessarily a deal breaker.
You could get some quotes for repairs and see how much it might cost to fix. This would allow you to consider your budget and potentially negotiate on price. Another way you might negotiate is by asking the vendors to resolve the problem before you complete on the purchase. This might also require a price negotiation as it will cost the vendors money for the repairs.
If you already own the building you think is leaky then you may have to wear the costs of the repairs yourself.
However, you may be eligible to make a claim under the Weathertight Homes Resolution Services Act 2006. This gives you financial assistance for your repairs, but has strict eligibility and involves an application and assessment. You can also potentially pursue another party for the costs of repair through the Weathertight Homes Tribunal.
If you are worried about leaks, get a weather tightness inspection
If you are worried about any kind of leak in your home or a property that you are about to buy, then a weather tightness inspection can highlight any issues for you.
A weather tightness inspection begins with non-invasive moisture testing. This testing shows where higher moisture levels are, even in hidden places, but does not damage the property. Thermal imaging moisture testing can also be useful to detect hidden issues.
If there are bigger issues, you may need to carry out invasive moisture testing. This involves making small holes in the walls and other areas for testing purposes.