Leaky buildings are a significant concern in Auckland, given the city's humid climate and the unfortunate prevalence of subpar construction practices in the past. As a seasoned building inspector in Auckland, I've seen firsthand the devastating effects of leaky buildings on property value and human health. This article sheds light on what leaky building inspections entail and why they are crucial for Auckland residents.
What is a Leaky Building?
A leaky building allows water to penetrate through its external cladding, accumulating moisture within the structure. This can result in many problems, including structural damage, mould growth, and even health issues for the inhabitants.
Why Leaky Building Inspections Are Essential
- Health Risks: Mould and mildew can lead to respiratory issues and allergies.
- Structural Integrity: Prolonged exposure to moisture can weaken the building's structural elements.
- Property Value: A leaky building can significantly reduce the resale value of your property.
- Legal Obligations: Failure to address leaks can result in legal repercussions, including fines and lawsuits.
What Does a Leaky Building Inspection Involve?
The first step is a visual inspection to identify any obvious signs of leaks, such as water stains, mould, or rotting wood.
We use specialised moisture meters to measure the moisture levels in various parts of the building, particularly in high-risk areas like bathrooms, kitchens, and basements.
Thermal imaging cameras can detect temperature variations in building materials, helping us identify hidden moisture pockets.
After the inspection, you'll receive a comprehensive report outlining the findings, with photographs and recommendations for repair or further investigation.
How to Prepare for an Inspection
- Clear Access: Ensure that all areas of the building are easily accessible.
- Documentation: Provide any previous inspection reports or building plans that you have.
- Questions: Prepare a list of concerns or questions you may have.
Leaky building inspections are not just a box to tick when buying or selling a property; they are crucial to ensure the safety, health, and financial well-being of Auckland's residents. If you suspect your building might be leaky, don't hesitate to get it inspected by a qualified professional. It's always better to be safe than sorry.
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Types of Inspections for Leaky Buildings
Leaky buildings are a significant concern, especially in regions with high humidity or frequent rainfall. Identifying the source of leaks and the extent of the damage is crucial for effective remediation. Various types of inspections can help in diagnosing and solving the problem. Here's a look at some of the most common types of inspections for leaky buildings:
Standard inspections are the most basic form of assessment for leaky buildings. These inspections involve a visual examination of the building's exterior and interior. Inspectors look for signs of water damage, such as discolouration, mould growth, and rotting materials. They also assess the condition of the roof, walls, and other structural elements to identify potential weaknesses where water could enter.
- Visual assessment
- Identification of obvious signs of water damage
- A basic report outlining areas of concern
Certified Thermal Imaging Inspections
Certified Thermal Imaging inspections use advanced infrared technology to detect temperature variations in building materials. This non-invasive method can identify areas where moisture has penetrated the structure, even if the signs are invisible to the naked eye. Thermal imaging is particularly useful for detecting leaks behind walls or under floors.
- Use of infrared technology
- Highly accurate in detecting hidden moisture
Detecting Moisture Issues
Specialized moisture meters can detect the presence of moisture in various building materials like wood, gib, and concrete. These inspections are more targeted and can quantify the moisture level, helping to assess the severity of the problem.
- Use of moisture meters
- Quantitative assessment
- Targeted inspection of suspected areas
Water leaks can lead to electrical faults, posing a significant safety risk. Inspections for electrical faults involve checking the electrical installations, wiring, and outlets, especially in areas where moisture has been detected. Any anomalies can be a sign of water damage affecting the electrical system.
- Safety assessment
- Checking electrical installations and wiring
- Identification of electrical anomalies linked to water damage
Water leaks can severely compromise the effectiveness of insulation. Insulation inspections involve checking the quality and condition of the insulating materials in walls, ceilings, and floors. Water-damaged insulation must be replaced to prevent further issues like mould growth and increased energy costs.
- Assessment of insulation quality
- Identification of water-damaged areas
- Recommendations for insulation replacement
Each of these inspections offers a different level of insight into the condition of a leaky building. A combination of these methods is often used to comprehensively understand the issues at hand, enabling more effective planning for repairs and renovations.
Non-invasive Moisture testing is included in Innohome's standard building inspection and report. Read More about Moisture testing.
Three reasons why early leak detection is important
A leak in a pipe or from an appliance can be minor if you get on it quickly, but if it goes unnoticed or is left, it can escalate into a significant problem. Early leak detection is the key to saving you time, money and hassle. Read more about what to do if you have a leaky home.
Three reasons why early leak detection is important
Leaks can cause your water bill to skyrocket
If you are on a water meter at your home, you are charged for your water usage. A hidden leak could make it look like you are using more water, pushing up your bill. One way of checking for leaks is by using your water meter as a guide. Check the reading before you will not be using water - say just before bed - and then check again after some time, e.g. first thing in the morning. If the meter reading changes, you will likely lose water from somewhere.
Leaks can be bad for your home.
If left unfixed, a hidden leak in a roof space or behind a wall can have severe consequences for the structure, your home, and your fixtures and fittings. A long-term leak can cause damage to the wooden frame of your house or your roof structure. Water seeping through the floor or walls and ceilings can damage your paintwork and carpets.
You may not be insured for this damage, depending on your policy. Some insurance companies classify a slow leak as gradual damage and will not cover it. However, many will allow it if you prove the leak was hidden. Quick leak detection will reduce the impact of the damage and possibly save you from making an insurance claim.
Leaks can be bad for your health.
A build-up of dampness and moisture in your home can lead to less clean air and the growth of mould and mildew. If this builds up, it could start causing health issues, especially if someone in your household has allergies or respiratory problems.
Leaky Building Inspections is a hassle-free way of detecting leaks, even before you can see them
Many leaks cannot be easily detected, at least not before they get too big to deal with. Common areas where leaks occur quickly but are not obvious include:
- under the house
- in a wall or concealed behind a cupboard space
- in an appliance built into the wall
- Underneath a shower tray
Moisture testing is a good way of detecting leaks, even in ceiling spaces and behind walls. Non-invasive moisture testing involves taking moisture readings using a particular machine and does not cause damage to your property. Thermal imaging moisture testing can also be used to highlight problem areas. If a problem is detected and further work is needed, invasive moisture testing may be carried out. This involves making small holes in the wall or ceiling for more accurate testing.
Because early leak detection and ensuring your property is weathertight are so important, InnoHome carries out non-invasive moisture testing as part of every pre-purchase house inspection. If the problem appears to be significant, we can arrange further invasive moisture testing.
Get in touch to arrange a pre-purchase inspection or talk to us about independent moisture testing at your property.