Leaky Homes became a huge concern for New Zealand home owners through the 1990’s and 2000’s. In fact the stigma of leaky homes is still so great that today’s home owners could stand to lose almost a quarter of their property’s value – even after it has been repaired to current building standards
So what is Leaky Home syndrome?
Leaky building syndrome occurs when the design or construction of a building does not provide adequate water tightness. While the ingress of water is not always a problem for all buildings, some types of building design and construction allow water to penetrate, but not to escape or dry out. In these buildings, moisture levels rise and rot forms, eventually weakening the structure of the building and causing health hazards.
What are the tell-tale signs of leaky home syndrome?
Most issues with weather tightness aren’t obvious. However, if water is dripping or pooling inside your home when it rains, you are likely to have a leak. You can also look out for:
• sagging of ceiling linings
• corrosion of fixings such as screws and nails
• uneven floor surfaces, like the lifting of vinyl
• mould or fungi formation on surfaces (although this is often due to poor ventilation)
• musty smells
• swollen materials such as skirtings and architraves
• staining or discolouration of materials or surfaces
• stained or rotting carpet, or rusting of carpet fixings.
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How many homes are affected by leaky home syndrome?
A report issued by Pricewaterhouse Coopers estimates there could be up to 89,000 homes affected by leaky building syndrome. With many being outside the 10-year limitation period for legal liability.
What’s the cost of leaking homes in NZ?
The leaky buildings disaster is expected to cost the government $1 billion over the next 5 years, but only to fix some of the damaged homes. The government estimates that 70% of affected homeowners within the 10-year liability limit will take up the government assistance they are entitled to.
But the cost of leaking homes isn’t just limited to financial damage – the health costs are also potentially substantial. Dampness in walls and floors creates an environment for the growth of toxic varieties of mould, such as stachbotrys and fusarium, which can be very harmful to health.
What help is available to owners of leaking homes?
Under the new financial assistance package offered by the New Zealand Government, owners of qualifying leaking homes may be entitled to a 50% contribution to the costs of repairs. The contributions are broken down as follows:
• Central government will contribute 25% toward repair costs.
• Local authorities will contribute a further 25% of the cost. (Note: Not all territorial authorities are participating in the FAP scheme.)
• Affected homeowners will contribute the remaining 50% or 75%.
How long will it take to fix a leaking home?
On average, re-cladding takes between 3 to 6 months.
Moving to New Zealand in the Near Future?
If you are planning on moving to New Zealand in the near future, and planning on renting when you arrive, make sure you ask your landlord about leaky home syndrome or visit this site for what to look out for in your rental property.
If you are buying a property in New Zealand, make sure your lawyer investigates claims on Leaky Home Syndrome and you have a report from the NZ building industry’s recognised leaky home specialist company confirming that the property is not at risk of developing leaky home syndrome.
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