We are very happy to announce that we are now qualified professional members of the MIANZ (Master Inspector Association of New Zealand). This is another feather in our cap, as we pride ourselves on continued professional devoplement and industry education.
MIANZ values members experience in the home and property inspection industry while promoting best practice inspection standards through better collaboration between registered master inspectors and ongoing inspector education.
The Registered Master Inspector® RMI® designation represents an inspection industry qualified inspector insofar as their experience preforming property inspections over a prolonged period is in fact a critical qualification most likely to give property owners and purchasers the most accurate summary of the buildings defects through the inspectors insights and experience in how different building materials and systems age and fail.
The Registered Master Inspector® RMI® will be in good standing and highly competent in documenting defects in such a way as all parties involved in the transaction will, after reading the property report, reach a similar conclusion and understanding as to the extent of the defects so the client may correctly identify the property's suitability to their individual threshold for maintenance and repair.
Call us today phone: 021 143 2995
Call us first for best prices... 021 143 2995
Finding a great inspector requires looking beyond their credentials, don’t wait until you have an accepted offer to look for one. You want to allow time to select the right candidate to hire an experienced professional with the right fit for your requirements.
After all, a pre-purchase house inspection is your one opportunity to get a clear view about the condition of your proposed investment, for many, will be the most expensive purchase of their lifetime. Follow our advice on how to find a truly great house inspector.
Beware of the Real Estate agent's referrals.
Your real estate agent might offer to give you some home inspectors’ names. They may be perfectly well-meaning—or not—but the references present a conflict of interest.
A real estate agent wants to close the deal, and that incentive may be at odds with that of the inspector, who gets paid for his report. If the report raises too many issues, or serious ones, it can be used to negotiate a lower price or even scuttle the deal. An inspector who has been referred by your agent may feel obligated to go easy on the inspection.
“Unless you really trust your agent, find your own inspector,” says Dean Norrie, Director of Savvy Houz Inspections, Christchurch 2020.
Hiring someone who’s certified by a professional organization can give you a bit more assurance that the inspector is knowledgeable. Certification from MBIE, LBP builder for instance, a Government regulated New Zealand Organization or Self regulated professional bodies like the NZIBI and NZCB is a good start to look.
Compare; Sample Inspection Reports.
The best way to determine how thorough an inspector will be and how well he will communicate the problems he finds is to ask for a sample report of an inspection he has done on a home like the one you’re considering buying, Dean says. “The sample report will show how much work they’re going to do,” he says. After comparing reports from a few inspectors, you’ll begin to see which ones are detailed in their observations and which are just filling their reports with generic information such as the importance of sealing a wood deck or caulking around windows to improve energy efficiency.
Training and Experience.
In addition to professional certifications, look for someone who is a qualified builder and has been in the field of inspecting house for several years. He’s more likely to have seen a variety of home types and a broad range of the type of house issues identified regularily.
Ask? What do you get for your money.
Inspectors typically charge around $500 to $1,000, depending on the home’s location and size, the inspector’s experience, and the scope of the inspection itself. Check what you get included and what extra cost may be required? It would usually cost extra to check the floor levels, moisture screening and thermal imaging if required.
Savvy Houz Inspection - 021 143 2995 - www.savvyhouz.co.nz
Insulation If you want a warm and healthy home, the first thing you need is efficient insulation. New Zealanders have come a long way from the days when the only home insulation was a rug over the knees on cold winter nights.
All insulation works by trapping a layer of warm air within the building’s ceiling, underfloor and wall layers. The theory is straightforward but the practicalities are not. For a start, there are many different types of insulation on the market. Which product is best for you?
They all have their pros and cons. Here’s a quick guide to the main types of home insulation on the New Zealand market.
This is the type most familiar to Kiwis. We’ve all seen the TV ads. It’s commonly made from recycled glass and offers excellent thermal performance, i.e. it traps heat more effectively than most other materials of the same thickness. On the downside, the glass fibres can be irritating to skin and eyes, while some people have concerns about the chemicals used to bond the fibres during manufacture.
This is often made from recycled plastic, such as PET drink bottles – an eco-friendly way to turn a waste product into a green insulation resource. It offers a good level of insulation performance, especially when installed as a large ‘blanket’ that rolls out to cover the entire roof space, including joists. This is an excellent way to minimise hidden heat loss. Harrisons Home Energy Solutions uses a polyester insulation brand that contains no chemical additives, unlike some fibreglass insulation products.
Wool and wool blend insulation
The stuff that keeps sheep warm can also be used to keep your home snug. It’s a natural product, which makes it pleasant to handle. Some brands of wool insulation are blended with resin and polyester to improve their effectiveness. Wool insulation does not work as well as some other types of insulation, so you may need to pay more to install a thicker layer.
This is basically a special kind of paper coated with bitumen and aluminium foil. It relies on its shiny surface to reflect heat, so corrosion and dust can reduce its effectiveness over time. Foil used in isolation by itself is no longer accepted as complying with the Building Code for underfloor insulation.
Foil Insulation - A ban on retrofitting or repairing foil insulation in residential properties came into force on 1 July 2016, to reduce the safety risks associated with installing this product.
The ban, declared by the Chief Executive of MBIE, applies to the following building methods:
•the installation of foil insulation into residential buildings with an existing electrical installation (retrofitting foil insulation)
•the repair of foil insulation in residential buildings with an existing electrical installation (such as stapling ripped or damaged foil back onto the floor joists of a building).
Polystyrene foam is a good insulation material that’s used increasingly in new buildings. It’s a product of the petrochemical industry so is not particularly eco-friendly. However, it needs expert installation to ensure there are no gaps where heat can leak out – these will drastically reduce its effectiveness.
Appendix A - Building Code performance settings for retrofitted insulation
The Building Code performance criteria listed below are the relevant provisions of the Code to consider when assessing retrofitted wall insulation and whether it complies with the Code. Other Building Code performance criteria may also need to be considered for the building work associated with retrofitting insulation. For example, removing and reinstating structural wall linings or drilling holes through studs would require compliance with the Building Code clause B1.3.1. However the insulation itself does not need to comply with B1.3.1 as it is not part of the structural system of a building.
It is useful to highlight upfront that the R-value of the retrofitted wall does not need to comply with the Building Code clause H1 Energy efficiency. There is no doubt that insulation is retrofitted to improve the wall R-value, but from a regulatory point of view retrofitting insulation is simply an alteration of the ‘thermal envelope’ described in H1.3.1(a). Unless the cladding, framing and linings of the wall are also reconstructed it is hard to consider how the ‘thermal envelope’ has been reconstructed, which would trigger compliance with H1.3.1(a). Therefore, the energy efficiency provisions of the Building Code are not mentioned in this section, which lists the performance criteria that insulation retrofits must comply with.
B2.3.1 Building elements must, with only normal maintenance, continue to satisfy the performance requirements of this code for the lesser of the specified intended life of the building, if stated, or:
(a) the life of the building, being not less than 50 years, if:
(iii) failure of those building elements to comply with the building code would go undetected during both normal use and maintenance of the building.
Guidance: The durability requirement in the Building Code applies only to the extent that other Building Code performance criteria apply. The Building Code requires 50 year durability for building elements that are difficult to access or replace, or where failure of the building element to comply would go undetected.
The durability requirement is not relevant to E2.3.6, which relates to moisture at the time of construction (see External moisture below). Common types of insulation are likely to meet the performance criteria F2.3.1 for a period of 50 years. Unusual types of insulation or very harsh environments may cause insulation to degrade over time and produce hazardous materials, though such a possibility could only be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
E2.3.6 Excess moisture present at the completion of construction must be capable of being dissipated without permanent damage to building elements.
Guidance: Moisture levels in most types of insulation should be at acceptable levels when installed. Moisture levels in insulation that is installed wet are likely to drop over time, provided the existing wall is vapour permeable and does not have pre-existing moisture problems. However, compliance of insulation that is installed wet with NZBC E2.3.6 will be difficult to assess given the variability in drying rates that occur and would need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis that could involve measurements.
There is no acceptable solution for the dissipation of construction moisture from retrofitted insulation. Although not directly applicable, the Acceptable Solution E2/AS1 does provide a useful upper limit of 20% for timber moisture levels in timber framed walls13. The water content of some types of insulation that are installed wet is approximately 75% by weight, so the insulation must dry out after it is installed. The moisture content of adjacent timber framing should not exceed 20%, as suggested by the Acceptable Solution.
A study of moisture levels in cavity walls show that drying rates vary widely depending on the type of wall construction, temperature and ventilation rate14. Drying times of 600 hours (i.e. 25 days) were measured for timber framing in south-facing, direct fixed walls with insulation installed in the framing cavities. In a separate study, moisture readings of timber framing in a brick veneer wall took approximately 60 days to drop below 20% moisture content after urea-formaldehyde foam was injected into the wall drainage cavity15. It was noted that the drying rate, which was measured in summer, would be significantly worse in winter and would likely result in south facing walls staying ‘wet’ throughout winter.
Factors that will affect the drying potential of insulation in a cavity wall include,
F2.3.1 The quantities of gas, liquid, radiation or solid particles emitted by materials used in the construction of buildings, shall not give rise to harmful concentrations at the surface of the material where the material is exposed, or in the atmosphere of any space.
Guidance: Provided insulation is properly manufactured and installed, in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions, it is likely that it will comply with F2.3.1.
There is no Acceptable Solution covering hazards associated with insulation. However, off-gassing and small airborne particles are the primary hazards to consider with insulation.
A number of different chemicals are used in various types of insulation materials and in the binders that hold some types of insulation together. While such chemicals can be hazardous in high concentrations, generally the concentrations that are associated with thermal insulation are not high enough to be considered problematic. Formaldehyde is such an example, and while relatively common in many different building products it is generally not found in sufficiently high concentrations to be considered hazardous.
WARNING: Retro - fitting wall insulation requires a council building consent.
Book a pre-purchase house inspection.
You have a range of options, from enlisting a builder mate to using a qualified and insured inspector. Whoever does the inspection should check the entire property. They should identify any significant defects, future or urgent maintenance issues and problems caused by gradual deterioration. They should look for structural problems, any signs that the property is a leaky building, issues caused by deferred maintenance (such as weatherboards rotting due to peeling paint) and areas where there is damp or mould.
A good property inspection isn’t cheap,($600-$1100) but if you buy a property based on advice from a builder mate who is unqualified and/or uninsured, you could end up owning some expensive problems. Even worse, you may severely limit your ability to seek damages if the property has significant issues that would have been picked up by a more thorough inspection.
One option is to make the inspection a condition of your offer on a property. If you do this, the report must be prepared by a suitably qualified building inspector. If you then use the report’s findings to get out of the contract, you must provide the seller with a copy of it. Either way, the more you invest in this exercise the safer you will be if things don’t turn out as you had expected.
You have limited other avenues if the property is not as sound as you expected. You may be able to rely on the warranties included in the sale and purchase agreement by the seller. They are required to confirm that (among other things) any work they have done on the property was carried out in accordance with any necessary permits or consents required by law. You may also have other legal options which you should speak to your lawyer about.
If you are looking to buy it’s a good idea to get in touch with a local building inspector as soon as you start your property search. Ask friends and family for their recommendations and request a sample report from any inspector you contact to get an idea of the kind of information they provide.
Depending on what a building inspection finds, you may be able to use a report to help you negotiate with the vendor over price or repairs. Even if a report only finds minor issues, you can still use it as a road map for future maintenance.
Want to know where to find a qualified inspector? www.lbp.govt.nz or us at www.savvyhouz.co.nz
CZIP People living in low-lying areas of Christchurch may need to raise the floor levels of their homes if they are repairing or rebuilding under new city council rules aimed at reducing the risk of flooding.
The council will today release flood-modelling information it has collected since the September 2010 earthquake to enable it to set floor levels for building work across the city.
The information was released to insurers in August but has not been available to property owners until now.
It potentially affects more than 10,000 properties.
Council regulation and democracy services general manager Peter Mitchell said the quakes had caused significant land damage, and ground levels across large areas of the city had dropped an average of 200 to 300 millimetres.
For some months the council had been working to better understand the extent of the damage and what needed to be done to protect properties from flooding.
Much of the work had focused on the Avon River catchment, but some investigations had been completed in the Styx and Heathcote catchments and in Sumner.
The investigations showed that of the 160,000 properties in Christchurch, 10,361 in the Avon, Styx and Heathcote catchments had the potential to flood in a 50-year rainfall event - 769 more than before the quakes.
Most of those properties were in already identified flood-management areas, but some were in adjoining areas not previously considered at risk of flooding.
"Each time the city has experienced a major [seismic] event, the land has been surveyed to ensure the council has a thorough understanding of what has been happening with the land," Mitchell said.
The Press understands that minimum floor levels in some areas are likely to change as a result of the data collected. They will come into effect immediately and could affect rebuilding plans and insurance.
Minimum floor levels of 11.8 metres above the Christchurch City datum have been in effect in flood management areas since January 2011, when variation 48 of the city plan became operative.
However, today's data release is likely to see requirements for floors to be built to that level, and possibly higher, in other areas that have sunk.
The existing flood-management areas are around the Styx, Avon and Heathcote rivers, in Lansdowne Valley and in some low-lying coastal areas, including Redcliffs and Sumner.
Reference: Lois Cairns
Check your own floor levels.
Provided by Hugo Kristinsson – www.votehugo.co.nz
If your floor levels are out, it is likely that you have greater problems in your foundations that you need to know about and need to have fixed properly.
This is normally a major repair. In general (the building code allowance) if your floors are more than 23mm out they would need re-leveling. EQC states this to be 50mm.
This device gives you a cheap and easy way to get a quick indication of where you are at. If your floor levels are out by more than 23mm and you are being offered jack and pack type solutions or a cash payout you should get additional professional advice.
What you need:
Empty and clean the bottles.
Half fill with water and freeze
Drill holes for the grommets
Melt and drain the Ice.
Install the grommets
Plug in the hose, use tape if not perfectly sealed.
Half fill the bottles with water and some food colouring for clarity. Attach both rulers so they are identically placed according to water level. Place bottles on a different level and time how long they take to come up to level. Make sure lids are not sealed as air needs to get in for the water to level. The wider the hose the quicker they will level.
Draw and room plan of your house, place one bottle at the entrance and then the other in various places throughout the house recording the + – level on your plan.
House Inspections - Christchurch - Savvy Houz call today: 021 143 2995
The standard pre-purchase inspection is a Residential Property Inspection NZS 4306:2005. This is a visual inspection of the property. This means it won't identify any problems concealed behind finished surfaces, eg plumbing, framing, insulation or wiring.
During the inspection, the inspector looks for signs of any problems, eg:
Some inspectors are happy for you to go to the inspection. This is chance to take your own photos and see any issues firsthand. Going along may cost slightly more — the inspection is likely to take longer than if they were doing it alone.
Building consentA pre-purchase inspection may identify where work has been done on the original house, eg a dug out basement, a new room or deck. It will not tell you if the renovations have building consent
Find this out from council records and/or a LIM report.
LIM report — Prepare to make an offer
Work requiring consent(external link) — Building Performance
A pre-purchase inspection looks for clues. You may need to find out more based on what's found.
Talk to Dean Norrie at Savvy Houz Inspections.
Investigations of failed buildings have identified that the majority of leaks occur through wall claddings, and a number of high-risk details and design features have been identified. While roofs have not tended to feature in failure statistics, they still need to be detailed and constructed accurately. The most common areas where water has been found to penetrate the cladding are at:
· joints and junctions at cladding penetrations (particularly around windows and doors)
· junctions between different cladding materials
· joints in the cladding
· parapet and solid balcony walls
· service penetrations (pipes and meter boxes)
· structural penetrations
· movement cracks in the cladding (particularly at joints and in monolithic finishes)
· roof-to-wall junctions
· absorption through the cladding.
While many leaks are a result of rain being driven against a building exterior at variable pressures, angles and directions (by wind), many buildings have leaked in calm conditions where water has entered the building through the effects of gravity (particularly when water has been allowed to pond on flat surfaces).
HOW WATER BEHAVES:
Water has a simple molecular structure made up of two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen. In any single water molecule, the hydrogen atoms will have 'spare' electrons that can bond to the oxygen atom of other water molecules (this is known as hydrogen bonding). This bonding allows water molecules to form a liquid and influences the properties and behaviour of water, such as surface tension and capillary action.
· Surface tension
· Capillary action
· Absorption and wicking
· Water from cleaning
When water molecules bond, those on the surface are pulled inwards by the hydrogen bond. This creates a kind of skin effect, called surface tension, which can be strong enough to resist gravity and allows droplets to cling to building surfaces.
In general, when a water droplet comes into contact with a hydrophobic material (such as gloss-painted weatherboards or glass), where there is no hydrogen bond between the water and the material, the water will tend to run off. But when a droplet comes into contact with a hydrophilic material (such as uncoated concrete or unpainted timber), which absorbs water, surface tension will cause the droplet to flatten against and hold on to the material surface. The more the droplet flattens against the material, the greater its chance of resisting gravity and being held on the surface.
Water that is being held on building surfaces by surface tension will still drain down drainage paths on the vertical face of the cladding but may also drain from the vertical surface and cling onto an adjacent horizontal surfaces. Once it is clinging to a horizontal surfaces, it can be blown into a junction where it may penetrate and cause damage. Creating a sharp transition to an upward slope or surface will make the water drip off at the junction. Surface tension therefore needs to be broken at all vertical to horizontal junctions. This is done with a drip edge, weathergroove, flashing or drip moulding. Surface tension allows water droplets to cling to building surfaces, even downwards facing ones.
Capillary action is where water bonding to two adjacent surfaces is drawn upwards against the force of gravity between the two surfaces. How far the water can be drawn upwards depends on the size of the gap between the surfaces and how hydrophobic or hydrophilic they are. Wind pressure can also act on the water and drive it upwards even further.
Incorporating a capillary break by detailing a gap of 6 mm between surfaces will stop capillary action occurring, as the surfaces will be too far apart for water to bond between them. The incorporation of weathergrooves, seals or hooks/seams on a flashing can also assist, as these will break the contact between the adjacent surfaces.
ABSORPTION AND WICKING
Absorbent or porous materials and surfaces (such as raw fibre-cement, uncoated concrete, weathered coatings and unpainted timber) will absorb moisture.
They can also wick moisture off an adjacent surface, where it can be absorbed. Once water has been absorbed, it will migrate or wick through the material from a warm area to a cold area. It may also be absorbed by other adjacent materials – for example, water may be absorbed by a poorly coated cladding and migrate through to be absorbed by a dry absorbent wall underlay and ultimately by the dry timber framing.
The use of non-absorbent materials or finishes will limit absorption, and the use of capillary breaks or a separation between surfaces (such as a gap at the bottom of the cladding above a waterproof deck) will restrict wicking. Rapid heating by the sun of surfaces containing moisture can also drive water vapour from absorbed moisture through materials – a process known as solar-driven moisture transfer.
Air contains water vapour, with the amount of vapour present increasing with temperature. As air cools, its ability to hold water vapour is reduced, and the vapour is released and condenses as water. When air is cooled by contact with a cold surface, the released vapour forms as condensation on that surface (for example, the steam created from a hot shower will condense when it comes into contact with the cooler glass of an exterior window).
If condensation occurs, it can be absorbed by materials and can cause material deterioration, so it needs to be managed within wall assemblies. This can be done by ventilation and by incorporating absorbent wall underlays or using cladding materials that have some degree of absorbency on the back of the cladding that will hold the condensation water until it dries again as a result of ventilation.
WATER FROM CLEANING
Building exteriors should only be cleaned with very low-pressure water, as high-pressure water (such as that from water blasting or a high-pressure hose) has the potential to be directed at and driven through gaps in the exterior cladding and up under flashings, where it can enter the roof or wall assembly and be absorbed by components.
High-pressure water can also damage softer cladding materials and damage or remove protective exterior coatings.
GLOSSARY 10-YEAR ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENT
To be eligible to repair your home through the Weathertight Home Resolution Services Act, the house must have been built (or alterations giving rise to the claim made to it) before 1 January 2012 and within 10 years of lodging the claim. If a Code Compliance Certificate was issued, this may be taken as the date the house was built.
The key mechanisms by which a house remains weathertight and in sound condition — deflection, drainage, drying and durability.
A prescriptive design/construction solution published by the Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). Where proposed construction follows an Acceptable Solution exactly, it must be accepted as being code compliant for that specific Building Code clause.)
AIR LEAKY CLADDINGS
Claddings such as weatherboards that allow air (and also water) to readily pass through the cladding joints. The airleakyness also assists in drying any water that gets behind the cladding
A building product or method of construction that is partly or completely different from the products or methods described in an Acceptable Solution or a Verification Method.
A means of compliance with the Building Code not wholly in accordance with an Acceptable Solution or a Verification Method. An Alternative Method becomes an Alternative Solution when accepted by a BCA and the building consent is issued
A useful or desirable feature. Building another bedroom or adding an en-suite bathroom to a bedroom increases the amenity of a property.
Building consent authority – usually a territorial authority, such as a city or district council, that has authority to issue building consents.
A technical opinion of a product or system’s fitness for purpose based on specific Building Code requirements, issued by BRANZ.
A synthetic rubber typically used as a fully adhered membrane for roofing, decking and other applications where weatherproofing is required.
A break or gap of at least 6 mm between two materials (or within one material) designed to stop the movement of water between the material(s).
A building element with slots or holes that allows water to drain from a cavity and air to circulate, while keeping vermin out.
Copper, chrome and arsenate timber preservative.
A code compliance certificate. This issued by a BCA after final inspections have been carried out. A CCC can only be issued if the building work complies with the building consent.
A compliance path is a way chosen to demonstrate compliance of intended work with the Building Code. Compliance paths include Acceptable Solutions, Product Certification, and Verification Methods.
A compliance path is a way chosen to demonstrate compliance of intended work with the Building Code. Compliance paths include Acceptable Solutions, Product Certification, and Verification Methods.A compliance path is a way chosen to demonstrate compliance of intended work with the Building Code. Compliance paths include Acceptable Solutions, Product Certification, and Verification Methods.
Damage that occurs as a consequence of a particular action or event. For example, a leak around a window may lead to such consequential damage as rotting timber framing or carpets.
A sum of money available to cover unexpected building or renovation costs.
Copper azole timber preservative.
Sometimes called safety data sheets, these documents protect the health and safety of people in the workplace by giving information on the hazards of materials and how the materials should be used, stored, transported and disposed of.
A decision by MBIE on whether a set of documents for a proposed building, a construction element or specific detail, or a recently-built building or specific building component, complies or does not comply with the Building Code.
The exterior cladding of the building is fixed over a wall underlay and directly to the framing.
Damp-proof membrane, often polythene sheeting, typically used under a concrete slab to prevent ground moisture entering the slab, or used as a ground cover under suspended timber floors.
The path water that leaks through a cladding will travel down the back of the cladding.
DRAINED AND VENTED CAVITY
Described in E2/AS1 as a 20 mm bottom-vented cavity behind lightweight wall claddings design to dry and/or drain any water that might penetrate the cladding.
The Acceptable Solution for the weathertightness of timber-framed buildings up to 10 m high and located within a low, medium, high, very high or extra high wind zone.
Water-soluble salts that crystallise on a masonry surface (brick, concrete block and concrete) as moisture evaporates from it. Efflorescence usually has a whitish appearance.
Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems – a type of wall cladding where polystyrene sheets are typically plastered with a reinforced polymer modified cement-based plaster and then painted.
A synthetic rubber membrane typically used as a fully adhered membrane to waterproof roofs and decks.
Referred to as EPS, light because it is 98% air. Often used as insulation under suspended timber floors. EPS can be recycled.
Referred to as XPS, a closed-cell, rigid type of insulation with a continuous skin surface. It has a greater density and compressive strength than expanded polystyrene (EPS).
Referred to as XPS, a closed-cell, rigid type of insulation with a continuous skin surface. It has a greater density and compressive strength than expanded polystyrene (EPS).Referred to as XPS, a closed-cell, rigid type of insulation with a continuous skin surface. It has a greater density and compressive strength than expanded polystyrene (EPS).
The board that runs along the edge of the roof at the eaves. Guttering is usually attached to the fascia.
Thin strips or areas of impervious material, often sheet metal, installed to stop water moving through a joint and into a structure. Flashings are often shaped to fit a particular location.
FLEXIBLE FLASHING TAPE
A tape installed into and around framed joinery openings (typically for windows and doors). It goes over the underlay and exposed framing. Also used at joinery heads to seal flashing upstands to the underlay.
Steel sheet or element that has a thin layer of zinc added to help protect it from corrosion.
Something that absorbs water or is easily wetted. Unsealed plaster, plasterboard, timber and fibre-cement are examples of hydrophilic materials.
A surface finish or material that does not allow water or water vapour to pass through.
INSULATING GLASS UNIT (IGU)
Double-glazing or triple-glazing.
The vertical sides of a door or window opening.
Horizontal framing that supports a floor or ceiling. Floor joists sit above the bearers.
LEAKY HOMES FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE PACKAGE
A package where the government and local council each paid 25% of the repair cost and the homeowner paid 50%. (If the council did not approve the original work or did not participate in the FAP, the homeowner paid 75% of the costs.) The scheme ran for five years from 23 July 2011 to 23 July 2016.
A fair and reasonable estimate of the actual financial damage suffered as the result of a breach of contract.
Light Organic Solvent Preservatives – insecticides and fungicides in a spirit-based carrier for treating timber
Medium density fibreboard, a compressed engineered wood product.
Monolithic cladding is sheet-cladding material (such as fibre-cement) that is plastered and coated to give a seamless finish.
A type of synthetic rubber that can be used to aid in weathertightness. For example, neoprene washers used with screws in steel roofing are slightly compressed when installed to provide a watertight seal around the screw.
NOTICE TO FIX/NOTICES TO FIX
A statutory notice issued by a building consent authority or territorial authority requiring a person to remedy a breach of the Building Act 2004 or regulations under that Act. A notice to fix can be issued where work is done without a building consent, building work does not comply with the Building Code, and so on.
The New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors (NZIBS), the main professional body for building surveyors.
A natural or organic compound with a particular type of molecular structure. Many plastics and resins are polymers.
An expert opinion often provided in building consent applications to support alternative methods of demonstrating Building Code compliance. Manufacturers, engineers, and others with specialist knowledge may complete producer statements. Producer statements are accepted at a building consent authority’s discretion.
Products or systems that are certified through the voluntary CodeMark scheme must be accepted by a building consent authority when used as specified. The scheme, established by the Building Act 2004, is a way to show that a product or system meets the requirements of the Building Code.
A product manufactured or sold by a particular company or companies, which typically have copyright or trademark ownership. Contrast with ‘generic’ products (such as ordinary black PVC plastic sheeting) where none of the manufacturers have intellectual property rights.
Plasticised polyvinyl chloride, a flexible type of plastic typically used for flooring, flexible pipes and so on. PVC is one of the most commonly used plastics. It is made from common salt (sodium chloride) and petroleum products.
Quality assurance – maintaining a particular level of quality.
Rigid air barrier – typically a proprietary sheet system (fibre-cement or plywood together with accessories such as joint flashings) applied as a rigid wall underlay to the outside face of wall framing. RAB must be submitted for consent as an alternative method.
Restricted building work is work that must be carried out or supervised by a licensed building practitioner (LBP). RBW includes work on foundations and structure, wall and roof cladding and fire safety systems for houses.
RELATIVE HUMIDITY (RH)
the percentage of water vapour in the air at a specific temperature compared to the maximum amount that the air could hold at that temperature.
Fixing faults, deficiencies and damage. A term typically used with the repair of leaky buildings.
A tool within E2/AS1 that allows designers to calculate the weathertightness risk score for each face of a particular building design. See paragraph 3.1, Figure 1 and Tables 1 and 2 in E2/AS1.
Resource Management Act 1991
A variety of blackish mould that grows on materials containing cellulose and which can be harmful to health
The detailing applied to the end of a window head or apron flashing to prevent water getting behind the cladding at the ends of the flashing.
A type of wall cladding where a reinforced sand/cement plaster is applied in two or three applications, often with a textured finish, to a non-rigid (flexible wall underlay) or rigid (plywood or fibre cement) backing. It must be painted to remain weathertight.
An underlying layer. For example, H3 CCA-treated plywood is the substrate commonly used under membrane roofs.
Where aluminium windows have a very strong spacer with a higher level of thermal performance between the inner and outer parts of the aluminium frame. BRANZ testing has shown that frames with this feature can be almost 60% more thermally efficient than those without it.
Features on the surface of the land, including hills, trees, and buildings.
Thermoplastic-sheathed cable. The type of electric cabling used in houses today
A profile where the top and bottom of the profile are parallel, but the sides are not parallel. On trapezoidal steel roofing, each side of the profile typically slopes outward.
Unplasticised polyvinyl chloride, a hard plastic typically used for window frames, pipework, cladding, guttering and downpipes.
A heavy cladding supported by a structural base that is separated from the supporting framing by a ventilated cavity. For example, brick houses today are built with brick veneer laid onto a concrete foundation, while the structural support of the house is provided by timber or steel framing behind the bricks and not by the bricks themselves.
According to the Building Act 2004, a verification method is a method by which compliance with the Building Code may be verified using an identified testing regime or method of calculation.
A flexible or rigid sheet material applied to the outside of framing to provide a second line of defence against water getting into the framing.
Grooves in the back of timber weatherboards, designed to stop the capillary movement of water across the back of the board.
WEATHERTIGHT HOMES RESOLUTION SERVICE
A service established by the government to help owners of leaky buildings.
Weathertight Homes Resolution Service
Wind regions are given in Figure 5.1 of NZS 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings.
Wind zones can be calculated from Table 5.1 of NZS 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings. They are classified as a low, medium, high, very high or extra high wind. Buildings outside of the extra high zone must have the structure specifically designed.
There are many monolithic cladding systems but some are more prone to leaky home problems.
Buildings with structural framing made from untreated timber along with non-cavity monolithic cladding systems are particularly at risk. If these cladding systems do not have a gap between the timber framing and the cladding, water can make its way in. Once in, it can't drain away or dry out and the trapped water causes the timber to rot.
This is known as; Leaky Home Syndrome.
Because the moisture is hidden, you may not be aware there is a problem for quite some time, so preventative maintenance to keep water out is critical.
Which Cladding Systems Are Common In Leaky Homes?
Monolithic claddings commonly involved with leaky home problems are those with a plaster type finish with a waterproof coating and include:
▪ EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems).
▪ Texture coated fibre-cement
The problem with these cladding systems are not the cladding themselves, but the way many of them have been installed and finished. If you have any concerns, you should seek professional advice.
Cement-based plaster is applied over a variety of backings including fibre- cement and plywood sheeting. It is then painted to ensure it is waterproof. This type of cladding has been used since the 1920s. If you have this system, check carefully for cracking of the plaster, check around flashings and where the plaster has been penetrated.
EIFS (External Insulation and Finish System) also known as External foam cladding. These cladding sheets are made up of polystyrene boards with a plaster and paint finish. Pay particular attention to the corners of windows and exposed edges and anywhere that the paint finish might wear or crack. Do not attempt to repair with sealant but contact a professional.
Texture Coated Fibre Cement
This type of cladding has been around longer than EIFS and is made from cement, fine sand and cellulose, with a textured coating applied and painted after the sheets have been installed. Because this system relies on a waterproof coating, it must be maintained. Look for cracks in the jointing which must be raked out and re-formed. Do not attempt to seal with sealant if you have problems, but contact a professional.
The Consumer Build website has a comprehensive description of problems with these cladding types.
The main things to watch out for are signs that water may have already got in such as cracks, staining, mould or moss. If you are concerned, non- invasive testing can be done (link to page)
For general maintenance, wash the cladding regularly which will extend the life of the materials. It’s particularly important for houses near the sea.
Before you wash, check for cracks or damage.
▪ Use a soft brush and low-pressure hose.
Don’t use a high pressure water blaster as it can damage claddings.
▪ Concentrate on areas rain doesn't reach, like walls sheltered by eaves.
▪ Hose off residue with plenty of water. You may need to use cleaning
Unfortunately if the design of a building is inherently flawed and/or poorly detailed, comprehensive work beyond maintenance may be required to solve the leaking long term.
Leaky Home Worries? Get your property moisture screened/checked/tested? call us on 021 143 2995
The use of asbestos materials in New Zealand dates back to the early 1900s, however, asbestos construction materials were not commercially imported into New Zealand until the early 1930s. Given its remarkable physical properties including resistance to heat, electricity and fire, as well as tolerance for chemical damage, Asbestos was deemed the perfect material for building and manufacturing following the post-war construction boom.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral made up of miniscule fibres which can be divided up into two groups and six common types. White asbestos was the most commonly used in New Zealand, as it is extremely flexible and can be woven into different materials. Its versatility meant that it was widely utilised for household and building products.
Brown asbestos was the second most common form of asbestos used, with harsher, sharp fibres to those of white asbestos. It was often used in asbestos sheeting with cement, pipe insulation, ceiling tiles and insulation for boards and thermals.
The least commonly used and most dangerous asbestos fibre, was blue asbestos. That’s not to say it wasn’t exploited like the others. Blue asbestos is well known for its resistance to extremely high temperatures and water repellent properties.
Blue asbestos fibres are incredibly thin and can be easily inhaled, making them the most hazardous for human exposure. However, all forms of asbestos should be treated with considerable caution, as they all contain fibres that can be easily inhaled and cause significant health defects.
The Health Risks of Asbestos
Asbestos itself doesn’t pose a threat if the material is tightly bound or undisturbed. Until it is broken up, exposed or damaged, the fibres won’t release into the air. When asbestos does become airborne, the risk of inhalation is extremely high and dangerous.
The fibres themselves are tiny and are easily inhaled, where they essentially become trapped in the lungs. This build-up of tiny fibres in the lung cavities can contribute to serious health concerns such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, pleural plaquing, lung scar tissue, and lung cancer. Asbestos is New Zealand’s number one killer in the workplace with approximately 170 people dying every year from asbestos related diseases.
Asbestos in New Zealand
During the increased importation of asbestos into New Zealand, the fibres were being used to mix into cement for building materials. Houses built between 1940 and 1970 are likely to contain asbestos-cement sheet roofing, tiles, cladding, or planks. The asbestos cement was malleable, inexpensive, fire resistant and durable, making it a popular choice for residential building materials.
Auckland’s Penrose founded a factory that produced asbestos cement products. It worked with white, brown and blue asbestos and had up to 600 employees at any one time during its peak. The factory continued to manufacture asbestos cement materials until the 1980s.
Between the 1950s to 1970s, asbestos materials were also applied with spray techniques. This included decorative coatings on ceilings and walls and generally contained chrysotile (white) asbestos. Vinyl floor coverings were also made with chrysotile asbestos paper backings, as well as vinyl floor tiles, sprayed fire protection and roofing membranes.
Despite the wealth of knowledge and awareness of the dangers of asbestos use, the first regulations on asbestos didn’t come into effect until 1978. From the year 2000, New Zealand integrated extensive bans on the use of asbestos materials in construction. This means that sites built since then, are most likely free of asbestos. However, this leaves the majority of residential and commercial sites built before then to be likely contaminated with asbestos deadly fibres.
Asbestos Contaminated Homes
If your home was built or renovated between the 1940 and 1990, there is a strong change that asbestos materials were used in some capacity. It’s important as a homeowner or renter to understand the risks involved in living in a home with asbestos. Across the ditch in Australia, Brisbane Asbestos removal group GBAR advise their local clients to seek professional advice before completing any renovations on a home built in the second half of the 20th century.
The only way to truly know if materials contain asbestos is to have it properly tested. Asbestos testing and survey specialists will take samples of suspecting materials and have them analysed in a lab to determine their level of hazard. Although it can be tempting to skip this sample process, it’s crucial for those who are not certified, to avoid performing any invasive asbestos tests without the necessary licensing and training.
It’s often near impossible to spot asbestos in the home without a licensed professional. However, there are a few common problem areas homeowners should be wary of. These are the sorts of places asbestos may have been used, for the construction of your property:
If you’re just about to purchase a new home, it’s crucial you have it properly surveyed before signing everything off. Having a house inspection prior to purchasing will provide you with a comprehensive report on the condition of these problem areas in an older home.
While these areas may contain asbestos materials, they may not be an actual threat. Provided there are no plans to disturb, damage or expose the material, the asbestos fibres will not become airborne and asbestos exposure is not a risk. Exposure levels will depend on the condition of the material, the type of asbestos, and the precautions taken to avoid secondary exposure.
If asbestos materials have been detected, they need to be immediately removed to avoid further health risks. It’s incredibly important to find accredited class-A asbestos assessors to handle the asbestos materials, regardless of the location and state. Licensed professionals have the equipment, knowledge, training and experience to handle asbestos without putting your home and your family at risk of exposure.
Damp homes promote mould and dust mites which can cause respiratory problems. While dehumidifiers and ventilation systems help reduce the symptoms of the problem, it’s important to track down the underlying cause of dampness in your home. The problem may be relatively cheap and easy to fix.
Condensation on windows, especially in bedrooms, isn't necessarily a sign of excessive dampness if it only happens occasionally during winter.
Where does excess moisture come from?InsideThe average NZ family produces up to 8 litres of moisture in the home each day from activities like cooking and showering. This is normal and can be managed by insulating, heating and ventilating.
Find out if your house is dampTo prevent mould growth, the amount of moisture in your home (relative humidity) should ideally be below 65% most of the time, and rooms should be heated to at least 18 degrees.
To assess the temperature and relative humidity in your house, try using a simple, low-cost hygrometer. Take readings over a few days or weeks in different rooms of your house, especially in winter, to find out where you might need to address dampness issues.
Learn more about hygrometers
OutsideSources of moisture, such as leaking pipes or damp rising from underneath your house, are often hidden and can go undetected for a long time, damaging to your home.
How to tackle sources of dampness insideTop tips
Bathroom, kitchen and laundry
Ensure extractor fans are:
Living areas and bedroomsAvoid unflued gas heatersUnflued gas heaters can be portable or have pipes fixed to the walls. They release large amounts of moisture and toxic gases into your house, and can also be a fire hazard.
If you’re using a gas heater or LPG portable heater without a vent or flue:
Whatever type of dehumidifier you use, run it together with a heater - a warm room makes it easier for a dehumidifier to extract moisture.
How to tackle sources of dampness outsideUnder floors
How to install a vapour barrier - NZ Standard for installing insulation
If you’re not sure about any of these actions, talk to a qualified builder.
Floors, walls and roofs
Registered building surveyors - New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors website
Accredited building surveyors - Building Officials of New Zealand website
Concrete floors and walls
Find out if your home is warm, dry and healthyUse HomeFit to find out if your home is warm, dry and healthy - it's a free online check designed by the Green Building Council.
Do the online check at www.homefit.org.nz
Dean Norrie, Director/Building Inspector - LBP Qualified Builder, with 20+ years residential building experience, three generations of builder in the family.