Savvy Houz Inspections - House Inspections Christchurch 021 143 2995
So, you’ve found a property that looks like it ticks all the boxes. The real estate agent reckons it’s solidly built and your DIY expert friend says it looks fine. Do you really have to get it checked out?
The short answer is yes, most definitely.
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.
The property pre-purchase inspection industry is not regulated in New Zealand, however the Real Estate Authority (REA) recommends using a qualified building inspector who has professional indemnity insurance, understands the strict legal requirements of their role and carries out their work in accordance with the New Zealand Property Inspection Standard. This is important because they will help protect you if something goes wrong later on. If you discover problems with the property that should have been evident in a building inspection, you can make a complaint to the professional body that the inspector belongs to and seek compensation through the courts.
A good property inspection isn’t cheap, 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, google local building inspection companies 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.
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
This page links you with information about building and renovating.
Search our catalogueDesign and construction topics can be searched by subject. Start with whatever you are building, add the words design and construction and do a subject search. For example:
Some subjects have their own heading, such as shelving (furniture).
Browse our latest house and garden titles.
MagazinesRBdigital Magazines features a number of building and home renovation magazines, including Home Renovations, Dwell, Inside Out, The Family Handyman and more.
Find more magazines by searching on the subject Building – Periodicals and House Construction – Periodicals.
eResourcesBuilding and construction links
Building and constructions websites listed in our Internet Gateway, including useful weathertightness links.
Standards provide specifications to be used consistently as rules, guidelines, or definitions, to ensure that materials, products, and services are fit for their purpose. Find out how you can access the ones you need.
Standards New Zealand
Search New Zealand standards and access all New Zealand (NZS) and joint Australian & New Zealand (AS/NZS) Standards that are available in PDF format. Includes New Zealand Standards and Earthquake FAQs under the “services” tab.
Access this at any of our libraries.
Home Improvement Collection
Home improvement articles for the hobbyists and the professional alike. Coverage includes architectural techniques, tool and material selection, and much more.
Use at a library or enter your library card & password / PIN.Check with your council before you startBuilding and DIY projects need to follow certain guidelines – for safety and weathertightness, for example.
Before you start a building project, it pays to be informed. For most projects, such as decks, pools, or additions, building consent needs to be applied for and issued before building work commences. Resource consent may also be required.
Working with your local councilLocal councils administer the compliance process for their area, inspecting buildings and issuing consents. Consents must be applied for and issued beforebuilding work commences. MBIE's Building Performance site has a good guide to understanding the building consent process.
The consents and licences section of the Christchurch City Council web site includes information about building forms and charges, design and planning guides, as well as information on building consents. Consent application formsare available on the Christchurch City Council site.
Other district councils, such as Selwyn, Hurunui and Waimakariri will have regulations and by-laws specific to their area.
Christchurch City Council building information
Building law in New ZealandThe Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) outlines building law in New Zealand on its Building Law and Compliance page.
GlossariesThis list will help you find authoritative sites that clearly define building-industry related terms, and act as an introduction to building law and the compliance process.
LIM – Land Information Memorandum
Information from the Christchurch City Council. Anyone may apply for a LIM, which gives information on any piece of land, including (among other information) any building consents or other authorisations applying to buildings on the land.
PIM – Project Information Memorandum
Information from the Christchurch City Council. The PIM provides an applicant with information relevant to the proposed building work, other than the normal requirements under the Building Act, 1991. This information enables the applicant to assess the feasibility of the project before proceeding with a Building Consent application with the Council.
Standards New Zealand Glossary of building terms (NZMP 4212:1998)
It is available at Tūhuratanga | Discovery, Level 3, Tūranga. New Zealand Standards are also accessible online in our libraries.
The online check.. This will give you an idea of how well your home - or the home you're thinking of buying or renting - is performing.
Once you answer a couple of introductory questions, you’ll end up on this dashboard:
Here you’ll be asked to answer 20 or so questions spread over 3 sections: dry, warm and safe & efficient. It should take you less than half an hour to complete, including some time to check under the home and in the roof space. If you know your home well, it should take you less than 10 minutes.
If you're unsure what a question means click on the information "i" to the right of the question. This will bring up helpful information on what to look for.
The online check won't give you a HomeFit certificate - for this you'll need to get a qualified HomeFit assessor to visit the property.
Getting your home HomeFit certifiedOnce you've made the improvements suggested by the online check go to “Get HomeFit certified”. This will bring up a range of local qualified HomeFit assessors who can visit your home to do the inspection and, if your home is up to the standard, give you the HomeFit certificate. You can email the assessors directly from this website.
HomeFit PLUSHomeFit has a higher standard called HomeFit PLUS. This requires homes to have:
Having a HomeFit PLUS stamp for your home will differentiate it from the rest of the market. Your HomeFit assessor will be able to tell you if it meets the standard.
Marketing a home as HomeFitIf your home is certified as HomeFit or HomeFit PLUS it will be recorded on some property websites with the HomeFit tick alongside other information such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. This means that anyone looking to buy or rent your home can have some peace of mind that it’ll be warmer, drier and safer. If for any reason you don’t want people to know your home meets the standard then please email KiaOra@HomeFit.org.nz.
The HomeFit online check reportWhile you’re completing the online check you can click at any time on the “Get your self-assessment checklist”. This will bring up a short report summarising where your home is doing well and where it could do with some improvements. You can print this out at any time and/or send this as a link in an email for example.
Installer DirectoryThe HomeFit self-assessment report includes a list of local installers and suppliers who can come to your home and sort out any outstanding issues. Many of these installers are also trained HomeFit assessors who will be able to complete the HomeFit assessment once they’ve finished any remedial work.
The report lets you email the installers and ask them to quote for the work. We recommend getting a number of quotes to make sure you’re getting value for money.
I want to use HomeFit to self-check multiple propertiesThat’s fine. Just register to use the HomeFit website and you can save multiple properties and retrieve these whenever you log in. They are visible under the "Account" button at the top of the screen. This could be useful if you are looking at multiple properties to buy or rent, or you hold a portfolio of properties. Remember though that you’ll need to get a formal assessment from a qualified assessor to be able to get a home certified as HomeFit.
What about the RTA Amendment regulations for rental properties?The qualified HomeFit assessor will also check whether your home meets the insulation and smoke alarm requirements of the Residential Tenancies (Smoke Alarms and Insulation) Regulations 2016 (RTA). Even if you’re not thinking about renting this home it’s useful to know if it would meet the standard. It’s also useful to know that the fire alarms are working and are in the right place.
…and the Healthy Home Guarantee Act (HHGA) Standards?The New Zealand Government is consulting on further requirements for rental properties likely to come in force after 2020. This will include standards for heating and ventilation as well as standards for insulation and smoke alarms (like the current RTA but maybe more stringent).
The latest consultation gives a number of different options, all of which are less rigorous than HomeFit so, if you get a home HomeFit certified, it is likely to meet the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act 2017 (HHGA). Once the Healthy Home Standards have been formally published we will update HomeFit to include a check on the HHGA.
I want to know all the techy details about what HomeFit requiresSure, you can find the HomeFit Technical Manual on the NZ Green Building Council website.
Needing to get a new building assessed?If you’ve just built, or are about to build, a brand new home that you want to be healthy, safe and warm, then go here.
Savvy house inspections are certified home-fit inspectors...book now!
Advantages of being a First Time Home Buyer
Becoming a first time home buyer is a big decision, but being a homeowner comes with many advantages. A mortgage payment combined with property taxes and insurance is often the same or only slightly more than monthly rent. Instead of throwing away your rent money, you will be building equity with each payment. Additionally, your payments will be offset by tax savings from mortgage interest deductions, which constitute most of the payment in the early years of a mortgage. Finally, real estate has historically appreciated.
Challenges of being a First Time Home Buyer
One of the biggest hurdles in the first-time buyer’s purchase is producing cash deposit for the down payment and buyer’s closing costs. If your income enables you to qualify for the necessary mortgage loan.
A good place to start the entire process is to visit a mortgage loan officer to “pre-qualify” and establish your maximum loan amount. Call Tony Mounce Mortgages today! This loan maximum, coupled with your available cash, will determine the price range in which you should look. You can begin shopping by communities you want and need, remembering that “location-location-location” can be as important as the home itself.
When shopping for a mortgage, look at the overall cost, not just the interest rate. Generally speaking, the higher the rate, the lower the number of points charged. Make sure you understand any hidden costs or special early payment penalties, which could create problems for you. Look at different mortgage products, such as shorter-term fixed-rate loans or adjustable rate loans, but be sure you understand what your “worst case scenario” is if interest rates rise.
First Time Home Buyer Real Estate Agent
Buying a home is usually an emotional decision, and you need the counsel of a reputable, knowledgeable Canterbury first time home buyer agent who can help you buy wisely. As a first-time buyer, professional real estate assistance can be crucial. You should insist that the agent work with you as a “buyer’s agent” to be your advocate in the transaction.
Fire safety; prepare or DIE!
If you have a fire extinguisher in your home, you'll be better prepared to put out small fires before they become big ones.
For businesses, please view our commercial advice on fire extinguishers.
Using a fire extinguisher
Only use a fire extinguishers when:
· It's safe to do so considering the size and location of the fire (your extinguisher will only last 10-15 seconds once started).
· You're confident you understand how to use the extinguisher correctly.
· Everyone has been evacuated and accounted for at your safe meeting place.
· Fire and Emergency New Zealand has been called.
· You can safely access and retreat from the fire.
Remember, life is more important than property. Don't put yourself or others at risk.
Operating a fire extinguisher
When operating a fire extinguisher, use the 'PTASS' technique:
· Pull the safety pin or remove the clip.
· Test squirt the extinguisher to make sure it is working.
· Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire from a safe distance. Most extinguishers are designed to be operated from about 2 - 3 metres away.
· Squeeze the handles.
· Sweep the extinguisher from side to side while aiming at the base of the fire.
Installing a fire extinguisher
You should mount fire extinguishers on the wall, out of reach of children.
Place fire extinguishers in noticeable places where they can be accessed safely, such as:
· In or near the kitchen – not too close to the stove or cooking surfaces
· In the garage
· In cars, caravans and boats
Types of fire extinguisher
There are many different types of fire extinguishers:
· Wet chemical
· Dry powder
· Carbon dioxide
· Specialised materials for Class D fires
The type of fire extinguisher you need depends on the class of fire you're most likely to experience.
There are 6 classes of fire:
· Class A (Wood paper plastics)
· Class B (Flammable & combustible liquids)
· Class C (Flammable gases)
· Class D (Fires involving combustible metals)
· Class E (Electrically energised equipment)
· Class F (Cooking oils and fats)
Choosing a fire extinguisher
The most likely type of fire to occur in your home is a cooking oil or fat fire in the kitchen. So if you're buying your first fire extinguisher, you should choose one for the kitchen that is capable of extinguishing Class F fires.
A Wet Chemical extinguisher is best for extinguishing cooking oil and fat fires. This type of extinguisher can also be used on most other classes of fire in the home. However, don't use wet chemical extinguishers on fires with a live electrical source.
While an ABE Dry Powder extinguisher is suitable for other types of fire in your home, you should never use it on a cooking oil or fat fire as the pressure from a dry powder extinguisher will cause the fire to spread.
Ideally, you should protect your home against the widest range of fire hazards with both an ABE Dry Powder extinguisher and a Wet Chemical extinguisher.
Updated 15th September 2018
Working smoke alarms are your only voice. Find out why it's important to make sure you have long-life photoelectric type smoke alarms installed in your home.
Creating an escape plan
In a fire, you'll only have 1 or 2 minutes to escape your house. That's why it's essential to have an escape plan in place and to practice it regularly.
Don't play with matches; Install a fire extinguisher now!
What is Thermal Imaging?
Thermal Imaging Reports. Infrared (thermal imaging) is an advanced, non-invasive technology that allows the inspector to show clients things about their homes or buildings that can't be revealed using conventional inspection methods.
What is thermal imaging used for?
Thermal imaging is a method of improving visibility of objects in a dark environment by detecting the objects' infrared radiation and creating an image based on that information. Thermal imaging, near-infrared illumination, low-light imaging and are the three most commonly used night vision technologies.
Updated - September 2018