Solutions to the Leaky Home Syndrome

The leaky home crisis is the greatest challenge New Zealand homeowners have ever faced.

It is unfortunate that it has affected so many kiwis – for many of us our home isn’t only one of our biggest financial investments, but one that we are also very emotionally attached to. We understand that it’s a hard pill to swallow accepting that your beloved home has been a victim to the crisis.

The Leaky Home crisis affected over 42,000 buildings across Aotearoa and has amassed over 11 billion dollars worth of damages.The silver lining to this huge figure is that at this point we have tried and tested solutions for owners of these leaky homes. While it’s unfortunate that this may have happened to you, remember that it wasn’t your fault. Homeowners didn’t see this coming, there was no way to prepare for this, and all we have to do now is find a way forward. Renovation Works are leaky home remediation specialists and we can guide you through this crisis.

So what were the events that led to the leaky home crisis? There wasn’t just one factor that triggered the sequence of events that would result in the crisis, but rather several factors that came together. Firstly, 1993 saw the implementation of the 1991 Building Act. This change saw the regulatory responsibilities taken out of the hands of the council and into the hands of the private sector. This essentially caused this regulatory process to go from being a prescriptive process to a self regulatory scheme. People took advantage of this lack of oversight to hand out compliance certificates without proper documentation and inspections. This rippled into shortcuts being taken during constructions and overall work quality decreasing across these construction projects.

This issue with building regulations was further exacerbated by the style of house that had become increasingly popular in the New Zealand market. These plaster, medeteranian style houses had complex layouts and design features that if not meticulously planned out were prone to weather tightness issues. This was due to the materials used (such as the cladding) and design features such as roofs with little to no slopes, no eaves on the windows, decks over internal rooms and many other potential problem areas. There is nothing inherently wrong with this style of home design, but rather the lack of quality craftsmanship paired with these complex designs was the perfect recipe to lead to the leaky home crisis.

The final result was a disproportionate amount of houses built between 1993 and 2004 that have weathertightness issues, taking on excessive moisture in their walls and causing extensive damage to their frame.

The excess moisture that makes its way into these homes causes a range of issues. The first affects the structural integrity of the building itself. The timber framing becomes damp and water logged, over time warping and decaying. The damage this causes can range in severity, from cracks on the walls, to ceilings inside the house sagging. In some severe cases, the building’s framing is so decayed that the structure itself is considered unstable and unsafe to live in.

There are also health risks associated with living in a damp home. They become the perfect environments for mould to grow, usually starting around the wet framework. Ths mould releases airborne spores that inevitably are breathed in by the occupants of the buildings. This causes a variety of health issues, such as wheezing and coughing, to more severe respiratory complications due to long term exposure.

So what solutions do owners of leaky home properties have? There are three many approaches most people take to solve the problem.

The first option is to sell the home. There are buyers out there that are willing to put in the work to remediate a leaky home, especially if it is in a prime location. While this option can seem tempting, it should be noted that a property with the leaky home label carries a stigma that the buyers will use to their advantage during negotiations. If you wish to sell your leaky home, keep in mind that they usually go for 30-40% under their RV. So while it may seem like the quickest way to be done with it, there is a financial incentive to look for a means of fixing your home.

The most common solution is to reclad your home. This process involves removing all the cladding from your home’s exterior to expose the timber framing. This is the only way of fully assessing the damage that has been done to your home’s structure. From here, all the damaged and decaying timber is removed and replaced with brand new treated timber. The cladding is then replaced and your problem is solved. Throughout this process, there are inspections throughout the entire process so that you have assurance that the problem has been addressed and have the supporting documentation to prove this in the future. Recladding your home is an opportunity to also change the layout of your home, or add an extension for more room and update your home’s finishings and electrical work. A home reclad is by no means a small project, so having a team like Renovation Works who specialise in leaky home remediation is you best way of making sure everything goes smoothly.

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If the damage to your home is extensive, sometimes it is easier to just tear it down and rebuild. While this can seem like a huge undertaking, it can sometimes be less complicated than dealing with a project in which parts are demolished while others are saved. It provides you with clean documentation, consents, and compliance certificates while allowing you to build your dream home. Odds are, when you purchased your home, part of the decision was its location. A new home build provides you with a modern house with no issues, built to your specifications, to meet your needs. While it can be a little heartbreaking closing the chapter on your old house, we assure you that designing and constructing a home that matches your vision for your perfect home is a wonderful experience when you partner with Renovation Works

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If you own a leaky home, there are solutions to restore the value of your property. Your first step is partnering with a company that is highly experienced and knowledgeable with the situation. Renovation Works has over 25+ years of experience in the construction industry including having a reputation for being leaky home remediation specialists. Get in touch with us today and together we can discuss the solution to solve your leaky home issue. We offer a free, no obligations, consultation.

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