How to avoid buying a leaky home

Published: 14 July 2021

The leaky homes crisis has cost New Zealand billions of dollars, and it’s showing no signs of slowing. The Government claims around 42,000 homes are affected, but other experts claim the number is twice that. Buying a house is one of the biggest and most stressful times in a person’s life, so how can you be sure you’re not buying a leaky home? 

What are leaky homes?

The Building’s Act of 1991 changed building controls in New Zealand to a more self-regulated system. Unfortunately, this led to some developers cutting corners when it came to construction. Add to that the architectural trend of the time towards Mediterranean-style homes, and the increase of cladding systems, and together they made a perfect storm of sub-par housing.

These new houses tended to not provide adequate water tightness. The moisture seeped into the walls and stayed there, rotting away the wood and foundations. Sometimes this meant that the building became structurally unstable and needed to be demolished, but more often it led to damp and mould growing in the walls.

This can cause serious health issues, especially for children and the elderly. 

Damp in roof

How do you spot a leaky home?

This is where it can get tricky.

By law, a real estate agent must tell you if the house you’re looking at is a leaky home. The problem is, many realtors don’t know themselves. It’s up to the homeowners to tell them, and a lot of the time, they themselves don’t know.

Most issues with a leaky home are not visibly apparent, as the rot is happening behind walls and under floorboards. There are visual signs though you can spot if you look close enough. Musty smells are, of course a sign of damp, but smaller things like corrosion of nails or screws on fixing, are another clue. Discolouration of surfaces or carpets can mean damp underneath, as can uneven wooden floors.

The best way to check if a house is a dreaded leaky home is with a thermographic inspection.

Using a special infrared camera, a team of professionals can search a building, finding any moisture that’s hidden away from prying eyes. 

Thermographic inspection

How HS Building Inspections can help

If you’re considering buying a home, then a thermal inspection is essential. Before you sign on the dotted line, you need to be sure that this is the right home for you and your family. HS Building Inspections can show that there are no serious problems that even the current owners may not be aware of.

We use only the very latest thermal technology when inspecting a home, checking every nook and cranny for heat loss and hidden moisture. If you’re looking to buy a home, then a thermographic inspection from us can set your mind at ease, and potentially help you avoid thousands of dollars down the line.

Always remember that a proper thermal inspection should be carried out by a professional. Beware of cheap or inexperienced building inspection companies that offer a cheaper rate; what you save today could cost you tenfold tomorrow. Graham Walton, owner and operator of HS Building Inspections, has been in the industry for over 25 years. He’s a Certified Level 1 Thermographer, and an NZiBi Registered Building Inspector.  HS Building Inspections works to the highest standards of quality, safety and professionalism.

Contact or call us on 0508 733 537 if you have any questions about leaky homes, prepurchase building inspections or thermal imaging.

Our highly experienced staff will be only too happy to help answer any questions you may have.

Who are HS Building Inspections?​

​HS Building Inspections specialise in full comprehensive, non-invasive reports on your home and property. Our professional and highly experienced team are qualified to undertake building inspections, including thermographic, structural and electrical inspections.

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