Archive for the ‘Leaky House Repair’ Category

Palliside Exterior Cladding Benefits

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

This week I have been concentrating on updating my knowledge on basic building systems, and in particular the advances of modern technology that could make this home more sustainable and easier to maintain.

For instance, after suffering from the plaster perils I was keen to use only pine weatherboards in my new home. However, my interest has been peaked around the benefits of Palliside Weatherboards. Initially, I thought ” A Plastic House”- hmm not sure about that. However, after seeing the real thing in situ, it didn’t have the plastic fantastic look I was worried about. Being on a step hill along the side of an access drive to other properties, putting up scaffolding for painting is always going to be an issue.

The additional cost of Palliside cladding is offset by the faster construction [ due to the lighter product than timber], and there is no need for that initial exterior paint job.

This specially formulated PVC has been developed to withstand the super harsh UV levels in NZ and promises not to fade, chalk, or crack in any way.

Since painting is typically a 5 year cycle – this product definitely meets my 5-year criteria. However, I have yet to check out how this impacts those critical sealant points at the top corners of joinery. As these points still need to be coated every 5 years, I am not sure how one gets around this issue – will get back to you on that – or if you have the answer, please post a comment below.

Planning For 5 Year Benefits

Monday, October 25th, 2010

This last week I have been checking out the latest and greatest advances in building technology. I have considered cladding, heating, joinery, internal floor systems, kitchen appliances – you name it, I have looked at it.

As this leaky house repair project is an investment one should never have to make – it is not something that is budgeted for, so there is a strong urge to make it as cheap as possible, with a few touches of luxury. However, cheap can be bad value, in almost any investment.

In considering the products you use to repair or rebuild your leaky home you need to look the return on investment. As most of us cannot with any certainty know where our lives will be in 5 years time, I have adopted a 5 year payback policy. One overriding proviso is that the investment is known to make it easier to sell a house and one typically gets a greater than 1:1 return on the investment at the time of sale.

Simply put, since it is not expected that I own this house for any more than another few years – anything that I can claw back within 5 years is a great investment.

This has lead me to consider a number of sustainable products that are both energy efficient and reduce the need for maintenance. I will cover each of these in future blogs.

Learn more about risk mitigation of effective design and planning

3 Key Choices for Leaky Home Remedy

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

In my last post I talked about “Getting One’s Head in the Game”. Over the last few weeks I have been frantically getting quotes from architects, builders, kitchen suppliers and demolition experts. When one considers the options for remedy to a leaky house there are three main choices;

  1. Sell the property for land value + any residual building value
  2. Repair the existing property
  3. Demolish completely and rebuild

In considering each option, one must consider the unique costs involved with each. For example – in the quote I got to repair the house there was a charge of $56,000 for demolition. This cost covers the individual extraction of each support post or stud and the propping up of the framework whilst a replacement is added. This piecemeal approach is very costly. To demolish the whole house to the ground – after a day recovering any items one can use in the rebuild – is only $17,000.


A repair to a leaky house can never be nailed down until the work is in progress – so one has to be prepared to have an open checkbook. The local authorities also require extensive expert appraisal and documentation of the project, adding considerable inspection and project management fees. I would add an additional $10,000 for experts and another $20,000 on top of normal project management.

Also be prepared that to get a Code of Compliance Certificate the Council will be all over your house and expect you to add or change anything they feel currently doesn’t meet the new code. Expect no sympathy that they caused the problem – you won’t get it.


In comparison, demolition of the entire house provides the opportunity to have a more concise quote plus the ability to tweak the existing design. You know exactly where you are and the finished home is totally free of the stigma of leaky homes. The downside is that you lose any existing usage rights – so expect a lengthy resource consent process if you home currently infringes height to boundary or parking.

Sell Down

Selling down is a viable option for many home owners. Any property investor knows that the capital increase in a property is always in the land value – not the building value which decreases by at least 5% every year.
In times of low building volumes, many builders are willing to take on leaky home projects to keep their teams employed – so seek out individual builders with a proposal. They get to make the profit on the labour – or at the very least get the opportunity to upgrade their own living environment at a much lower cost.

So weigh up all the options – get quotes and use the powers of Excel to build an Analysis Decision Model to help you make that all important decision.

Happy Building

Getting Your Head In the Game

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

A big part of being able to manage getting through the rebuild of a leaky house is getting your head in the game – in the right way. One has to put all the emotions around the huge amount of money one is being forced to spend with no or little ROI, the anguish and anger at the two biggest parties at fault – BRANZ and Hardies at getting away totally scot free in this mess, the embarrassment of having to potentially downgrade your home to pay off the cost, the injustice of the whole thing – it all has to be put aside. Easier said than done – but essential.

One has to get ones head in the game in a positive way and focus on what can be done each day in four key areas:

  1. To move the project forward
  2. To make one smile
  3. To care for ones health
  4. To plan for life beyond the leaky house

Avoid talking about the project in negative terms to anyone – even all those good intending friends who are attempting to show sympathy and support – your world will become overly focused on the negative emotions surrounding the project. Instead, simply thank them for inquiring and say you would rather not ruin your day by talking about it and segue into a more positive subject.

Don’t think of the financial cost – there is nothing that can be done about that. Instead, focus on not paying in emotional costs, health costs and relationship costs. These are valuable assets in your life well worth protecting at least as much, if not more than your bank account.

Use mind tricks to keep yourself going – who cares if everyone else thinks you are away with the fairies. If it gets you through – do it. You can quickly regain your intellectual reputation after the project is finished.

Find every opportunity to smile – even when you wake up in the morning at 4am with your gut churning. Smiling seems to release hormones that have a calming nature and it is amazing how much more relaxed you feel.

Relax every chance you get – this is not a time to take on other projects in an attempt to divert your attention. Your body and mind need total relaxation. Even when you think you have it mentally covered – your body knows about your lie, and reacts accordingly.

Live one day at a time – none of us can be sure if we are going to still be alive at the end of the day, so there is no point worrying about tomorrow. And who knows – something good may just happen, even if you think your life at this moment is doomed forever.

Stay Strong

Leaky House Repair Project Update

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

The reality is finally here – I can hide from it no longer. After enduring 14 years over 2 court cases and multiple leaky house related stress and illness I am finally embarking on the rebuild. I will be entering all project data into permanent blog pages – you can access these under the heading on the right Leaky House Project.

In these pages I will be sharing decisions around the selection of different materials and trade providers – builders, suppliers, etc.

The mere thought of going through this process terrifies me – but at least now I am terrified of reality, instead of the potential as it has been to date.

I have gathered my financial resources to cover this disaster – there are no more excuses. I will keep a log of this project from a personal perspective through these blog posts. I hope they help you, as much as your feedback and suggestions help me.

Signing off with “happy building” would be such a lie – so, instead:

Stay Strong

Selecting Bathroom Hardware Fittings

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

I was standing in the bathroom fittings department of a large building supplier, and was pondering why one shower mixer cost $99 and another $347. Surely this could not all be down to the design elements – incidentially, the design of the $99 fitting was better than many at around $200.

So I asked the sales person and struck gold – he was so knowledgeable and willing to put in the time, even after I told him I was just in the scouting phase.

I was in a dilemna. One of my shower mixers had stopped working – the hot water would not come through. I didn’t want to invest a lot of money in a fitting that may only be in use for 6-9 months, yet I wasn’t ready to commit to buying a complete matching suite of fittings for 2 bathrooms + 2 cloakrooms. Until the full building price for the rebuild was more ‘reliable’ – which is probably after we are halfway through the rebuild’ I didn’t know whether I would be able to complete the bathroom refits during the rebuild or at a later date.

This is what he shared with me:

Shower Mixer – The cheaper fittings generally have the same functionality as that more expensive fittings, however the copper used is a cheaper grade, and not as durable. In addition, the warranty on lower cost options were on a 12 month ‘return to store’ basis. This means if something goes awry, you have to dismantle the shower, take it back to the supplier, who in turn send it to the manufacturer. In the meanwhile, you are without a shower for a few weeks. More expensive items are sold on a 5 year ‘on site repair’ basis – no fuss. The supplier arranges for the manufacturers remediation crew to fix or replace the unit at your house.

Shower Heads – these are designed for either pressurized or mains pressure systems. The way you can tell which system you are on is by turning on a shower. Now turn on another tap in the house. If the pressure in the shower reduces significantly, then you are on a pressurized system. In a mains pressure system there will only be a slight drop.

Also watch the layout of the holes. Some have a ring of holes on the outer rim, then another close to the center – this ends up giving a very uneven flow of water. More modern heads have a ‘rain water’ system where a double hole is used so that the two streams of water collide to reduce their speed from needly piercing velocity. If you like to use your shower to massage your shoulders – get a pulse system, but make sure the layout of the holes is not compromised.

Selecting the Best Rebuild Strategy

Monday, October 26th, 2009

In considering the rebuild I had to look at the overall strategy:

  1. Tear it all down and start from scratch
  2. Repair current house as is – add nothing new
  3. Repair current house, plus add a little

Start From Scratch

In considering tearing down the whole house and rebuilding from scratch, I looked at whether i could build something substantially different from the current design, it confirmed that the current layout is the best for the site. Hence there would not be a great value add by starting from scratch.

Repair Current House As Is

This would be extremely depressing. Spending over $200k for something that looks exactly the same – no value add is not something I can mentally handle.

Repair Plus

The third strategy – tear down all the rotting parts of the house, redesign those areas that were leaking to prevent further problems, and add a few extras to make me feel like I was getting something new for all my pain.

The third option was definitely the most appealing. After years of court battles and trying to work out how to finance the rebuild after paying out the legal fees, I decided that I would allow myself a limited budget to add a few improvements.

For instance – the kitchen will need to be pulled out and will most likely be further damaged – so a new kitchen is a good start

The upstairs main living floor does not have a visitor cloakroom. Instead it has lobby access to my personal en-suite bathroom. Fortunately this bathroom is a good size and with a little additional floorspace added – I can close off the existing toilet, add a handbasin and voila – a new cloakroom. The additional floor space can be used to add a new toilet into the ensuite, plus convert the existing shower into a bath/shower combo.

The downstairs bathroom [bath+Shower] has a separate toilet that is not accessible to the main bathroom – since it is immediately below the upstairs bathroom, the identical additional floor space can be used to add a toilet into this bathroom.

Obviously, this will all cost more than my limited overspend budget, but if i focus on getting the additional floorspace built, the internal fittings can remain where they are and the internal structure can be added bathroom by bathroom at a later date.

As for the kitchen – since i don’t want a kitchent that is conservative – I don’t need to buy expensive stone, granite or marble countertops – hence i have a sleek design that should be a real bonus to the house for less than $10,000, including appliances. This also gives me the opportunity to totally redesign the layout, which could certainly be improved from an entertainers perspective.

Back Into Full Rebuild Design Mode

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

I cannot believe it has been a year since I posted on my project. The delay is due to an injury preventing me from working, thus earning the money to complete the project. However, now that I am recovered enough to start a new line of work that will not aggravate the injury, i have been busy sorting through the options, getting prices etc.

In the following posts I will outline the considerations in the overall strategy
The lessons learned from hardware and building manufacturers in selecting the right products
The economic options for selecting a building firm that you can trust will not go broke [with your money] before they finish the job

Thanks for you patience

Choosing Joinery For Home Renovations & New Homes

Friday, October 17th, 2008

Joinery is a major issue in the leaky house syndrome, so I thought I would start with this material investigation first. There are several areas to consider:

  1. The building standard for my local region
  2. The type of finish used
  3. The design components that ensure weather tightness
  4. The expertise required for installation without damaging the product
  5. The thermal and noise protection properties of the glass.

Failure in Joinery in Leaky Homes

The main areas of failure include:

  1. Inadequate head flashing
  2. Inadequate side flashing
  3. Too much reliance on sealants for weathertightness to the building envelope – these sealants fail within 4-5 years
  4. No recessing of windows – the flush window design in many modern homes offers little, if no protection from driving wind and capillary action
  5. Poor joinery ventilation and water egress – the design of joinery should ensure that any moisture build up or water access is able to escape outside of the building envelope

I am investigating the various anodised and powder coated aluminium joinery products available, and how to tell good quality joinery from cheaper, inferior options without relying on price alone. Check out the new updates in the joinery section of the Remodeling Renovations Website:

Global Decisions In Fixing A Leaky House

Monday, October 13th, 2008

When fixing a house suffering from leaky house syndrome, there are some high level considerations that must be made. On my rebuild project this includes:

  • Rebuild or Repair
  • Joinery Options
  • Cladding Options
  • Roof Design and Materials

Rebuild or Repair

Is it worth repairing the house or should I rebuild a completely new home? With such stigma attached to repaired leaky houses, it is worth investigating with local real estate agents the financial impact of the stigma attached to leaky homes.

A rough calculation to rebuild the house from scratch is around $320,000. This does not include demolition of the existing house, or factor in any parts that are reusable. Reusable items include the floor, any unaffected structural elements, joinery, bathroom fittings etc. Even should I replace all joinery, it may be more cost effective to reuse the glass in the existing joinery, if it meets thermal requirements.

If the design of the house is not really to your liking, rebuilding is a great option. Unfortunately, my house is a great design for the site, so there will be virtually no design changes in rebuilding to take advantage of. However, even a few minor changes in kitchens and bathrooms, and changing the size and location of windows can make a big impact to the living enjoyment of the home.

Estimates to rebuild are in the range of $180,000 – $250,000 so one has to consider if the additional investment is worth while. With such a wide range, this is a tough decision. At $180,000 I would repair, at $250,000 I will rebuild. So this is a decision that really can only be made once the final costs are confirmed – and that may not be until they start demolition. Hence, my current view is that since the building of a new home will be almost identical in design to a repaired home, and any differences can be incorporated into a repaired home with minimal extra cost, I will design for a total rebuild and then start cutting the cost back once we ascertain what parts are reusable.

Building Acts and Trade Licensing

The Building Act in NZ was updated in 2004. This new Act includes provisions specifically to improve weather tightness and also incorporates energy efficiency items such as insulation specifications for wall, roofs and windows.

With the climatic changes in NZ over the past 5 years, we are experiencing more extreme conditions. The summers are hotter in the northern regions and the winters colder in the southern regions.

Another consideration is with trade licensing. This will provide some form of checking option for consumers that their tradesmen are qualified. From November 2007, design and building practitioners will be able to start applying to be licensed under the government’s licensed building practitioner scheme. A public register will be able online.

In addition, consumers will be able to make complaints to the Building Practitioners Board about licensed building practitioners if they carry out substandard work. Not every builder will have to have a license but at least you have the option of knowing who has and who has not.

In my case, building will hopefully start around the time this comes into effect, so I will not be able to take advantage of pre-checking, but it does give me more options if I have a problem with the builder and subs.

Next: Checking Joinery Options