Posts Tagged ‘Leaky House Syndrome’

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

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

The Leaky House Repair Project is Back On!

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

I am about to start winding up my leaky house repair project again. I have been out of action with this remedy for several years now due to:

  • The funds I received to repair my leaky house were grossly under estimated by Prendos, hence after paying off the lawyer there was only around a 15-20% of the estimated true cost to fix the house
  • The new standards around weather tightness were not robust enough for me to be sure that they would be permanent and my house would comply for at least 25 years
  • There was so much competition in the builder market that it was near impossible to get a builder, and if you did, you would pay high prices
  • There is a current investigation into why builders are charging so much to fix leaky homes. This might expose those who have been taking too much advantage of the situation.
  • The collapse of around 20 finance companies in NZ, including one which had $55,000 of the funds I had saved towards fixing my leaking house
  • After taking off some time to heal mentally from the 8.5 years of hell going through court cases, I injured my arm, preventing me from going back to work for nearly 2 years – hence my savings are somewhat depleted

BUT!!! I am a determined person who will succeed in spite of this – and so it is time to start revamping my plans to rebuild this house and get this monster monkey off my back.

In the interim I have not been idle. I have been investigating options:

  1. Do I repair or completely rebuild? – there are cost and design issues to consider
  2. How can I integrate Green building techniques into my house without significantly increasing the cost ? – this may be a case of building in the option to change or add elements later
  3. Waiting for building costs to get off the high – the building industry is certainly slowing now so I will hopefully have better options

Learn from past rebuilds – many of the initial leaky house repairs are failing again. In fact – I have a deck and entrance area that was built AFTER the leaky house syndrome was publicised and it now has failed – so back to Court for a second time

New Methods – there are some great new technologies and building materials that have come onto the market in the past few years which are ideal for rebuilding. We will cover these in more detail later.

Coming Next: Investigating New Materials