Beware Of Leaky Homes

Posted on Wednesday, July 17 2013

For all home buyers and in particular first home buyers, who may not be familiar with the purchasing process and what to look out for, you need to be satisfied that the home you are contemplating buying passes all it’s health tests including being satisfied that there are no water tightness issues and that it is not a ‘leaky home’.

Whilst all homes can spring a leak, the leaky house saga developed from fundamental design and construction flaws, associated with building techniques from the mid 1990’s through to 2004 when ‘monolithic cladding’ became commonly used in the construction of new homes.

What is Monolithic Cladding?

Monolithic Cladding can best be described as plaster wall cladding that has the outward appearance of a continuous wall surface, not unlike traditional plastering. In essence, these were large expanses of plaster cement surface but without the ventilation cavities that have been used in earlier home construction pre 1990’s. Any moisture or rain ingressing the wall is not able to drain away. In the absence of ventilation cavities in the walls, any such moisture or rain is therefore trapped and the rot commences. This type of exterior cladding combined with the wide use of untreated timber for construction, resulted in the progressive development of a serious problem as the untreated timber, once wet, without any type of drying ventilation provided a breeding ground for rot and mould. This resulted in structural damage, leak, odours and health damaging mould spores.

Commonly, during the 1990’s to 2004 construction techniques were timber frame walls lined with fibreglass insulation, covered in building paper, then with sheets of flat polystyrene or cement board and then coated in a plaster finish. The end product was mono (single layer) lithic appearing of stone or solid construction.

There has also been a new development of ‘leaky house stigma’ whereby buyers simply avoid buying homes that they think have the look or appearance of a leaky house.

Protect Your Investment

Before signing an Agreement for the purchase a new home, it is crucial to make sure that you are protected with the inclusion of all the right clauses and provisions including a Purchaser’s Due diligence Condition. This will allow you the opportunity to carry out and be satisfied with your due diligence enquiries within an agreed time frame after the Agreement is signed. These enquiries would include a builder’s report which should also cover checks and testing for water tightness issues. If in doubt, consult with us before signing an Agreement.

Anne Needham
Rennie Cox/Urban Legal
Barristers and Solicitors


Auckland Leaky Homes



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Expert's Bio

Anne Needham

I have over 30 years experience in providing excellent residential property legal services to clients. I have an established local (NZ based) practice and also an extensive off shore client base having acted for clients dealing with New Zealand property who are located all over the world - the internet and cellphones have made this so very easy! In addition Rennie Cox/Urban Legal has been providing legal services since 1923 and is now a progressive modern law firm providing a wide range of legal services to clients.

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