There has been considerable publicity over recent times about the problem of houses which are not watertight – commonly known as “leaky building syndrome”. There can be a number of causes for this, including: • Incorrect installation of monolithic cladding systems • Inadequate construction of design features which do not allow for proper deflection or drainage of water • Inadequate administration by councils and the Building Industry Authority (the latter having been set up under the Building Act 1981 to monitor the implementation of building standards) • A failure by the building industry to deliver the additional level of care and skill required for modern building systems • The use of untreated framing timber which is susceptible to rotting if moisture penetrates the outer building frame What Do You Do If You Own An Affected Property? If you observe signs of cracking, staining or discolouration either on the exterior or interior of your property, then a weather tightness specialist consultant should be engaged to assess the damage before undertaking any repairs. The consultant will be able to advise you as to the likely cause of the damage which, in turn, will enable you to assess what remedies are available to you. Weather Tight Homes Resolution Service The Weather Tight Homes Resolution Service was established pursuant to the Weather Tight Homes April/May 2006 Page 4 of 4 www.smlaw.co.nz © 2006 Resolution Services Act 2002 to assist home owners whose properties are affected by leaky building syndrome. The purpose of the Act is to provide access to “speedy, flexible and cost effective procedures” for assessment and resolution of claims. Despite this, it appears that in practice building owners are dissatisfied with the service and the high costs associated with pursuing claims. This dissatisfaction has resulted in the formation of several action groups to try and address the problem. How To Avoid Buying A Leaking Home If you are purchasing an existing property, then arrange for a professional inspection of the house to be carried out by a qualified and experienced inspector. The relevant professional or trade organisations include: • Building Officials Institute of New Zealand • Building Research Association of New Zealand Accredited Advisors • Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand • New Zealand Institute of Architects • New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors • New Zealand Institute of Quantity Surveyors If you are constructing a new home, then make sure the design takes into account the issue of weather management. This includes:- • adequate drainage • adequate ventilation so that water which leaks inside cladding can dry if it cannot drain away • using a design which ensures rain cannot enter the building through eves or other features • the use of materials which are suitable to the environment for the area in which you are building Make sure you obtain guarantees from the cladding installer, system manufacturer and your builder. In addition, check your builder is a member of Master Builders or the Certified Builders Association of New Zealand. Conclusion In an effort to prevent further problems of buildings affected by leaky building syndrome in the future, the Building Act 2004 introduced stricter compliance procedures for the building industry. However, the problem is set to continue for some time in respect of buildings constructed prior to that Act coming into force and prospective purchasers should be aware.