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Building Inspections Whakatane

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Meth Solutions Interview – Part 3

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What if someone does suspect P has been used or manufactured in a house? What is the first thing they should do?



Miles Stratford: The first thing to do is to make it a condition of offer. So that can obviously be challenging, as far as the scenario where you’ve got a property going up for auction. But let’s assume it’s not going up for auction, make it a condition of offer. T hen you try and get a due diligence period of around 10 days. The reason I say that is because the quicker you want your lab test result, the meth test results, the more expensive it is. So amongst everything else that you’ve got to do, it’s one of those factors that you can put into consideration.

So make it a condition of offer. If it is an auction scenario, let the agents know that you want to get that meth test done. If they turn around and say, “We’re not going to let you do that,” and that has happened on some occasions, then you’ve got a scenario where they’re required to declare that, that the vendor doesn’t want to get a meth test done, and you’ve probably got the answer that you were looking for anyway.



Are there any typical properties that are perfect for P-labs?meth lab



Miles Stratford: There reality is that in the 18 months that we’ve been going we’ve dealt with,many different properties. We’ve had high-valued, family-owned properties in central Auckland suburbs that have been in the same family for decades, and that have had meth labs operating in them because of middle-aged children who’ve got a meth habit, and right down to the rentals in all sorts of parts of the country that have had issues.

So we’ve got parallels with the leaky building situation, because it’s a hidden issue.
Where it’s significantly different is just that by looking at a property, you can’t necessarily pick it.
Your risk factors are investment properties, probably with the investment history, it’s going to be high.

Things that you can be looking for that might have been damaged under the property, typically that’s going to get patched up and repaired, prior to going to the market. There may be some sort of funny, solvent type smells, if things haven’t been tidied up properly. There might be smells around similar to cat urine.

But they can often be masked. If people think they’ve got a problem, they’ll often get a paintbrush out to mask the issues. Having said that, people would often put paint on the walls to make the property to look in its best condition for when they’re going to sell it, so you can see the challenge. There are so many variables that come into play.

These manufacturers are obviously pretty smart, and they want it to blend in as much as possible.



Miles Stratford: Oh, for sure. In the time that we’ve been going, there was this one property where the police were involved. Now this was a professionally managed property. It had had an inspection a month before, and the place was spotless. The tenants paid the rent on time, no reason to suspect anything untoward was going on at all. But after the police involvement, the testing that took place, it was right through the house.

So yes, there are things that you can look for which would be indicative of a lab. There might be chemical containers around the place, there might be burn marks in the garden. Let’s say it’s at rental property, somebody might have installed a security system that wasn’t in there initially.
But typically, those things get cleaned up before anybody physically goes inside to have a look at the property and that’s the biggest issue, you know? It’s not one of those things that really jumps out at you.

Peter: That just reminded me of a story. We were doing some work on a property up and it was an investment property. We were doing the top flat, and down below, there was a tenant. One of the guys that was working for us was an ex-cop, and he just smelled these smells, and it smelled like eggs, a sulphur smell. So he went downstairs and banged on the door, and couldn’t get any answer, so he rang the cops, and they turned up, and it was just the tenant cooking eggs.

Miles Stratford: You know, you can get a little bit paranoid, but I think that what home buyers really just need to be aware of is that we’ve had this issue with meth in New Zealand for more than 15 years. In that time, the official lab busts are around about the 2000 mark. But the estimate of how many that relates to the number of properties or labs that have actually been active is 5 to 10%, so 10 to 20 times multiplied. So then you get up to 20,000 to 40,000 properties or labs that might have been operated. Then labs move around, so you then get a scenario of, well, how many properties have had a meth lab operating? I’ve got no idea. What I do know is that it’s significantly more than most people would ever give it credit for. I also have lots of conversations with people who are on the wrong end of that,it’s devastating financially and emotionally and if people have been living in a place, it has a really profound effect on their health.



Why Did you get into testing for Meth?p lab clean up



We set up MethSolutions because we were involved with the monitoring side of things. We were getting lots of calls from people who didn’t have anywhere to go, and we needed to give them some answers. One of those answers was access to a real high-quality low-cost test.

Before we got involved with the meth testing, I think, you essentially had two options. One was to spend about $3000 with a laboratory, and they would come along, and they’d say, “Okay, well, lab-based testing isn’t in this room, this room, room, or this room.” They might need four or five samples within a property.

There are other guys who are using presumptive, in-field testing kits, you will probably have seen these on the internet, which charge $400 to $500. But again, they do four or five areas of the property, which is great, if you get the rooms that have actually had the problem in them. If you’re using the lab, terrific. If you’re using one of those in-field testing kits, they’re not actually particularly sensitive, you know? They sort of test upwards from currently acceptable guideline levels. If somebody’s put paint on the walls, then they’re often not going to pick up a problem.

So we tackled it from a different direction. We looked at it as to say, well, what is it that most people want an answer to?
You’re going to buy a house, what’s the question that you want answered?
The question that we came down to is: is there meth in that property, yes or no?
We wanted to do that with a really high level of integrity. So that meant using lab-based testing, because that’s the most sensitive form of testing that’s available. Then the approach that we take to sampling a property is something that they’ve been using in the U.S. for many, many years to screen out properties that aren’t known to have a meth issue. That’s called composite sampling.

What we do is use one kit supplied by Hill Laboratory, and we sample up to eight areas with that one kit. So in a three-bedroom property, that typically allows us to sample every room. Bear in mind that all we’re answering is, “Is it there, yes or no?”
We’ll take samples from the high-risk zones within each of the rooms, send it off to the laboratory and we come back with that initial answer, which from the buyer’s perspective is principally, what we need to know. Because at that point, if there is an issue, obviously, at that stage, the vendor owns the issue.
For some people it’s enough for them to step away. For other people, it’s a case of, “Well, look, I’m still interested in the property, but you need to demonstrate to me that there aren’t significant risks that are associated with it.” And in many instances, “Oh, there’s a little bit of meth there. I’m happy with that.” And 60% of the time, at the moment, there is no meth there, so I’ve got extra assurance and peace of mind that the integrity of this property is sound. It doesn’t say which room, so there are limitations to it. You can move on to doing that, but there’s just more cost that’s associated with that. And again, is that the sort of money that a purchaser wants to be spending? And I don’t think it is. Is it money that needs to be spent? Probably, if you want to be able to really tie it down to area by area.

What does a test for meth cost?meth testing certified inspectors



Miles Stratford: We’ve got a range of turnaround times, from two weeks through to three working days. If people are on a really tight due diligence period You can turn a report down and put it 24, 48 hours, and the lab takes 72, to be able to get it to the laboratory, get it processed, and for us to get the reports out to people.

So on a three-bedroom property, if it’s three days, it would be $199 plus GST. If it’s the two weeks, we’re looking at $99 plus GST. So in the overall scheme of things, it’s not a huge amount of cash.

If we’re looking at a larger property, a four- to- six bedroom property, or a property where there is a house and then a couple of out-buildings, you’d use a couple of kits, so you can get some separation between them, and you can get enough areas to sample. For three days it would be$329 plus GST.

But when you’re talking about a transaction of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the risk that’s associated with it of tens of thousands of dollars, in terms of what you pay and then what it costs to sort things out, it’s as cheap as we can make it.
We believe it’s delivering a high-value service, and like I say, it’s flushing out the problems.

So with your process, when you’re going through, and you’re doing your testing, is it invasive testing?



Miles Stratford: No, most of the sampling that gets done is what they call “surface sampling,” which is as straightforward as it sounds. So we don’t penetrate into the wall. We don’t go in behind paint zones, which is why there are some limitations.
Let’s say, if somebody has done a complete renovation on a property or there has been repaint. So if you take, for example, down a shelf, where posters, or where a whole lot of painting went on, there was a whole lot of indiscretions that got hidden then behind that paint. So what we do with our certified samplers, we’ve put them through a training program, and when they hit properties like that, we do get them to try and have a really good fussing around, you know, find the areas in the property that are more representative of the property as it was, rather than how it’s being presented now.

But nevertheless, if a place has been painted, then it can be a bit harder to find an underlying issue. For a vendor that means that if you think you might have some issues before you start chucking a paintbrush around, you’re better off getting a meth test done, because if there is a bit of meth residue in the property, and you put paint over the top of it, one, it’s harder to get rid of it, and two, if it’s picked up by a meth test, it can make it that much more uncertain for the purchaser.



Peter: When you finish with a property, that’s one of the problems that we have as building inspectors, because most of the requests come from a buyer that wants to put an offer in on a property. We’re going through and we’ve got the vendors there, wondering what we’re doing poking around, and it’s one of the things that we do say.
It’s not an invasive report that we’re doing, and we are professionals, and we do clean up after ourselves. And I think a lot of it comes down to communicating with that vendor what we’re actually doing, just to give them a wee bit of peace of mind.

Miles Stratford: Yes, I couldn’t agree more. And I think that communication is a massive part of the whole thing. Again, from a vendor’s perspective, the answer that we give them is there meth residue present?
Yes or no?
We encourage prospective purchasers to engage with the real estate agent and let them know, in terms of the output of the results as well and that way, these issues will typically get addressed properly, and they don’t carry on knocking on down the line and providing problems for people.

If someone wants to find you how do they find you? What’s the easiest place to get a hold of you?

Miles Stratford: Well, first up, thanks very much again for getting in touch with us, Peter, and showing interest in the issue. I think the more people that understand that it’s out there, the less decent people are going to get caught out by this thing.
At the end of the day, that whole knock on effect of meth, if it can get nipped in the bud, then the impacts are reduced.
In terms of getting hold of us, the website is www.methsolutions.co.nz , M-E-T-H solutions.co.nz
If people want to phone up and give us a ring, it’s 0800-638-4522.


Meth Solutions Interview Part Two

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So if was discovered that a house had been a meth lab, would it go on a LIM report?

Miles Stratford: Yeah, if the authorities are involved, then yes, it does go on the LIM report. So the process there is if the police identify it, they will send a letter to Council or the territorial authority. Then the Council will send out a requisition or put a requisition on the property and notify the owner to address it.

Now some Councils around the country are still in the habit of taking it off the LIM once the cleanup has been done. We’ve gotten involved with an Auckland Regional Meth Working Group, and through that, I understand the Auckland Council had a legal opinion that says it has to stay on the LIM report. So what effects has that had? In some instances, people have bought a property, post-remediation; therefore, it’s come off the LIM report and then when they’ve gone to sell that property, the new people looking to buy have actually got a LIM report, and it’s on there.

So, you know, imagine being the owner of that property.You bought it, not knowing there was a problem. Before you actually bought the property, the Council were notified there was an issue, but their policy meant it came off the LIM report, so it’s a little bit strange, some of the stuff that’s gone on, that’s for sure.

So getting it on the LIM report, it’s really up to the police, is it, to hand it over to the Council?meth recovery

Miles Stratford: Primarily, yeah. I think that as awareness around the issue has grown, more and more buyers have been getting the testing done. Some of those buyers, where they have been unhappy with the performance, as far as the agent is concerned or the vendor, have reported it through to the territorial authorities and provided copies of reports through to the territorial authorities, because they have concerns for public health. But primarily, the route to getting onto the LIM report is through the police involvement.

 

There are a million plus properties in New Zealand, what are the chances of me buying a property that was once a P-lab?

Miles Stratford: It may sound like a grand statement up front, but 40% of the properties that we’ve tested have had meth in. And that is a fact. It’s more than 40%. Does that mean that 40% of the properties in New Zealand have meth in them? No. I don’t really know what the number is going to be, but from a prospective purchaser’s perspective, there are some risk factors to take into account. So 75% of the labs that the police find, for example, have got an investment property history.

So if it’s got an investment property history, there is a higher risk. The potential purchasers can pop around and have a chat to the neighbours, that won’t cost them anything. Find out what they know about the history of the place. Bearing in mind that if the neighbours are really good friends with the people who lived there previously, and everybody was involved with meth, they don’t like to say too much against them.
So it’s part of the due diligence process you’ve got to go through.

 

Getting a house tested for meth use is really an insurance policy for potential buyers isn’t it?

Miles Stratford: Well, it’s certainly insurance. I have lots of conversations with people who bought problems,in those instances, it’s devastating. Often people will stretch themselves financially to get into a property, which means there’s limited cash reserves available. Then they find out that there is a problem with the property, and they don’t have the money to fix it.

So if they don’t have the money to fix it, they might think, “Well, let’s go to the bank and get some money off the bank.” The problem is that a property that’s got a meth history or a significant meth problem isn’t typically worth as much as the bank gives you on it. So often people would find themselves in a situation where the bank actually asks for more money, as opposed to handing out money to get the thing fixed up.

So you really do need to find out beforehand. If it’s an investment property, and somebody’s buying it as a prospective investment property, it makes absolute sense to get it tested, because actually, you’ll be able to rent the property out for more, because you can market it as definitely not having a meth problem. With the growing awareness that’s out there in the community it means that people are prepared to pay more.

Do landlords understand that testing for meth is to their benefit?

Miles Stratford: Oh, we’ve got landlords who are actively doing it. And we’ve got, for example, up in Auckland, the approach that we talk about is meth management, and ultimately, that’s where MethSolutions wants to get to is focusing its effort on preventing problems from happening, rather than what we’re doing at the moment which is just detecting the ones which have occurred. So meth management is a combination of ongoing testing for use and monitoring for manufacture, instead of getting $300 a week, they’re getting $315.

Not everybody’s bought into that yet, and it’s obviously looking at life a little bit differently, but you know, we have got some evidence that it can be achieved, as long as people commit to the process.

Find Out What To Do If You Suspect A P-Lab as well as How Much Testing Costs – Part Three Meth Solutions Interview


Meth Testing: What You Need To Know

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An Interview With Miles Stratford From Meth Solutions – Click below To Listen.

Introduction To Meth Solutions

We set up Meth Solutions in October 2012, we have sampled nearly 1400 properties around the country and over 40% of those had meth in them. So for anybody who’s looking for a house, meth risk and residues is one of those things that is a very quick route to undoing wealth and value, and it’s the sort of thing that you need to be aware of before you go unconditional on a property, not after.

So why is meth in property such a problem these days?

Miles Stratford: It’s a number of reasons. I mean the principle reason why meth in property is a problem is down to health. Even use-related residues of meth can produce adverse health effects. If a lab is located in a property, those health effects can be very profound and long-term. What seems to happen with meth residues in a property is that chemicals that are associated with manufacture, in particular, will catalyse problems and complications with the central nervous system, breathing issues, and cancer is accelerated within people.
It gets put down to all sorts of things before people get down to meth residues.
It is a hidden issue, so more often than not, you don’t actually see any outward sign of there being a problem with the property.
Unless the police have been involved, the likelihood it would have been noted on a LIM report is very, very remote.
So a standard due diligence process that doesn’t include some provision for meth testing is highly unlikely to pick it up.

What are the long-term effects if someone does end up buying a property that’s been a P-lab?methamphetamine

Miles Stratford: The principal issue is their health, and the impact and the adverse impacts that it can have on health. Because it has that potential to impact on health, if you want to get a property back into a habitable state, then you’ve got to spend a lot of money doing that.
So you could be looking at a cleanup and decontamination bill that’s somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000, as a standard refit out, same sort of money again, and then quite a lot of money on the testing either side.
The actual cost if you buy a problem are significant.

You then have got the ongoing issue that you’ve got a property that’s had a meth history.
If you paid market rate for a property that’s got a meth history, on the assumption that you’re going to do the right thing and disclose it when you come to sell it, and again, lots of people don’t, then the ongoing stigma means you’ve got a compromised sell value.
If you pay the right price for it at the time you purchased it, so it reflects the meth history, then your appreciation will still be relevant. But if you pay market rate for it, then you find you’ve got a problem, then you may find that you’re actually going backwards. It’s a long way before you start going forwards, financially.

Are there any easy ways to pick whether a house has been a P-lab or not?

Miles Stratford: As self-serving as it may seem, the easiest thing to do to try to pick it up is to get a test done. We can talk economics at some stage if you want to, but often people think that’s hundreds of hundreds of dollars, and it doesn’t have to be. Now the reason I say that’s the easiest way of doing it because often that’s the way the police pick it up.

Police, when they go and raid a property, will observe it for some considerable period of time, and they’ll kick the door down, because they know there’s something going on within it. And therefore they find the evidence that’s associated with the manufacture process.
More often than not, when the property is up for sale, for example, or when it’s being tenanted, property manager’s under the Residential Tenancies Act, they give the tenants 48 hours’ notice to access the property.

It’s the same process when a property is up for sale and as a consequence, the evidence tends to get cleared away. In many instances, the evidence is masked by a coat of paint or an extensive cleaning job has gone on. So the obvious tell-tale signs that might be associated with a historic meth issue are more often than not gone.

Are P Lab houses listed on a LIM Report Click here to find out – Meth Solutions Interview Part Two

 


Who are the HABiT home and building inspection team Dunedin?

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Do you do LIM reports?

Yes we look over LIM reports if it is requested. We don’t do them as a matter of course, we only do that if it is requested. There is an additional cost involved in that as it is liaising with lawyers and councils so yes there is more time involved.
A LIM is a Land Investigation Memorandum, it documents all aspects of the dwelling including the section. It looks at the stability of the land and gives a bit of history as to whats gone on in the past. It should include building consents and building permits that have been issued for that dwelling. It can look at surrounding dwelling or neighbouring dwellings. Sometimes what is planned for that area.

What are the benefits of a vendor getting a building report done?

A lot of people get a pre-purchase inspection done but I am getting a few agents that are getting a pre sale inspection done. It gives the vendor an idea on how to help sell their house and what problems they have with the dwelling so the sale goes through a lot smoother.They can choose to address the problems before it goes to market so there are no surprises along the way.
Also they know what the real remedial cost is, if it is work that needs doing. It gives them the opportunity if they aren’t going to fix it to get a quote. So when it comes to negotiations they have a quote saying the roof will need $3000 spent on it.
A potential buyer could come along with a builder friend and they may say hey that roof is going to cost $8000. It gives them the chance to find out what the true costs of remedial work will be rather than some fictitious price.The sale goes through a lot quicker, often you get to the last day of due diligence and they might get their report the day before or 2 days before and there is some problem that pops up that both parties weren’t aware of. Sometimes the vendor is just as unaware as the purchaser so sometimes its a surprise to all parties including the agent. Often that sale is slowed up a lot by having to get prices to do remedial repairs. It may put off the purchaser if they weren’t aware of it, they may think hey what else could be wrong with this property.Dunedin1

5 top maintenance areas

1.Clearing out gutters and drains to stop them overflowing.

2.Carry out minor repairs before they become major repairs.

3.Keep up a good coat of paint to timber cladding,window frames,sills and trims before the paint deteriorates.A lot of the time that leads to rot which is quite a costly fix. You know the joe average handyman could have gotten out there with a bit of sandpaper and sand it up, prepped it and painted it and saved that rot. Where as when the sills rots its quite possibly a complete replacement of the window.
If you are handy enough checking roofs and just making sure that everything is secure, make sure your flashings are secure.A lot of nails will work out of place with flashings, corrugated claddings etc and then water starts tracking down and this will damage the ceiling linings.
4.Check your sub floor and ceiling space areas to make sure that there is no leaking plumbing or roof leaks they you may have missed with an external check. Sometimes especially the plumbing underneath the floor can leak for quite sometime without you being aware of it. If it goes unnoticed for too long you will soon get rot in the floor joists, the underside of flooring and the timber bearers and it can become quite costly to fix.
5.Another maintenance area which I see it quite a lot is when people top up their gardens with bark etc and they cover up the vents to the subfloor area. If you cover up the bottom weatherboards right up against the cladding you are getting moisture right up against the house. If you have covered up the vents then the subfloor area won’t be getting air and if you have a damp subfloor area then you get the moisture dew forming on the subfloor timbers which will cause deterioration and rot. Its fairly common sense, the vents have been put there for a reason, don’t cover them up.

We are more than happy to go out and do maintenance reports as well, like the condensed version of a building report and just project a bit of a maintenance plan for people. This does have an extra cost. The report its self as well as picking up the significant faults, does become a bit of a maintenance plan anyway. It will identify areas like the soffits and fascia and windows to watch for. They may not necessarily go back to renegotiate for those but you would certainly use it as a bit of a prompt to do some maintenance work after purchase.

If things are maintained, paints kept on windows and fascia etc the house looks tidier for a start. You would certainly sell it quicker, it would be more appealing. You may command a little bit more money but I guess it depends on the area and the situation the house is in.

Describe the houses in Dunedin.

We are lucky in Dunedin as we have such a wide range of housing. We have got some beautiful old homes in Dunedin. I guess when you are looking make sure that the house has been well maintained, keep an eye out for that. Different things to look for in different areas I guess. There are a few subdivisions opened up in Taieri and over the hospital way so there are plenty of new builds going on. A lot of franchise groups are getting those builds.
A lot of investors are building and renting new places so they are building a new place rather than buying an older place. A lot of investors are getting rid of houses that are starting to need a lot of work, piles etc. They are getting rid of their old stock and upgrading.
We have got a lot of out of town people buying at the moment. If you are looking at the university market it is critical to get an inspection as some of those houses need a lot of work. They are hard to inspect!

What do you love about being a building inspector?

I guess its fairly rewarding being able to help out somebody during the major purchase of their lifetime and steering them in the right direction. Making sure that they aren’t buying a dud so to speak. That is rewarding and it is evident from the comments we get back from people. They may go through with the purchase of the property but we may have picked up on something the roof for example, a clay tile roof and we have saved them 6 or 7 thousand dollars or a complete replacement of a roof which could be $15,000, $18,000 so for them they are pretty over the moon.

 

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Who are The Home & Building Inspection Team Gisborne?

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Gisborne1

What do people need to look out for when looking for a new home?

Style, positioning on the section,sun. You know once you have a good base for your house and a decent sunny dry place not in a hollow somewhere then you can pretty much do anything you like in the way of maintenance on the house. Those things are pretty important.Then you go on to look at the cladding of the house, the roof and the foundations but if you are on a nice high dry site  and you have the space then you can work on anything else really. You don’t want to be stuck in a hole somewhere.

Get a decent team around you, a building inspector,valuer and solicitor and get some decent advice and to be open and actually listen to people. Quite often over the years you are talking to someone and you can see them shutting down and not listening as they don’t want to hear what you have to say. After a few years often they come back to you and say, oh I wish we had listened to you.

I know when I first started doing home and building inspections there was a grumble that I was being to picky but they now realise the reports are just a factual report, they are backed up with pictures. The reports are just purely factually and have nothing to do with whether I like a home or not, or don’t like the area. They have all come to terms with that now.

What maintenance areas do you think are most important when looking after a house?

Make sure all the ground water is away from the home especially some of the older homes and also away from your foundations. You need to maintain your roof and your wooden joinery,your cladding and probably your plumbing and electrical and make sure everything is up to scratch. I think these are the top ones really, once you have those sorted your house is going to be in pretty good nick.

Describe Gisborne as a place to live.

Well Gisborne is just a great place to live, when you come home from one of our big cities you realise the benefits of living in a great little town like this. We have everything we need here. We are a coastal city with a wonderful climate and I would encourage anyone to come and live here. We have a good variety of housing, rural if you want , 5 minutes out of town you could have a lovely lifestyle block with a lovely home on it, or the coast here, or the inner city. We’ve actually got it all here, its a great little city. Its quite spread out because people can still have a good size section. You look at the property press for Auckland and a section of 450 sqm and you think my goodness that is tiny. Your standard section in Gisborne would be a 1000 odd sqm and bigger.

Is there anything that you have seen in Gisborne that could be a potential problem similar to leaky homes?

We don’t have a lot of leaky homes in Gisborne, there are about 5 homes in the area that I know of that are leaky homes, that style of home didn’t really take off here, we are more conventional. I don’t see any one great issue here like that. You know as you drive through different parts of the country, as a builder and inspector you are driving past thinking my goodness I hope I don’t have to inspect one of those houses. We have a lot of old stock(houses) so we have a variety of things but no one great problem like the leaky homes.

What do you love about being a building inspector?

Oh I think its just helping people isn’t it. Its interesting what people don’t see, I’m a bit blown away. I pulled up to a site a couple of weeks ago and as I pulled up I thought oh it needs a bit of work on the front porch and a bit of this and a bit of that. I went through the house with the client and he said you know I never even saw that and I walked over it. Well I saw those things as I pulled up.You’ve got a mountain of knowledge and you don’t realise how much knowledge you have after 40 odd years of building until you stop and talk to people and offer your advice. Its pretty satisfying.

 

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Who are HABiT Home and Building Tauranga?

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Tauranga2

How do you deal with the leaky homes?

Well it is a touchy subject and unfortunately there is an unknown or a stigma about it which you can’t really put a price on but there is a price to pay. Unfortunately this is affected through the media and through maybe our education. It has affected all sorts of cladding including plaster cladding. It could be polystyrene on a cavity, it could be plaster over brick. Some people just won’t go near it. A lot of people see a plastered house and won’t go near it but if they know what it is made of and its all good then it just helps get one step closer.
It is a touchy subject.
Maintenance, maintenance,maintenance is the key with monolithic cladding. Its a tough one. It comes down to the right people taking them on. I wouldn’t condemn any house but the client need to know the risks, they need to know what they are buying. Its a horrible situation and its been caused by a whole lot of reasons and you can’t point the finger at any one person or anyone thing and we just have to deal with it.

Are you able to provide solutions?

Oh yes definitely, if we are concerned the only way to be really clear is to get invasive investigation, that’s not even a 100% thing. People drill holes and they can check the condition of the timber they can get an accurate moisture reading. We also do a moisture reading on the outside of the cladding which is non evasive but it certainly gives us a picture and an idea of whether its worth doing evasive investigation or not. Then we have people we can recommend, guys that re-plaster it or do repair work. These guys do it all the time, that’s all they concentrate on as its such a big market out there and they have learn a lot and they are experienced as well.

You obviously have good contacts in other industries?

A lot of these guys we have used ourselves and they specialise in the areas that need addressing. We have roofers and builders, we don’t have any ties with them, they aren’t part of us but they are part of our team. If a client doesn’t know anyone, coming new into the area then they need some help with who they can trust. It is no benefit to us to recommend anyone but it is just a service we provide.

What advice you would give a new home buyer?

Basic things I suppose that they don’t think of like where is the sun facing. Tick all your boxes.
Is it the right price? Have you done all your homework? Do you need a valuation? Is it the type of house that may have had p used in it? Do you need to test for that as that is another big cost that people don’t alway think about. It can ruin a house if it has been a p lab. We have people that we can use to test for this and it may be something we look at doing ourselves in the future as well.
Unfortunately it is becoming a more prolific thing in New Zealand.
Its shame I guess its like anything, like the building inspection thing, like what do you have an alarm for, to put someone off from burgling your house, its an insurance thing.
Check all the council papers. Is it legal, did it get signed off?
That’s another service we offer, we do council file checks, for a small cost really its a good thing to clear up before you purchase it.

Do you do LIM reports?

No we don’t do LIM reports as they are somethings that your lawyer can organise or the council do themselves. The LIM report is a Land Information Memorandum and that got what is passed on file, it has more information on the land. The counter file is what we do, the property file check and we grabbed the council information which we go through and we write a report on what information the council have on that. We can see the plans, if there are any and we can note down that Joe Bloggs decided to take a wall down which was a structural wall, where the LIM report won’t show you that. It will tell you what has been permitted but not what hasn’t been. It is important and it also helps us with for example with plastering as to what type it is. It helps us with the construction of it, it may be able to give us an indication as to whether treated timber has been used and to be able to back up what we saw on site.Making sure that the house matches the plans. If there is anything out of whack then like work done without a permit then its is going to back fire on you when you come to sell later on.

Can you get retrospective consent?

Yes but that does depends on the council. Like the Tauranga City Council, they recognise it, Western Bay Council don’t necessarily recognise it.  With the older houses you can get what is called a safe and sanitary or a Certificate of Acceptance depending on the age which really is a basic report saying yes the council will accept it as it is so they aren’t going to give you hassle and say hey you have to do this and that. Its not as detailed as our reports but its a basic report that the council give saying its not an unsafe or unsanitary place to live. It’s about as legal as you can get. The newer houses they can sign it off, it may just be the one last inspection they didn’t get signed off and they can come in and check it and sign it off.

What are the great things about living in Tauranga?

Where ever you go you are by the beach. You have got different types of houses, all sorts of different houses. We have the cheaper houses, the flasher houses, you can be by the beach or in town, lots of different suburbs. A great community place to live in I reckon.
Its just the place to be.
At one stage it was the fastest growing city in New Zealand. I think probably unfortunately it was near the leaky building era. We have learnt a lot since then.
One thing I do like about the area is the variety of houses, its not like Coronation Street or anything like that. Everyone is coming here to retire so it’s the lifestyle so it’s pretty cool.
Work and live the dream at the same time.

What do you love about being a building inspector?

Well compared to building I suppose the simplicity of it. My staff aren’t losing my tools every week which is a bonus and I haven’t got all the tools. All I carry now is my tool belt and ladder, its just so easy.
Pretty much every day I’m getting positive feedback. I guess it’s all my experience that you feel is untapped or hasn’t been used in the past or has gone unappreciated if you like. Now it seems to be getting appreciated. The knowledge and experience I have had is getting put to good use and also the work I do with people. Helping people in one of the biggest financial and emotional decisions of their life, its a big deal. The satisfaction of helping people ease through that process and just making it as easy as possible and as fruitful as possible.
All the hard years that I have done are coming to good use and I can share it. Before I was building houses and giving an end product now I can share my knowledge and everyone gets to have some of it.

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Who are HABiT Home and Building Inspectors Tauranga?

by admin

Tauranga1

Do you weigh up customers before you give them a solution?

I just had a call from a client just before this interview and I explained to him that the particular house he was buying, you would have to be a certain type of person, some people wouldn’t be able to sleep at night.
For example I am a builder and we bought a rental recently and its a leaky building, we know that. Its something that we bought for the right price and we are willing to take that risk. But someone else you want to make sure that they know what they are getting and its up to them and their situation and capabilities. Are they going to maintain it? If they aren’t going to maintain anything or they haven’t got the knowledge or they are scared of getting ripped off by some builder who is going to do the maintenance for them, then perhaps they should buy another house.

I don’t tell anyone not to buy or buy, its just I tell them what is in store for them and make sure they are the right person for that house.

Why should people use a building inspector?
-Knowledge
-What am I buying?
-How do I maintain it?
-Does it leak?
-Is it structurally sound?
-Is there anything wrong? What needs repair? or What needs replacing and when?
You can save heaps of money in the long run by spending money at the start. Its your biggest investment so why not.
Now what I see in nearly every house you would be silly not to get one. Even a builder you don’t have the moisture readers necessarily, you haven’t got that take on things.
For example we did a new house it was lived in for about a year, worth about a million. On the roof there was a valley flashing missing.A valley flashing, is where all the water goes into the valley and its directed into the gutter. There was only paper stopping this water coming in. It had maybe slipped down and taken off, I couldn’t find it. One wet day they would have been sitting in their lounge and their ceiling would have just caved in. That was the type of house you would have looked at and thought, oh that house doesn’t need a building inspection but hey that one did.

Also when you are selling a house you either just sell the house and someone else gets a building inspector in who says this is wrong and the intended purchaser get all scared and run away. Or as a vendor you get a building inspector in and then you know what is wrong if anything. Then you know that you can either fix it up or allow for that in your price and you reveal that at the time so that no-one is going to beat you down because you have already told them everything that you know. If they find something that you didn’t know then they are going to take some money off.

You are better off getting realistic now and its not a big panic. A lot of people are nervous when they are buying a house, if things aren’t relayed properly by an inspector they are going to freak out so its best to do it calmly and all out on the table so they know what they are buying.

Right from the start you are at the head of the game.

5 areas that should be maintained

1.The roof and gutters, the gutters are a big one. Autumn is a big one, the number of tennis balls I have found that are blocking the down pipe, they fit perfectly in a down pipe.
2.The roof as well, there are the concrete tiles, the cracking in the mortar, flashings, there is the metal ridge capping, they can move and the rivets can pop.
3.The cladding of course especially if it is monolithic, any cracks in that, that should be checked regularly. Gardening’s growing up next to cladding and against cladding.
4.Window joinery inside and out, making sure it closes properly and if its timber joinery the paint needs to be looked after. Condensation what are you going to do to sort that out.
5.You just take for granted that the gas and the fireplaces are always going to be good but they do need maintenance and your hot water cylinder. Not regular as such but they do need checking.

Do you provide a maintenance programme?

Yes especially we recommend it for monolithic cladding, well it can be done for any house.
If you have bought a house and you own it for 10 years or so and you may have maintained it well and check it but no one knows about that. If you have the skills to do that. If you don’t have the skills or you don’t know what you are looking for then we can come in and say once a year, we recommend in the middle of winter when we can check the moisture readings, and check the cladding and write a report on that every year. Its just a part report we call it a Moisture and Cladding check, so the cost is down.

That gives you like a warrant of fitness check, so if someone comes to buy this place then you have had a warrant fitness check every year, either there has been something wrong and it has been fixed up straight away and you know its been checked regularly or it hasn’t needed a lot of work and you know it been good all those years and it hasn’t just been painted the week before you are selling it to cover up everything that was dodgy in it. It give people piece of mind and with monolithic cladding that is a huge benefit I think and definitely worth protecting your investment I think. It is going to add value to your house.

What you need to know about leaky homes

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Who are the HABiT home and building inspection team in Hamilton?

by admin

Hamilton1

 

What are the benefits of vendors doing a presale inspection?

We have done quite a lot of these. The benefits of these are the vendors can make sure they have got a house that is well presented and in good condition or the best condition they can have it in for their sale. A lot of people want to know what the issues are so that they can get them explored. It is very important these days both for people selling houses and real estate agents as its part of the legal document, that they are upfront so it is a really good idea. It will help them sell the house guaranteed.
It is going to give you a relative starting point if there are any issues and what is required to fix them but then again you could get a really good report and what a great way to sell a house knowing that you have had the warrant of fitness done and that your house is in a good condition and ready to be sold.

Any advice for new home buyers?

Having a code of compliance and getting a HABiT building inspection. We have had a couple of homes where we have gone up onto the roof that has had new cladding and we have found that council inspector haven’t actually been up on to the roof. We have had cladding missing and things like that. So a code of compliance is really important.
Making sure the house has been built by a tradesman and not by say the fireman down the road.
It is really important to make sure they have been built by Master builders preferably so you can get the guarantees that go with it. Get the house checked off with a well proven system so that you know you are getting a house for the long term not just the short term.
Records are available down at the council as its all public knowledge so you are able to check who built your house.The council should have all the licenced practitioners on record so you can check that they are master builders and qualified.
Councils do the LIM reports which we check over. It is definitely advisable to get a PIM report and a LIM report done before you buy a house. A LIM report will show any issues with the site.
LIM is the Land Information Memorandum which give any information on the particular site i.e. any sewage drains or easements going through. The PIM is Project Information which is the building itself and issues that have arisen during that project. It is a good bit of information to get but it does take a week or two to get from the council.We are happy to read those reports and find any information that needs to be highlighted. We recommend the clients get those themselves from lawyers.

5 main areas that need to be maintained when looking after a home.

1.The roof and gutters are important and need to be cleaned out and well looked after. It is the umbrella over your house, it will protect your investment in the long term.
2.Making sure your cladding and fascias have been cleaned at least once a year, this is very important and will make your paint last a lot longer. Not only will it look good but it will extend the warranty on your paintwork.

It is quite important to put a maintenance programme in place as it is good to be aware of when things will be coming up e.g. when your house will need painting again. This is a great way to maintain your investment.
3.Checking windows and making sure that all the drain holes are unblocked,there is nothing worse than the water building up and leaking over your sills.
4.To keep a healthy home you need to open it all up and keep it nice and clean. Those new homes are so well sealed that its nice to open the doors and windows and let the house breath a little bit.
5.In the showers and wet areas keep a constant visual eye as showers are one of the areas that can let you down in the long or short term. So look out for any moisture that could be coming out of the shower doors, making sure that any water is draining away. It could just be the easy clear waste that is blocked so its just making sure that you have those wastes clear. Occasionally look under the shelf in your vanity to check for leaks. Make sure you wash tiles down and check for cracks. Let the bathroom breath. We always suggest putting a fan in to get rid of any moisture as you shower or take baths.

What do you love about being an inspector?

It is such a satisfying job we are able to help people purchase their new home and its really nice to make them aware of any issues good or bad. We have had several instances of where we have saved people thousands of dollars putting them off purchases and they have bought us gifts and things like that. Part of it is yes helping them into their nice new home, making sure they have a good home for the long term, the other part is trying to save them money by recognising the issues. Our HABiT format provides us with something that we are able to go through a house and check from top to bottom and give our clients confidence when making the biggest investment of their life.

Contact HABiT Hamilton now


Who are the home and building inspection team Nelson?…

by admin

Nelson1

Do you do any other type of inspections?

New homes for private purchase but not building companies. I do bigger homes,home stays and bed and breakfasts. Recently I did  2 rest homes in Greymouth so any type of domestic building used for living .I have even had a request for an inspection at a property which has 10 flats which was built in the early 1900’s so it goes from the early 1900’s right up to new homes and I have also done a little bit on some commercial buildings. A little bit of everything really.

 

What people need to look out for when beginning the buying process?

I think the biggest thing on people’s minds is it a leaky house and people see plaster systems and plasters houses and classify it as a leaky house but that’s not necessarily true. If it has big soffits it okay you are well covered. What makes a leaky house is where parapets have the wrong flashings on top. Plaster houses with soffits are okay and there are some great painting systems to repair remedial cracks. You will want to know whether it is monolithic cladding or whether is it on a cavity system so it just depends. A lot of people are concerned about the cladding of a house. The houses I find around here are all okay, they just need to be well maintained and looked after, like a car If you look after it you will get a lot more usage.In 12 months I have only come across 2 that I would have been weary of that were leaky houses and so that is 2 out of 250 inspection to date. Monolithic cladded houses can potentially be leaky homes but we are lucky we don’t have the weather conditions in Nelson like some other parts of the country

 

Do you do see many P houses?

I do try and add them into my tests rather than just going and doing them. I do have the  capability to be doing them which is through meth solutions in Auckland. We go out and we do the sample swabs, send them to the lab and we get the results quite promptly. They have a website www.methsolutions.co.nz and there are a few others in the area that do them as well. It is becoming quite a common thing you probably seen a bit in the news lately. They only need a small area so can be pretty hard to spot.

 

Top five areas that people can or should be looking out for when maintaining a house.

-I would be having a look at the roof and making sure it has a good coat of paint on it with a good pitch so that the water is falling away easily.

-Check the spouting to make sure its not blocked and not running over into the soffits or eves.

-If the house is clad with timber I would be looking for rot around the windowsill areas and all corners on weather board houses.

-Plaster houses check for remedial cracking as it is quite common around the window areas above and below the window areas. If you’ve got one wall with crazy cracking on it there might be more going on so get that checked.

-Just checking all doors and windows inside to make sure that they don’t need easing and are all working freely and there has been no movement or subsidence.

 

Any advice for a new home buyer?

Get a building inspection of courses it just make sense now.If you don’t have experience in the building game and your not sure in terms of what you are spending, its peace of mind. With the price of a building inspection its well worth getting one. The other point with HABiT is that we are fully insured with indemnity insurance. You hear agents talking about inspectors not being insured but we are fully insured with indemnity insurance which is peace of mind for a lot of people.

 

What are the main concerns potential buyers or sellers have when it comes to getting a builders report?

They are most worried about the cladding and with a lack of knowledge base that is the biggest concern. Once they have an inspector from Habit around they will get peace of mind on cladding and how most problems can easily be fixed. Leaks are another concern, sometimes we see the odd shower leaking or plumbing issues underneath the house which the client has been unaware of . You find some vendors that want reports done who have this monolithic cladding and are unsure of it and want some advice in the right areas. I say keep it well maintained and looked after.

 

Great things about living in Nelson or about the housing Nelson?

The weather is great in Nelson put it that way. Its a great atmosphere in Nelson, I’m really enjoying it and you do get a variety of houses here. You never know where you are going next when you out and about and we have lovely countryside as well. Number one for sunshine days in New Zealand.

 

Best thing about being a building inspector?

It’s a different mind set to being on the tools after many years and it nice to be in a service that is actually helping others and using my knowledge base, that I really enjoy. I enjoy people and I have people skills as well so I am really enjoying getting out and about and making people comfortable with what that are buying or what they are selling. We were always told that when we finished our building apprenticeship it was our licence to start learning. So I have had a lot of years learning and I think as a builder your building eye never turns off.You are always going to someones house for a cup of coffee or something and you are always looking at things, you never stop looking.

Find out why you should use a professional building inspector in Nelson