Archive for the ‘articles’ Category

Meth Solutions Interview Part Two

by admin


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

by admin

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


5 Key Elements To Understanding Retaining Walls

by admin

2000 Years Of Retaining Walls

There are many different types of retaining walls, in which many will suit the type, height and materials based on design preferences and the type of ground that should be retained.

They can be built from a number of different materials like: stone, brick, block, steel, timber and more and it will often be the site that dictates what type of materials are to used.

There purpose is to retain the any lateral forces of dirt, water or other materials.

Retaining walls date back to the old roman times and since then have improved over time with different design and materials.

They have their practical uses, but are also a great choice to tidy up your section and can definitely improve the value of your home.

Retaining walls can turn a steep slope into a beautifully terraced back yard, creating a stepped style look.

They are usually back-filled with different gradients of material added for more durability and usually have proper drainage at the base of the wall.

Don’t Take Shortcuts With Retaining Walls

It’s important to note that the types of back fill material will play a large part in the success of a retaining walls life. If cheap or insufficient materials are purchased or even neglecting below grade elements, will end up costing more later on. If the base foundations start eroding and cause damage to nearby structures the cost to repair or replace a retaining wall can end up being far expensive than the initial cost of building the wall. So don’t take shortcuts is the message here.

You’ll see a lot of block retaining walls under the house on steep sections, as well as around the section. Block walls are normally for heavy duty retaining.

If we start by understanding what types of retaining walls there are and why they exist, it will give you a better understanding. You can use your judgement and common sense to figure if a retaining wall is either illegal, it’s purpose is for aesthetics … or is just there for practical reasons.


What Types Of Retaining Walls Are There?

There are only two principal types of retaining walls that exist, which are: 1. Cantilevered and … 2.  Gravity Walls.

Cantilevered walls are normally tied into a solid base, which provides strength

…and Gravity walls use their own weight to resist pressure from the soil behind them.

1. Cantilevered Walls

If you’re not sure what cantilever means; it’s a beam of any sort that’s anchored at one end to support a load and will usually come in the form of T shape or an L shape

Cantilever walls are for stabilisation either on a wide ‘T’ or ‘L’ shaped footing or vertical poles deeply concreted into the ground. They’re normally tied into a solid base, which provide the strength need to retain the earth.

Here are a couple of good example of cantilever effect!





2. Gravity Walls

Gravity walls describe exactly what they do – They are constructed of materials that are heavy enough to resist the forward pressure from the earth behind it, but are very limited to height due to the nature of the wall and materials. `
Some of the typical materials that can be used would be block and stone, or masonry,  which are the heavier materials used to weigh down on itself. It will be mostly slanted backwards, with most of the weight and thickness being at the bottom for stability and performance.


Image provided by BRANZ

Do I Need Council Consent For a Retaining Wall?


The Building Act 2004 Schedule 1 tells us that any construction of a retaining wall that is under the height of 1.5m high does not require a building consent as long as there is no surcharge (see left side example of 1st image above) or other load on top of the load of the ground it is trying to retain.

Regardless of whether the wall needs a consent or not it still must comply with the The NZ Building code, which says in really broad terms, that it must be constructed and designed in a way that will withstand normal pressures that it has been designed for as well as any further construction or alteration, throughout it’s lifetime.

If retaining walls do need council consent, they need to be designed by a registered engineer.

Common Terminology

5 Key Takeaways


    1. 1. Retaining walls have been around since the dark ages


    1. 2. They have improved over time with materials and design


    1. 3. There are two main types of retaining walls: Gravity walls and Cantilever walls – Gravity walls anchor themselves with heavy duty materials and gravity. Canitlever walls are fixed at one end in usually an L & T shape.


    1. 4. You need a council consent if the wall is over 1.5m and must be designed by a registered engineer.


  1. 5. If the wall is under 1.5m You need a consent, if there is any surcharge or other weight bearing load on top of the retaining wall








Scrim & Sarking: 5 Things You Need To Know

by admin

Scrim & Sarking: One of the most problematic types of wall linings in New Zealand and Australian homes.

I remember my time in real estate and the word scrim & sarking came out on caravan.

I’d only been in the game for about 6 months and it was an old army house we were in. We were trying to discover what the wall linings were when one of the more experienced agents said it was probably scrim & sarking.

I remember having to come up with some sort of image in my head because I had no idea what it was … or what it looked like, so I likened it to pretty much what it sounded like … and to me, it was some sort of exotic asian dish!

Yeah … go figure!

Well it’s now back on top of the popularity stakes, especially with owners and insurance companies. It’s because it’s such a fire risk and most insurance companies won’t insure it – they hate it!

Read on to find out some of our solutions

Oh… and don’t forget to look out for our tip on how to interpret builders talk, it could save you thousands!!

What Is Scrim & Sarking?

Scrim in the oxford dictionary is described as:
An open-weave muslin or hessian jute style fabric, which looks like sacking material, used in upholstery, lining, building, and in the theatre to create the illusion of a solid wall or to suggest haziness.
Scrim became popular back in the 70′s when trendsetters started laying it straight on top of the wall linings.I remember it in our TV room, it was a red colour and it did have that sort of haziness they refer to.

Sarking is described as:
A timber or felt cladding placed over the rafters of a roof before the tiles or slates are fixed in place
The word or more so the term, has been extended out to include the popular term as “Scrim & Sarking” It was used to describe the material and the method of internal construction.

It was widely used throughout the 19th & 20th centuries before the invention of plasterboard. The method of application was made up of wooden panels, which were nailed over beams and joists of the house frame. The hessian fabric “Scrim” was then tacked on or stapled over the top. Wallpaper was then applied over top.

How To Detect Scrim & Sarking

1. Knock, Knock – Scrim actually feels like your knocking on wood (Hmm, funny that – Bloody Genius!) – An obvious sign for detecting scrim is when you knock along the wall, you’ll find it hard to distinguish where the studs are in the wall.
2. The floating wallpaper test – Scrim & Sarking is ‘finished’ by covering the Scrim with wallpaper (sometimes the wallpaper has since been painted). With age, the hessian Scrim starts coming away from the Sarking and gives the impression of floating, bulging or twisting wallpaper. This is especially obvious in room corners.

3. Close inspection – With close inspection you can sometimes see rough sawn board (Sarking) or hessian (Scrim) where wallpaper is loose or has come away, or the wallpaper will look ‘textured’ as the woven hessian fabric has imprinted the wallpaper from underneath.

Replacing Scrim & Sarking

You can certainly get rid of the scrim, and also the sarking … well the majority of it anyway, it can prove difficult though. If you do get rid of the sarking you’ll have to put in new dwangs between studs.

Costs Involved

Sarking can be removed, but most builders prefer to leave it in, which makes working with it still extremely difficult!

Imagine trying to stuff an open home flag into the back of your exhaust pipe. You could do it, but it would be pretty time-consuming and dirty work. The same goes for trying to insulate walls with sarking on it. Your supposed to line the exterior wall with building paper and putting insulation over top of that.

So you imagine a builder coming in and pricing that.

And here’s a really good tip: when a builder walks in and looks around the room – holds his chin with his hand – says “hmmm, okay … yeah, nah that’s sweet! – He’s really saying: “That’s a S*!#t load of faffing around, it’s gonna cost you thousands”

It depends on what you want to do, but anyway you’ll want to attack it by planning out what you want to do first and your decision is mostly going to be driven by budget. There are a couple of options:

1. Knowing it’s difficult to work with, you need to figure out if you’re going to make the most of having everything exposed. Like getting it insulated.

2. If you just want to take the scrim off and get the walls re-gibbed. This is the cheaper option.
Either way, it’s not going to be a small job. Your looking at new linings, and most likely architraves, scotia and skirting.

See what I mean?

So if you can afford to do it, it would pay to get insulation done at the same time! But again, just know, it’s a time consuming job, so it won’t be cheap!

What if you couldn’t afford to all of it now?
If you can’t afford to insulate with pink batts and lining, you can get a company in to blow insul-fluff into the walls, this can be a much cheaper option.

We’ll go into cost next time.

Sarking, Scrim & Insurance Companies

It’s a fire risk. insurance companies hate scrim & sarking. A recent article from an insurance broker explained why an insurance company had verbally agreed to insuring a 1905 villa, but upon getting the policy issued, it was declined, leaving the the purchaser, who had gone unconditional in a state of panic.
They were 1 month from settlement, but managed to get a senior underwriter to. It was a simple case of dealing with a younger and not so experienced person at the insurance company, just like you do at the bank. So beware!

Jute: is the glossy fiber of either of two Asian plants (Corchorus olitorius and C. capsularis) of the linden family used chiefly for sacking, burlap, and twine

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What You Need To Know About Asbestos Super Six

by admin

We got some great feedback from our Last Article Asbestos: Still A Hidden Killer 

So we’ll quickly take you through two areas and the things you need to know about asbestos in roofing and fences.

I read a recent real estate article on a decision by the Real Estate Authority of a Palmerston North woman who was ordered to repay expenses and attend a training course, after misrepresenting the possible presence of asbestos in a property she was selling.

Although the decision had nothing to do with not picking up the defect, it seemed like it was more of a communication issue. Either way, not knowing the exact details was the basis for the decision.

We’ve tried to explain this as best we can, so that you can get a really good idea on how you can approach the topic with confidence.


What Is Super Six?

If you’ve ever heard the term super six – It’s actually Hardies Super Six – which is made up of cement sheets combined with asbestos fibres. It was manufactured and sold by James Hardie and used for roofing and fencing.

Asbestos cement was ideal for corrugated roofing because it was easily moulded. It also happened to be cheap, easy to install, durable and conveniently fire resistant … and came with ridge and hip cappings:


Super Six Roofs

They’re pretty easy to identify, they don’t vary too much and look like the picture on the right.


Super 6 Corrugated asbestos sheets were commonly used up until the 1970s as a roofing material in both domestic and commercial buildings. To my knowledge there is no other corrugated cement sheet that doesn’t contain asbestos.

The unsealed sheets will shed fibre over time with age and weather. The fibres are generally washed out in rain water and accumulate in the gutter and other run off areas.

A few years ago they did research in Wellington on asbestos in rainwater collected from super 6 roofing and showed significant amounts contained in the runoff from rain water.

Here is where you should take note:

If the water run off goes directly into the ground instead of the stormwater drains; over time, it will result in significant contamination build up one the ground where it lands or the gutter … and will become airborne if disturbed by wind or cleaning/maintenance or removal work.

Also the moss and lichen ( see image) on asbestos sheets (roofing, cladding, guttering, exterior pipes) actually grow into the surface and weaken the cement sheet structure. And any of that moss or lichen that comes away from the asbestos material, may contain asbestos fibres in their root systems and should be treated as contaminated material. 
If the roofing cracks become brittle with age, rain water will leak into the building and if it contains asbestos, as it dries – again it has the potential to become airborne inside of the ceiling voids and roof trusses.


How to Tell The Difference Between Super Six and HardiFence

The fences to look out for are the ones that look just like the corrugated roofs, they’ve been in use for over 40 years and are from the same Super Six family. The product later became known as Hardifence, which is based on a far safer cellulose system.

Both of the products look dangerously the same and are quite difficult to determine the difference, if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

Which is exactly what this article if for.

Although this type of fencing is not common anymore, it’s still a good idea to know as much as you can about it.

James Hardie stopped producing the material over 1985 and replaced the Hardifence.
features of modern hardifence


The newest Hardifence version is easy to recognise, as it has 5 ridges and most definitely does not have asbestos in it.

The Super 6 asbestos fences have 7 ridges – but just be aware that the older versions of Hardifence without asbestos used to have 7 ridges also.


Early profile hardifence has the same profile as super six(asbestos) with 7 ridges

The early units of Hardifence were prone to break and cracked quite often from the bottom. They were also prone to break around the diamond washer and nut.

Early style hardifence is prone to breakage around the fixing

They soon improved this problem by creating deeper corrugations and got rid of the washer, nut and bolt and put a lot of emphasis into the metal capping to keep the sheets from separating.

Metal capping on hardifence and asbestos capping on super six


If it has fibre cement capping, then it is most likely going to be asbestos.

But if it has a metal capping then it’s most likely going to be Hardifence, which doesn’t contain asbestos.


Asbestos cartoon


Asbestos Still A Hidden Killer

by Peter Duncan

Asbestos never really meant anything to me until I had children.

It was only a term I’d heard and knew very little about.

It was when we were renovating a house in Berhampore that it really hit home. We had decided to scrap the ceiling in the living room and my wife was a few months pregnant. It was one of those old ornate,1950′s style ceilings with patterns, which to me looked like normal stipple coat.

We were covered from head to toe in the resulting dust and flakes!

After scrapping about a third of it off, my brother-in-law, who lived around the corner, came over to see how we were progressing – I think he was a bit parched!

Anyway he picked up a piece and said the dreaded A word!

Neither of us hadn’t really encountered asbestos before, so we started panicking a bit. 

We decided to get it tested and they sent it out to a laboratory in Upper Hutt. It came back negative luckily. 

So, we got pretty lucky really and because of our indifferent approach or might I say ignorant approach, we put a lot of people at risk. 

What Is Asbestos?

It’s actually a group of minerals if we want to be exact, that are made up of lots of small fibres. They are resistant to fire, chemicals and heat.

Because of the strong retardant properties they became a popular choice for building materials such as:

1. Cladding and roofing
2. Textured ceilings and wall surfaces that were sprayed on
3. Thermal protection for backing boards around fireplaces
4. Drainage spouting
5. Insulation around heaters, hot water cylinders and pipes
6. Different types of textiles

Incidentally it was also used for oven gloves, ironing board pads, simmer mats for stoves etc

So it was pretty handy for a while eh?

Mining of asbestos started around 4000 years ago and became popular with manufacturers in the late 19th century.

Toxicity – In the early 1900s researchers began to notice a large number of early deaths and lung problems in asbestos mining towns

If we want to get a tiny bit technical it’s made up of 6 different naturally occurring minerals, which we won’t go into. But I’ve put a link back there if you’re interested.


How Does Asbestos Harm Our Health

Diagram showing the damage asbestos can cause in the body: scarring of the lung tis-sue; pleural plaques – thickening of membranes around the lung; mesothelioma – ma-lignant tumours or cancers that can develop around the lungs or intestine.

Asbestos becomes a risk when it is inhaled as a fine dust. It increases with the frequency of exposure and the number fibres replaced.

When it is inhaled it is the finer fibres that are difficult to remove and can be lodged in the lung or go onto further penetrate the body.

The following are some of the diseases that Asbestos causes:


  • - Mesthelioma – Cancers and malignant tumors, which develop around the lungs and intestines.
  • - Asbestosis – Scarring of lung tissue
  • - Plural Plaques – Thickens membranes around the lungs
  • - Lung Cancer

So How Do You Identify Asbestos?

The Bad news is … this is a big topic and requires lots of images and references, The good news is,  we’re going to explore it in bite size chunks and make it easy-to-understand, so you can become an expert at it … and your clients can reference it at anytime, if they need to know more.

But what I’ll say for now is, that it can’t be identified by looking at it. It has to be labelled or identified through a sample and analyzes by a professional with a white coat sitting in a laboratory.

If you need to get a sample tested, you can find a health protection officer at any public health unit of your local (DHB) District Health Board.


Asbestos In The Home

What should you do?

If you find asbestos in a home, there are protection measures, which should be discussed with a health protection officer.

But some of the options are: Leaving it as is, removing it or sealing, encapsulating or enclosing it.

Enclosing involves constructing something around the area effected.

Encapsulating happens when a coating is applies to the area, which soaks through to the effected area, hardens and prevents it from loosening and crumbling as it ages.

Sealing it with paint will again, prevent it from loosening and crumbling.


Identifying Common Areas Around The Home

An illustration of where in a house asbestos may be found, as described in the list beside it.

1. Roofing and Siding Shingles -  Shingles being overlapping elements, which are typically laid in overlapping rows and are flat and rectangular.
2. Homes constructed between 1930 and 1950 may have insulation which is asbestos.
3. Can appear in textured paint and compounds used for patching on the ceiling joists and walls.
4. Old gas fire places with artificial embers and ashes may have asbestos
5. Old Stove top pads may contain asbestos compounds
6. Wood-burning stoves with protection around floors and walls with asbestos cement sheets, millboard (stiff gray pasteboard) and some paper.
7. Vinyl flooring tiles and the adhesive to hold the tiles can contain asbestos
8. Asbestos blanket and tape around hot water and steam pipes as well as asbestos coated material for the same use.
9. Coal and furnaces as well as door gaskets may have asbestos insulation.

Next issue we’ll go a bit deeper into identifying the elements around the home like:

What is Asbestos  Super Six?




Monolithic Cladding 101 And it’s Contributions Towards Leaky Homes – Part Two

by Peter Duncan

Leaky Homes Has Shocking Consequences As Ripple Effect Continues


Okay, so leading off from where we were -

Part One of Leaky Homes and Monolithic Cladding -

In this section we want to be able to discover how to identify a potentially leaky home.

While doing some research…

I recently read a a gut-wrenching article titled  ”Win for Wellington leaky home owners” – You may have read it.

It’s about a young family in Wellington having to pick up a $346,000 repair bill for a leaky home.

…as well as an inexperienced building inspector having to pay $180,000 of that same bill – he lost his own home out of it as he wasn’t insured – because he did a “quick check” for $280 and missed a really critical defect with the home… The leaky part!!

It made me sick to the pit of my stomach – for both of them.

Again, a perfect example of how much extra this leaky homes debacle is now costing 2nd and 3rd hand parties … on top of the initial losses to owners and design/construction/council teams that were involved in creating it originally.

Makes me kind nauseous just thinking about who else is going to get caught up in it.

In my mind, the only solution to it, is abundant awareness and education.

You may want to read another related article  that was written about leaky homes, which talks about how leaky homes has added the figure of $26 million per year on health costs

So how are we to know, which ones are leaky … which is the million dollar question!

You can’t easily identify a leaky home, you have to leave that to the experts – we certainly do – but you can identify a “suspect”, which could potentially be a leaky home.

How to detect leaky homes – Not all homes covered in tarpaulin are leaky!



So-as you can get your ‘warning bells’ going off, we’ll start with what might trigger them when you first get to a property that could potentially be a leaky home.

I’ll try and explain so you can get a good feel for what to look for by exploring the different types of Monolithic claddings.

Don’t worry, I ran this past my 83 year old mother and she remained interested!

Why so?

Because her neighbour had his whole house covered in tarpaulin and I was out there on the weekend. She lives in a very tightly-woven community, where everyone makes it their business to know everyone elses … and she was told it was a leaky home. So I went over and politely asked the neighbour if I could take some photo’s, because I was doing an article on leaky homes – after looking at me up and down, he promptly replied “It’s not leaky home, we’re doing major renovations.”

With a red-face retort, I said “Ooh! … well you better set the record straight with your neighbours then, cos I think they’ve probably just devalued your home by a couple of hundred grand!”

He quickly shifted his surly disposition into a wry smile – Luckily!


You firstly have to identify the type of house that might come under the Leaky Home banner and to do that, you have to have a picture of what that might look like.

Secondly, you need to find out the age … and if it comes in between the ages of 1994 – 2005, then it’s a prime suspect.

Below are the 3 different types of cladding systems that come under that banner, along with pictures to help you identify them.


3 Different Types of Monolithic Claddings in New Zealand.


There are three main types of cladding in New Zealand


  1. 1. Stucco
  2. 2. EIFS (“Chilli Bin”)
  3. 3. Fibre-cement sheets (“Harditex”)


1. Stucco

Stucco is a form of solid plastering it’s a sand/cement mix, which in the old days used to be made up on-site and then applied to a sheathing hardiboard or over building paper. It’s roughly about 22-25mm thick, which is about the thickness of your little finger. Today’s detail involves a multi layered system and is probably the least used type of cladding system today.


2. EIFS (“Chilli Bin”)

(Click on image to view larger size)

It stands for “Exterior Insulated Finishing System” and it means plastered polystyrene.

It originated in Germany after World War 2, it then went to America and arrived on our shores in the 80’s.

This type of cladding is deep, which is about 40mm-60mm thick and you can identify it by looking at the windows, as they are generally recessed.


3. Fibre Cement Sheets – Texture Coated (“HardiTex”)


These are sheets that are primarily cement based, and mixed with fibre. They came out of Austria and in the old days were, 90% cement and 10% asbestos, which have now been replaced with other fibrous or mesh material. They’re approximately 7mm thick and come in sizes of 2.4 x 1.2 with a rebated edge. They can be finished just with paint or they can be plastered.

To check, you can reach down and put your hand underneath the plasterboard and you might be able to feel a smooth, continuous plastic base capping, if that exists, then that’s a good thing, it means there’s a cavity system in place.


Today’s Solutions  - Same Stuff Different Method


The 4D’s system was coined by an architect in Vancouver and it’s a system or be it a guideline for builders to follow when managing water in the construction process.

 If you can get the structure of this principal you’ll probably know more than most builders.

It’s an easy way to remember this concept … It’s been packaged up into chunk size bites, which’ll let you recall the correct way to talk about how a property should be constructed, without getting too technical.

You just have to remember it in a logical and layered order-of-priority, if water was to hit the house.

Based on a contingency plan, there are 4 layers, which minimizes water from getting through:


Firstly … Deflect the water

 If that fails … Drain the water

If that fails … Dry the water

If that fails … Endure the water (Durability)

So, Deflect, Drain, Dry or worst case, if moisture still exists, (Durability) the materials must endure it.


Below is a breakdown of what each of these mean…

1. Deflection

Designed to intercept water on the face of the building and deflect away from the critical junctions in the cladding by aids such as window head flashings, roof eaves, verandas, parapet capping, window facings as well as the actual style of the building.

2. Drainage

If penetrated is to ideally run down the back of the cladding, finding specifically designed outlets to drain the water.

A cavity system, which are battens between the cladding and the protective wall covering isn’t the ultimate form but more of a back-up system designed to drain water.


3. Drying

Air needs to circulate within the wall assembly to dry the water out. This is to eliminate remaining moisture. The sun and wind will dry the exterior.


4. Durability

All cladding must meet the requirements of the building code, which requires a minimum of 15 years durability … the same goes for flashings.

We’ll continue to explore the vast landscape of leaky homes in later editions.

For those of you who want to get a bit deeper into these principles here is a link to the official BRANZ document, which is only two pages long.

BRANZ – Article

Building Today NZ

Click here to download a sample report

Monolithic Cladding 101 And it’s Contributions Towards Leaky Homes – Part One

by admin


Leaky Homes – $11.3 Billion Dollars later!

– If Monolithic Cladding is to Blame Why Is it Still Being Used Today?


I met up with my brother-in-law Matt,  he’s carrying out an extension on a house, which is using the Monolithic cladding.

He was telling me the job has blown out from a 6 week job to 12. You could tell his blood was boiling as he was explaining the frustrations he and his team were having applying it to the new extension. “Ain’t no water getting into this house!” he grunted.

So after that brief conversation, it looks to me like the engineers, architects, manufacturers and who ever else have all come to the party and tightened up specifications.

Leaky Homes Crisis — It’s cost this country 11.3 billion dollars in total and tax payers 25% of that. But is it going to cost us any more and why are we still using Monolithic Cladding?

With changes to the Real Estate Code of Conduct, which came into force on the 8th April, licensees will most likely be asking home sellers to provide independent reports for anything that may look like it has defects especially weathertightness, to ensure there’s no confusion between all parties and that the onus lies with the seller.

It’s also partly to blame for the liquidation of Mainzeal and the loss of hundreds of jobs across the country. However Mainzeal also says it had the downturn to blame as well.


Monolithic Cladding! Lets try and understand it with an easy-to-understand definition.

The Best Definition Of Monolithic Cladding I Could Find!

Fibrous cement sheets applied together giving the impression of seamless and continuous coverage to the outside walls of the property.

According to the, the definition of  ’Monolithic’ cladding is:

“A cladding of sheet material forming a continuous mass, with an applied coating to give the appearance of a seamless cladding”

Other definitions of Monolithic Cladding:


A Brief History Of Leaky Homes!

It was the popular plaster coated monolithic clad homes that were letting water into the wall cavity and not allowing it to get out again.  As opposed to standard weatherboard homes, which have an airspace in behind and below for drainage and drying.

Moisture would become trapped inside of the wall and because of poor sealing standards at the time and lack of flashings to windows.

In 1997 the law changed around untreated timber being allowed to be used in homes. The timber used, no longer needed to be treated with Boron (prevention of borer). That same treatment improved the resistance of rot, so it was really a combination of these two things that amounted to a lethal dose that effected a nation.

2002 the Government commissioned, what is known as the Hunn report, to investigate the issues of leaky homes, which speedily resulted in a change to the Building Act 2004.  As a result we now use monolithic cladding with an air-cavity, allowing for proper drainage as  well as properly treated timber.  The government – at the same time – set up the Weathertight Homes Tribunal for claims of compensation.

After a swath of litigation for repair claims against local councils for issuing code of compliance certificates from negligent inspections. The Government then commissioned Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) in 2009, in which  damning evidence uncovered by of the investigation exposed an estimated repair bill of $11.3 Billion for 42,000 effected homes.

A Financial Assistance Package in 2011, was set up by the Government for leaky homes, in which they contribute 25% to approved repairs.

  Typical Example Of A Monolithic Leaky Home


Watch Our Video Below To See A Typical Example Of A Leaky Home

Technical Side In Layman’s Terms

The image below  tells the story of how the cladding system used to fail before the new water proofing systems were brought into place. As you can see the moisture build up around the flashing area and in between the plaster finish and Monolithic backing. There’s nowhere for the moisture to drain. 

The second image is a modern cavity system, which is used on all monolithic cladding systems. It allows any moisture that gets into cladding system to escape without causing any damage to any of the building materials. The addition of a cavity battern allows for drainage and the waterproof underlay prevents moisture from getting in. 



Monolithic Cladding 101 And it’s Contributions Towards Leaky Homes – Part Two

Will delve a bit deeper into the different types of Monolithic cladding:

    • Stucco


    • EIFS (“Chilli Bin”)


    • Fibre-cement sheets (“Harditex”)



…as well as exploring a bit more of the leaky homes saga and how to understand the changes we’ve made through the 4d’s system.
    • Deflection


    • Drainage (the cavity concept)


    • Drying


  • Durability

We’ll describe what to look for, prevention and maintenance methods and other resources to help guide through this complex area.

Why You Should You Get A Building Inspection?

by admin

When buying a new home one of the most important decisions you will make is whether to carry out a building inspection.The idea of buying a house is one of the most stressful and yet exciting times in someones life and it is vital to understand what you are buying. If people ask if they should get a building inspection, I will always say: ” Of Course!” A lot of people pay to have their vehicles looked at before they buy it without blinking an eye. The same way of thinking should be applied when buying a house. Cars like houses have problems and no doubt there will be some aspects of the house that you may not have noticed while on your own. A house inspector will be the best possible match to make you aware of any issues that may arise before you commit to something that you may not be aware of before you go through with the purchase.
A house inspector can help you determine if the house has any material defects or safety issues of which you as the
buyer need to be aware. Do not be alarmed if your house has some defects or issues. No matter how well the house has
been maintained, no house is perfect.
We come across a lot of defects when we carry out inspections and in particular electrical work that has been
undertaken by an unqualified electrician or a DIY homeowner.There are many things the do it yourself crowd can handle
safely, electrical work is not one of them. This is one area where a trained and experienced home inspector is required to help determine whether or not a defect exists or if you and your family will possibly be at risk.

While we do inspect your electrical system your home inspector also inspects the structure of the house, the roof, plumbing, heating and cooling system, and other readily accessible areas of the house that will be costly to replace like a worn out roof.

It is a wise decision to invest a small amount of money into the largest financial investments most people have in their lifetimes. For a reasonable fee that will protect your peace of mind and your bank balance. It certainly out weighs the potential of finding a house that may cost a huge amount to bring up to standard and more importantly the safety of you and your family.

The benefits of getting an building inspection carried out before you buy a home would probably be one of the most pragmatic decisions you make in your lifetime. You can find building inspection companies through your local agents, in the Yellow Pages and on the web. Be sure to go with a professional company that is especially trained and carry
out inspections full time.

Steven Brien has been active house industry for over 25 years, he serves as an authority on a range of related
topics to the house industry and runs the largest group house inspectors in the country.

What does a Doctor & A House Inspector have in Common?

by admin

I know there are far better places to be than going to the doctor for a check up. I don’t know about you but I hate it when I get the call. It is just the idea of knowing what he does when he goes through his routine of prodding and poking. When he sits down at his desk for his diagnosis and pens out half a novel without saying a word, I sit there wondering as I gaze at him across his desk and think there must be a huge amount wrong with me this time.

At this point he will usually leave you in suspense as he writes out his thesis. When I stare at him across his big desk I can imagine what he is going to tell me. It will be something along the lines of “You should be taking better care of yourself, get out and do some more excercise and you need to start eating healthy food.”

You can probably by now see some of the likeness between the two professions. Both doctor and property inspector are trying find any defects and or anything wrong that could potentially be hazardess to the health and safety of you and your family. Of course I would like to point out that we don’t wear rubber gloves, we print our reports and don’t tell you to get more excercise.

Like doctors we are just doing our jobs so we can provide peace of mind knowing that one of your most important assets is not at risk. It is best to maintain the property and do regular checks on the condition to avoid a big long set of tasks later on.

When you find that house that you have been looking for, it is a worthwhile cause to get it checked by a professional to pick up any defects that you or anybody else may have missed. Pre purchase inspections can be very handy when you have missed something that could save you a fortune later on.

If your inspecting the property yourself make sure you have a checklist of all the main areas, starting by breaking them down for example interior and exterior and then their individual components. Make sure, only if you’re confident, to check the plumbing and the electrical. If you are not, then you can just check things like the taps and light switches to see if their are any abnormalities. It is advisable even if you do have experience in this area to get a professional in. just to make sure you have that a second opinion.

There may be some defects that you have noticed. You can at this point ask your agent if they have been factored into the price. If they haven’t, you can always try negotiating with the owner to have them rectified. In most cases these would have been picked up by the agent i he is worth his salt.

If you don’t feel confident in certain areas for example under the floor or in the roof. Again I would suggest you get a professional opinion, it will give you peace of mind knowing you can always fall back on in the future if anything arises.