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Winter a reminder of the need to ensure a weathertight home

11 June 2007: With winter here, people buying, building or renovating a home are encouraged to follow basic steps to make sure their property is weathertight.

The Department of Building and Housing (the Department) says winter is the time of year when weathertightness problems in homes often become evident.

“As we head deeper into the cold and wet season, it’s timely to remind home owners and home buyers of the steps they can take to protect their asset and their health,” Deputy Chief Executive, Service Delivery, Nigel Bickle says.

Mr Bickle says two checklists have been developed to help people buying, building, maintaining or wanting to renovate their home make sure it’s weathertight.  The checklists can be found on the www.consumerbuild.org.nz website, a joint Consumers’ Institute and Department website, which provides a one-stop shop for people seeking information on building and housing matters. 

“There has been considerable publicity about what has become known as leaky homes, a problem largely confined to certain types of houses built or renovated in the 1990s, and what has been done to resolve that issue. But it’s important that people realise that keeping a house weathertight is an ongoing task.

“The checklist for home maintenance advises how to approach the different types of maintenance - regular chores such as cleaning gutters, repairs as needed, planning ahead for major tasks like re-roofing, and preparing for emergencies. It also provides guidance on the main areas needing maintenance, such as walls, balconies and decks, drains, gutters and roofs.”

“The checklist for home buying covers what questions people need to ask, what aspects of the property need to be checked, features to watch out for, what information you can access on the property, and getting the sale and purchase agreement right,” Mr Bickle says.

Emotional factors often drive the purchase of a home, meanwhile maintenance efforts mostly focus on making homes look good.

“People should stop and take the time to carry out some basic checks to make sure that what is often their biggest purchase doesn’t end up being time consuming and causing financial stress at a later stage. And it’s important to continue focusing on the health of their house and their ongoing investment, long after the purchase. To sum it up, New Zealanders need to buy smart, build right and properly maintain their homes,” Mr Bickle says.


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For further information contact Richard Braddell, Senior Advisor - Communications, Department of Building and Housing, DDI 04 471 1738, Mobile 027 258 2849.

The checklists and other information on building and housing can be found on www.consumerbuild.org.nz.

Media backgrounder

What is weathertightness and why is it important?
Weathertightness is the resistance of a building to the weather. It is not necessarily about waterproofing, but rather ensuring against dampness inside buildings and damage to building elements due to moisture. Weathertightness is important to prevent fungal growth and rotting, which can require extensive repairs.

What information is the Government providing to educate consumers about weathertightness issues?
A two year Weathertightness Consumer Information Programme, launched in February 2007, aims to increase awareness of weathertightness issues and enable people to make informed decisions about buying, building, renovating and maintaining their homes.

The key components of this programme are the enhanced ConsumerBuild website and availability of a home buying and home maintenance checklist.

How can homeowners make sure their properties are weathertight?
The ConsumerBuild website, www.consumerbuild.org.nz, was jointly developed two years ago by the Department of Building and Housing and the Consumers’ Institute to provide an independent source of practical, consumer-focussed information on house building and renovation.  It has now been significantly enhanced to include a section on home maintenance, guidance about house buying, and information about recognising and responding to weathertightness issues. 

The enhanced website provides many practical, easy-to-use tips for home buyers and home owners. There are new two checklists which advise the steps to take when buying, maintaining or renovating property to minimise the likelihood of any weathertightness problems:

  1. Buying a House
  2. Maintaining your Home

What are the key things to consider when buying a home and maintaining property?
Buying a home is one of the biggest financial investments a lot of people will make, so it’s important to get it right and make an informed decision. This might involve:

  • getting a pre-purchase from a qualified assessor
  • checking the property for potential signs of leaking
  • asking if the property has had any weathertightness problems
  • getting a LIM report from the local council and asking to view the property file
  • asking for a copy of the body corporate records
  • seeking legal advice about the property title
  • using a contract like the Auckland District Law Society’s standard sale and purchase contract.

As equally as important as buying smart, is properly maintaining a home. Good maintenance will help keep homes safe and secure, families healthy, save money by fixing problems before they get bigger and protect the financial investment. People should:

  • plan for regular preventative maintenance
  • budget for major maintenance tasks like repainting
  • carry out repairs promptly to avoid larger problems developing
  • get qualified help when necessary
  • combat dampness by insulating, ventilating and heating your home
  • check mould and water stains for possible weathertightness problems

How does ConsumerBuild fit into the Government’s building reform package?
The development of ConsumerBuild is part of a package of Government measures aimed at ensuring homes are designed and built right the first time. 

The Government's reform package also includes: the introduction of the new Weathertight Homes Resolution Service Act; introducing a financial assistance pilot scheme to help owners of leaky homes, investigating how to make housing more energy efficient, licensing of those who design and build while protecting the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) tradition; reviewing the Building Code; auditing and accrediting Building Consent Authorities; building product certification; and investigating options for home warranty and professional indemnity insurance.

What about owners of leaky homes?
On 1 April 2007, the Weathertight Homes Resolution Services Act 2006 (the WHRS Act) came into force.

The purpose of the new WHRS Act is to provide speedy, flexible and cost-effective procedures for resolving leaky home disputes as an alternative to the courts.  The enhancements focus on getting leaky homes fixed as early as possible, settling disputes faster and enhancing consumer protection for homebuyers.

These enhancements are complemented by the Weathertightness Consumer Information Programme and the other Government housing initiatives which aim to minimise the chance of similar issues in the future.

What role does the Department of Building and Housing play?
The Department offers a range of building and housing-related information, advice and services. This includes:

  • Receiving WHRS claim applications and providing assessment, information, guidance and mediation services to owners of leaky homes.
  • Providing advice and information to landlords and tenants and providing a nationwide dispute resolution service;
  • Receiving and holding rental bonds until the end of a tenancy; and
  • Providing advice and guidance on how to comply with the law when building, renovating or maintaining homes or buildings.

Where can people get more information about buying, building, renovating and maintaining homes, and weathertightness issues?
Visit www.consumerbuild.org.nz for advice on building, renovating or maintaining a home, and your rights, responsibilities and dispute resolution options if things go wrong.

Visit www.consumer.org.nz for Consumers’ Institute information on weathertightness and other reports on home and DIY topic.

Visit www.dbh.govt.nz for information on Government initiatives in the housing and building sector, as well as practical tips and available services.

Journalists can contact Department Media Adviser Richard Braddell on 04 471 1738 or 027 258 2849.

The following freephones are available:

  • For information on weathertight services (leaky homes claims) call
    0800 324 477
  • For tenancy advice and information call
    0800 83 62 62
  • For tenancy bond queries call
    0800 737 666
  • For building controls and Building Act information call
    0800 242 243
  • For occupational licensing information call
    0800 60 60 50

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