What is a Registered Building Surveyor?
A registered building surveyor provides expert advice on building matters. The range of services often includes;
- Building condition and defect reports
- Expert witness for court procedings
- Building remediation services
- Project management
- Contract administration
Visit The New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors (NZIBS) at www.buildingsurveyors.co.nz for more information about building surveying in New Zealand .
I’ve been told to get a builder’s report. Do you provide these?
Yes, our reports are builder’s reports/ building reports and will be fit for purpose to fulfil any typical purchase and sale agreement as they are independent and deliver a true opinion on the current condition of the property. Money lenders, insurance companies and lawyers would normally accept our reports as being completed by a suitably qualified person and company.
How many days in advance do clients need to book?
We have a team of inspectors and generally are able to accommodate bookings that are made approximately 3 days in advance.
How long will the inspection take?
It is usual for the inspector to be on site anywhere from 2 – 4 hours.
How long after the inspection will the report be ready?
2 – 3 working days or earlier. Depending on workload, sometimes we may be able to offer a 24 hour turnaround for urgent reports.
What format are reports provided in?
Reports are e-mailed as a PDF report in full colour with photos. Since most of our clients have no requirement for printed copies, we post a hardcopy only to those clients who specifically request it.
If the inspector has no access to check the floor space under the dwelling or the roof space or a locked room, what is the procedure?
The inspector will prepare a report based on what he visually inspected at the time of inspection. If he has no access due to the unavailability of a key, personal belongings piled up over an access hatch, an access hatch covered by a fridge or washing machine or underneath carpeting, this will be noted on the report. Our inspectors are not permitted to handle home occupants personal belongings or furniture. If access is provided at a later date, there is a charge of $175 per hour + GST for a re-inspection of the relevant areas.
Are you Licensed Building Practitioners (LBP’s)?
We are not LPB’s because an LBP qualification does not cover building surveys and therefore the LBP qualification is not suitable for building surveys. LBP qualifications relate to actual building work only such as design, carpentry, roofing, bricklaying etc…
Do you use moisture meters and if so, what can they do?
Yes we do use moisture meters, but beware of claims about moisture meters! There are two common functions of a moisture meter (although some only have one function – the scan mode).
- Scan Mode (non invasive)– this function is employed by touching the surfaces with the hand held moisture meter and signals are sent into the materials and then returned to the moisture meter which displays a relative reading on a scale of say 1-100, or 1-1000 as used by the more common brands. These readings do not provide an accurate measure of moisture in the material and cannot be relied upon. Many claims are made in building reports that the building is either wet or dry, or leaking or not leaking This information is usually inaccurate and the readings are often unreliable. A moisture meter in scan mode should only be used as an extra tool for the experienced building surveyor and the readings should not be provided in a report as they will usually be misleading and misinterpreted by money lenders, prospective buyers and the like.
- Resistance Mode (invasive) – This function uses attachable probes that are inserted into the timber of the building and is usually used to measure the actual moisture content of the framing inside the wall and roof and the like. The result is that the moisture meter returns readings expressed in percentages, such as 18% (moisture content of the timber in the area tested). The process often means that holes must be drilled through the wall linings or cladding to insert the probes into the timber framing. The purpose of this is to determine if the timber is wet or not and that will indicate if leaks are apparent. The process is usually used when risk of leaks has already been identified and further investigation is needed to determine the real issues behind the linings. This process is not usually employed during a pre-purchase or pre-sale inspection.
Do you use infra-red thermal detection cameras to detect moisture?
No, because infra-red detects differences in temperature and not moisture. They cannot see behind wall linings. They return images of the surface only. There are claims that damp areas can be identified by thermal cameras, but in reality they can’t do this reliably. They might identify an area that is damp based on the fact that damp areas are cooler, but the problem is that areas receiving less sunlight, or artificial light is also cooler and therefore the information received from thermal cameras is very ambiguous, misleading and unhelpful. Therefore infra-red cameras cannot be relied upon; but can be used as an extra tool to an experienced building surveyor. The following conditions make thermal camera operation difficult;
- Winds, variable air pressure
- Irregular sunlight and heat from the sun or artificial heating onto surfaces being viewed
- Dew and condensation
- Concealed cold water pipes or metal components
What is included in a Pre Purchase/Pre Sale inspection?
The main focus is on identifying ‘Significant Defects’ with a property on the basis of a ‘visual inspection’ (i.e. simply viewing the property features without specific testing). Typically the following items are included;
- The site – retainer walls, fencing, driveways, paths, surface water control
- The main dwelling – roof and wall exteriors, foundations, roof space, sub floor space, each internal room. We look for signs of structural unsoundness, weathertightness failure , mould and internal environment issues, plumbing leaks, insulation deficiencies (where visible such roof and floor spaces), we check the floor levels for unacceptable slopes. See examples of what we look for and what we find (photos supplied further down)
- Outbuildings, sheds
What is the difference between a LIM and the property file?
A LIM (Land information Memorandum) is a report produced by the council typically at the request of a home buyer that provides all information about the property that the council have on record and would typically include building consents, code compliance certificates, notices, warnings and the like. It would also include information about flood prone areas nearby or on the property, historical building notices, protected tress, rates information and more. The property file on the other hand is the physical documentation held by the council that is made available to the public for their perusal.
Roofs – even when they are high, slippery and dangerous! We have special equipment for this. We check for leaky roofs, unstable chimneys, blocked gutters, unusual repairs and large maintenance items…
Roof spaces – checking for signs of leaks, such as mould and decay. Check the insulation for large gaps…
Wall cladding – We look for decayed cladding, cracks and loose bricks, leaky cladding causing decay to framing…
Sub floor space – we are looking for inadequate repairs, leaky pipes, wet ground, borer, and soundness of the floor structure…
Showers – check for leaks in the cubicle…
Hot Water Cylinders – we check for leaks and poorly supported cylinders…
Inside the house – we scan walls for dampness, look for signs of leaks, check the floor levels, and check the windows…
Drainage – check for blocked drains…
Earthquake damage and repairs – we check if there is damage, and if repairs are suitable…