A sale and purchase agreement on a property you maybe planning to buy or sell should contain a ‘Builder’s Report’ or ‘Building Inspection Report’ clause. Essentially the report should tell you the current condition of the house and other buildings on the property. But more specifically it needs to cover “Significant Defects” and “Significant Maintenance”. These are the important things a purchaser needs to know about the property. Here is a list of defects we commonly find and the type of issues that should be identified if present during a builders report;
- Serious defects that is visible to the inspector.
- Hidden damage associated with visible defects. It is not possible to know what is behind the walls from a visual inspection, but if a section of cladding is leaky; it is likely the framing beneath the defective cladding is decayed. The report should explain the likely extent of the problem in situation such as this.
- Materials commonly known to be associated with failure such as ‘Dux Qest’ plumbing which is known to leak and cause extensive water damage and ‘Weatherside’ cladding which is a type of weatherboard that rots outs fairly quickly even when it is maintained properly.
- The likelihood of asbestos products used as building materials – IE fibre cement cladding from houses built prior to 2000, but more commonly houses built in the 1980’s and before
- Leaky building problems – this is a well-known problem in some New Zealand houses. Even when there are no visible signs of leaks or damage but there are signs of leaky building problems that an inspector would be aware of, then they should be reported on and the report should recommend further invasive testing. Houses built from plaster and flat sheet materials typically from 1990 – 2002, are more at risk.
- Leaky showers or other plumbing fixtures where swollen skirting exist and where damaged wall framing may have occurred or could occur in future.
Borer damage to floor framing, wall and roof framing. Borer is a serious issue that eventually causes structural damage. If not already. Floors become springy and unsound as the strength of the structural members is reduced by tunnelling effects of the borer. Houses built prior to 1960 are commonly affected by borer.
- Major maintenance that is due or soon to be required such as painting the roof and exterior walls should be included in builder’s reports. More detail should be included when these items are difficult to access or costly to carry out.
- Excessive wear and tear or damage on surfaces such as floors, walls, ceilings and doors and windows that affect the function of those surfaces
- Weathering of external surfaces that affect the function of those surfaces such as extensive moss and lichen that is damaging materials, sun-damage to plastic spouting.
- Deteriorating structures other than the main house on the property such as fences, out buildings and pergolas for example.
Who should be providing Builders Report?
- The house inspection industry is not regulated! Anyone can carry out those services so you should look carefully and find a reputable company specialising in pre purchase inspections, builder’s reports and building surveying.
- Someone who is well experienced in assessing and reporting on buildings in New Zealand. For someone to obtain suitable experience in this field requires proper training in the field of ‘Building Surveying’ or ‘Building Inspection‘ and should have experience in the building construction industry of New Zealand and;
- A person who has relevant qualifications such as ‘Registered Building Surveyor”, formal qualifications and/or training relating to residential building inspection and;
- A person or company that is covered by suitable Professional Indemnity insurance.
Thermal Imaging and Moisture Scanning Services
- There are many building report services available that use technology such a thermal cameras and hand held moisture scanners to assess moisture buildings. While these devices ‘come in handy’ from time to time they do not provide any conclusive results and from our experience the results are usually misinterpreted.
- None of these devices can see into walls. The images provided by thermal cameras is simply an image formed from the surface of the material that illustrates the temperature difference across that surface using an array of colours. Many things affect those temperatures which often has nothing to do with excessive moisture or leaky building issues.
- Moisture scanners identify presence of moisture at a very short depth into the material and will also not often pick up moisture inside the wall. In fact, in most occasions if the moisture meter does identify excessive dampness in say wall skirting or linings, the issues are probably already visibly evident.
- Our advice is to not rely on reports that are simply based on thermal imaging or such techniques or appear to form their conclusions that are based on the results of any form of non-invasive equipment to determine if the building is free from dampness issues or not, instead you should rely on experienced inspectors and building surveyors that understand the issues with New Zealand homes and can inspect and report on them accurately.