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Leaky home guide

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What is a leaky home?

"Leaky home" is the commonly used term for residential properties or homes where there has been damage due to leaking.

For the purposes of the Weathertight Homes Resolution Services (WHRS) Act 2006 a leaky home is "a dwellinghouse into which water has penetrated as a result of any aspect of the design, construction or alteration of the dwellinghouse, or materials used in its construction or alteration and where the penetration of water has caused damage".

In many cases, the resulting damage in homes is not immediately obvious.

Why should you check if you might have a leaky home?

There are a large number of homes in New Zealand that are leaking, damp and mouldy, and are rotting over time. In July 2009, a Pricewaterhouse Coopers report estimated that between 22,000 and 89,000 homes were affected with a consensus forecast of 42,000 dwellings that were likely to be leaky homes. Only a minority - around 3,500 - have been repaired to date.

There is rarely a single cause of a leaky home. Contributing factors include problems involving design and installation of materials or the use of methods that haven't withstood the weather conditions in New Zealand.

A number of things can happen if a leaky home problem is ignored.

These can include:

Common features 

These are some common features that can be problem areas on leaky homes:

  1. Parapets and flat roofs
  2. Roof to wall junctions
  3. Pergola fixings
  4. Handrail fixings
  5. Lack of flashings to windows and penetrations
  6. Decks over living areas
  7. Balustrade to deck or balustrade to wall junctions
  8. Clearances at bottom of claddings
  9. Level of ground outside is above interior floor level

Drawing of a house with Common Signs  marked.

Figure 1

If your house has some or all of these features it does not necessarily mean that you have a leaky home, but it is worth checking your home. If you have any concerns talk to the Department or a contact an expert such as a building surveyor Link to the Building Surveyors website. .

If your home was built within the last 10 years and you intend to lodge a claim under the WHRS Act , we can arrange for your home to be assessed.

Common signs of damage in leaky homes

The most obvious signs of leaks are water dripping or pooling inside when it's raining.

However, most leaky homes have less obvious signs some of which are:

  • sagging of ceiling linings
  • corrosion of fixings (i.e. screws, nails, etc)
  • uneven floor surfaces - lifting of vinyl
  • mould or fungi formation on surfaces (although this is often due to poor ventilation)
  • musty smells
  • swollen materials e.g. skirtings/architraves
  • staining or discolouration of materials or finishes
  • stained or rotting carpet or rusting of carpet fixings

It is also important to note that in many cases signs of leaking may not be very obvious.

If you suspect your home may be leaking or discover any of these signs, you may want to engage a weathertight expert to check your home or contact the Department to discuss your options.