How Detailed Should a Building Inspection Reports Be?

Employing experience is invaluable when buying a home & getting building inspection reports, right?

As the years go by, and our company does more and more building inspection reports in NZ, we can safely say we’ve experienced just about type of inspection scenario on site.

Where do you fit in to these common inspection types?

Pre Purchase: This is a critical ‘make or break’ type of inspection that should be as detailed as possible for the buyer. Some structural inspectors will spend 2hrs on site, whilst others will spend up to 5 hrs doing the inspection on the same property. As a home buyer, you have the right to know as much detail as possible about the condition of the home prior to purchasing (the bank would also like know), from foundations to roof… and yes, some inspection companies will provide a completely different report.

Although we get plenty of referrals from real estate agents and banks, make sure you do your own research and don’t be convinced by any agent about which company you should use. In fact, we have heard some agents will tell clients which building inspector not to use because they might loose the sale because of the detailed reports provided! Most agents are non-biased due to tight regulations they need to adhere to, but it’s always safer to go about things your own way.

Pre Sale: Selling your house? Don’t be afraid the inspector will ‘pull your home to pieces’, because any issue they detect will most likely help you complete a sale when it comes time to sell. Most home sellers just want to know there is nothing major wrong with their house, and what steps they should take to tidy the home up in preparation for sale. Usually it comes down to resealing windows, painting external cladding, making sure ground clearances are ok and no leaks are ticking away and concealed behind a wall etc.

Many agents these days will suggest a pre-sale inspection for moisture and structural, just so they can be sure they can sell the home with confidence. Same goes for private sales.

building inspection reports Leak Inspection After Buying House: Yes… this is the worst type of inspection for us because it generally means the house leaked the first time it rained after they moved into the property. In most cases, it also means they didn’t get an inspection prior to buying the home and are now stuck with a big repair bill. Don’t be one of these people! Thermal imaging is a good way to detect wet insulation and existing leaks.

Buying at Auction: This is the most common type of ‘unknown’ purchase for buyers… when you purchase the home at auction it’s unconditional the moment the hammer comes down on your winning bid. Or, was it really a losing bid? The problem with spending money on inspections before buying, is that you might not win the auction and it’s a waste of money… and what if you have to do it 5 times before eventually winning an auction? That could run into $2500 – $3500+ just for building inspection reports, valuations, lawyers fees etc.

If you run the numbers on the amount of money you could spend on thermal imaging inspections etc, then you will most likely still be way out in front because if you buy a home with just one wet wall, then it still works out the 5 inspections  will be cheaper than a potential huge repair bill (New framing, insulation, gib board, plastering and painting… and repairing the water ingress source).

These comments above are based on experience, not just because we provide moisture detection services… it’s the same scenario no matter which house inspection company you use.

Cold Store Panels Retaining Moisture

Here is an infrared photo from a thermographic survey we did for one of the largest dairy companies in the world.

Thermal imaging cameras are an excellent tool for detecting moisture ingress into cold store panels.

We were recently hired to detect any signs of water leaking into a building freezer cool room made up entirely of 150mm thick polystyrene panels (poly in the middle and a plastic skin on either side). Between each panel is a join as seen in this image below.

cold store panels leaking

(The darkest area is water under the sealant between the panels. The lighter shades is water under the panels)

In theory: The roof should be a uniform temperature across the entire surface, as there is no shade or obstructions that could cause a different infrared temperature reading in isolated areas. On this roof, there were thermal anomalies in several areas which indicates there could be moisture ingress inside the panels.

The reason we can detected these anomalies, is because the moisture inside the panels would heat up and cool down at a different rate to the rest of the panels where no moisture is present. Thermal imaging can detect such anomalies instantly.

Taking into account the cool stores are running below zero degrees, any water inside these panels will most likely freeze. Frozen water will lead to excess weight inside the panels, and will also cause loss of cold air by conduction.

Potential Danger: A large build up of ice inside a low pitch roof cavity which is only 150mm thick could cause the roof to collapse due to sudden increase in weight.

Time of Survey: Just as the sun went down to avoid reflection giving off false readings. We needed some daylight so we had a reference point in the still images. This infrared inspection should have been done from a cherry picker or helicopter for safety reasons, but the pitch of the roof was low and safe to walk on.

In summary: Further invasive testing should be carried out in random areas to confirm if moisture/ice is present, and to confirm the structural integrity of the roof area.

Water Behind Paint on Plaster Cladding

We recently carried out an inspection for a client who started to notice patchy discolouration on their cladding. Naturally concerned, they decided to get a thermal imaging scan carried out.

Fortunately for the home owner they had a cavity system in place so the likelihood that water got across the cavity, then across the building paper which is wrapped around the framing was very remote. The moisture meter did not detect any sign of moisture on the framing at the time of inspection.

Take a look at this photo…

Look closely and you can see in the righthand image where the paint has changed colour, and in the lefthand image the infrared camera is dark in colour which indicates a change in temperature.

What’s going on here?

To start with, the home had not been painted with an elastomeric paint since built. Plaster houses should be painted by an approved applicator every 5 – 7 yrs. The reason you need an approved painter is so your paint manufactures warranty will be valid (The good painters warranty the work). EG. If Joe the painter down the road puts the wrong paint on top of the existing paint, then it could bubble up after a couple of years, especially on the sunny side of the house. You need someone who stands by their work and doesn’t run for the hills when you call with a workmanship issue.

In the above image, the resins in the paint have literally broken down and the water has soaked through the paint and into the cladding system… and therefore the paint can no longer adhere to the cladding. Even if your paint looks fine, it can ‘all of a sudden’ take a turn for the worse if you don’t maintain it. If there was no cavity behind this cladding, it could have really turned to custard for this home owner because the water would most likely find its way onto the framing.

In this case, the paint may need to be scrapped away from this area to dry out the cladding behind, otherwise if they paint directly over the area where moisture has already penetrated through, it will most likely with fail and discolour again.

Planning to get your home painted?

Get an infrared imaging scan for moisture first, then proceed to contact a certified applicator of paint onto plaster systems. The company you employ should also do the crack repairs and seal around the windows as part of the job.

Although we don’t do this type of repaint work ourselves (We only do the moisture testing and infrared inspections), feel free to call us and we can suggest a couple of experienced companies who specialise in this type of painting at a fair price, and further back their work with paint manufactures warranties in place. These are independent painters who do not form part of our company. Always get multiple quotes.

Which Type of Cladding Leaks the Most?

One of the most common questions I get asked, especially from first time home buyers wanting a building inspection:

“Which type of plaster cladding leaks the most?”

Let me get directly to the answer, based on inspecting over 1300 plaster houses at the time of writing this. It’s not very often that water physically gets through the plaster system when there are no cracks in the cladding.

Here are a few of the reasons why houses leak: (These causes can get worse with no cavity and untreated timber framing)

  • Where the cladding meets the window joinery it’s not flashed correctly causing water to get in behind the plaster, then further down in behind the building paper and onto the framing.
  • There are no head flashings above the window, letting water in around the top of the frame
  • Large cracks in the cladding allow water to soak through in behind cladding and possible through building paper penetrations.
  • Decks leak directly down into the wall and onto the timber framing
  • Internal gutters leak or butanol membranes fail from not lipping high enough up underneath doors/parapets and so on.
  • Water gets through fixings such as deck railings, nails and anything screwed through the cladding etc

There are plenty of other reasons that cause leaky buildings (or isolated leaks), but as you can see above that it’s not the actual plaster itself that leaks… it’s the workmanship and design of the home that is the problem. You could stand there all day with a hose and spray a large section of polystyrene or harditex cladding in an area where there are no windows, and it won’t leak directly through (Providing there aren’t any cracks). Even if there are cracks in areas away from windows, the water still needs to get past the building paper to penetrate the framing. Then… you could spend just 10 minutes spraying the nearest window and it might leak like crazy right away if it’s not sealed/flashed correctly or the window mitres have failed.

Other common opportunities for moisture to enter your walls which could cause you grief:

  • When your shower plumbing (such as the mixer) is up against an external wall. A slow drip in the plumbing will then proceed to fill your external wall framing with water every time the shower is used! It’s get worse if it’s on the top floor because gravity takes over and it fills up the lower level wall below it also. Nice!
  • If you get any condensation then you need to stop it asap. Not only does it cause unhealthy mould on curtains, it runs down the window and potentially rotting the sill (Which has a timber sill plate below it), or even worse the internal mitres on the window have failed and you wall is filling up with condensation water… even on those sunny days.
  • Shower screen leaks. If your shower is leaking water out the corners of the screen, then reseal it asap with a high quality sealant. We have seen many cases where home owners just think “It’s only a shower leak… no big deal“… well… it starts getting into the wall without you knowing and can become a real headache. Have you ever seen the gib board in the corners of your showers start to look like you could put your finger through it? Too late… the water is already in the bottom plate and possibly in behind the shower box itself.

Both home owners and buyers need to take care of the property they own or are buying, because it’s the small leaks that you already know about that turn into big decreases in your bank balance over time. Remember, if you can see visual evidence of moisture problems then it’s already too late in many cases.

Get a thermal imaging quick scan today and stay ontop of any pending disasters before they get out of hand! We give free quotes over the phone for these type of ‘peace of mind’ inspections, and it’s well worth it every time.

NZ Moisture Reports & Testing – Pre Purchase

Moisture Reports are Critical When Buying a Home!

A pre purchase property report for moisture detection is almost common place now in NZ. Buyers, sellers, lawyers, real estate agents and   even family and friends will all suggest getting the property tested for moisture with a report… normally a thermal imaging report for leaks also. Moisture inspections & reports on leaky homes, or potential leaky buildings will even be recommended by the banks now!

This website literally has 100’s of pages of information and photo’s of moisture problems, and general information about which homes are the most likely to leak. You could spend hours reading through this info! If after you finish reading the articles you don’t think a thermal scan and moisture report is worth your while, then maybe you should reconsider purchasing the property… especially if it was built between 1992 – 2004 . Older homes leak also… even if it has treated timber framing. You need to know Before purchasing.


Other things to consider is if the home has treated timber. Treated timber framing can still rot if enough water gets onto it… but it generally stays isolated to the general area where the leak and moisture is. We can now do a timber treatment test to determine if your home, or the home you are looking to purchase has treated framing in the external walls. Call and ask for a free quote.

If you rush to buy, or get pushed to buy, feel free to call us after you move in and find the first sign of a leak. The first question we will ask you is “Did you get a moisture test or thermal imaging report prior to purchasing?”. Ok, I think i’ve made the point. (Sorry, but i’ve inspected so many house now in NZ, and have seen just about every devastating scenario. As we don’t know each other, all I can do is warn you as best I can).

Electrical IR Survey on Siesmic Mapping Vessel

Our company continues to grow strongly in the electrical thermal imaging industry in New Zealand. We have imaged 1000’s of switchboards across NZ, namely in the agricultural, food production, cold storage, shipping and offshore oil sectors.

We were recently hired to complete the thermographic survey of a large vessel while in the process of siesmic mapping of the ocean floor off the east coast of the South Island, NZ in search for potential oil fields. For optimal results, all infrared surveys should be carried out under maximum load where possible, and in this situation the ship was in transit at the time of inspection. This also allows the ships engineers/electricians to switch over to back up systems so all associated electronics can be accurately infrared imaged during the same survey.

We are an experienced thermography company in NZ, qualified for infrared inspections on Switchboards and Mechanical Components in all types of facilities.

Here is a typical list of components we apply thermal imaging surveys to on ships, and all onshore operations:

  • Main Engines
  • Generators
  • Main Switchboards
  • Emergency Switch Gear
  • Main Propulsion Units
  • MCC Boards
  • Motor Junction Boxes
  • We carry out thermal imaging of all Distribution Boards, such as 24V, 230V, 400V, 440V… right up to 11KV and everything in between.
  • Infrared imaging of Transformers, Compressors, Automation, Motors, Propulsion Drives, Cabling etc.

If you are looking for a reliable infrared company in NZ with an excellent track record for providing prompt service at short notice, along with compliant thermal imaging reports accepted by insurance companies who now require AS/NZS 3019:2007 (electronic installations – Periodic Verification) standards, then call us today to discuss your project and a free quote over the phone based on requirements.

We are certified thermographers with current medicals, HUET, BOSIET and constantly updated infrared cameras and technology. Call today to find out more.

DIY Building Inspection Checklist

Are you looking for an ‘unofficial’ DIY building inspections checklist in NZ?

When you first inspect a house, you generally look at the property from an emotional point of view. That’s normal.

Following your first ’emotion’ inspection, you then need to look at the property with a ‘next step’ set of eyes. Take the list below with you and see if you can detect any initial ‘red flags‘ before you call in the profession inspectors!

NOTE: Do not make any purchase decisions based off this list, because it doesn’t include moisture testing procedures, or the experience of a qualified inspector. This list only serves as a guide to help you view the property from a different angle with areas to look at which you may not have thought of yourself. Always use a professional building inspection company prior to purchasing a house!


The Garden

  • Check the general condition of fences and gates. Is there any visual evidence of rot, bora etc?
  • Are there any large trees to close to the house? The root system of the trees could potentially cause structural cracks to the home , particularly in brick or veneer homes, and concrete slabs.
  • Are there any ‘sharp’ or ‘poisonous’ trees on the property that would be dangerous to kids?

Out-Buildings – Garages,  Sleep outs, Granny Flats

  • Does it look like the structural integrity off any external walls is sound? Any swollen skirting boards? Mould?
  • Look for low hanging wires, exposed wires around power points, any potential fire hazards?

Outside Walls

  • Carefully inspect the walls to ensure that they are straight. Stand at one end of the home and look down the line of the wall. In timber houses, sagging weatherboards could mean the timber piles supporting the home may have rotted, or concrete piles or brick piers have subsided.
  • Check for rotten weatherboards, window frames, doors and verandah posts. Sometimes weatherboards have been recently painted, but there is actually rot sitting under the thin coat of paint!
  • Thoroughly check for cracks in the mortar between the bricks. Also check to see if it’s crumbling away.
  • In the case of a brick house, check the weep holes between the bricks nearest to the ground are unblocked.
  • Take a look up at the soffits around the home. Are they mouldy, sagging or fitted incorrectly?

On the Roof

  • Lean your ladder against the guttering and look for a wavy roof line.
  • Look for broken roof tiles and loose ridge and valley tiles.
  • Check that corrugated iron sheets are in good condition and well nailed/screwed down.
  • Ensure that valley and eaves guttering are free from holes and rust. Even small holes can create large leaks.
  • Make sure that flues and chimneys are structurally safe and the flashings around them are secure.

Under Timber Floors

  • Look under the floor for props or bricks holding up the floor instead of stumps, piers or dwarf walls
  • With timber piles, look for piles with the heaviest water stain.
  • Inspect timber framing and floors generally for rot, mould and evidence of bora.
  • Check to see that the ground is not excessively wet. This can case rising damp.
  • If you are in any way unsure about bora, the house should be checked by a specialist.

In the Roof Space

  • Look for sagging roof framing, cracked or broken tiles, rusty iron roofing and leaking ridges or valleys.
  • Check for shoddy or damaged electrical wiring. Do not touch!
  • A pungent odour or rat-like droppings could indicate the presence of vermin.
  • Note whether or not the ceiling has been insulated. What type of insulation.. pink batts, spray insulation?

Concrete Floors

  • Although the underside of the concrete floors cannot be inspected check if there is any exposed perimeter to ensure that the plastic waterproofing membrane is not exposed.


These checks should be carried out in each room of the house.

Timber Floors

  • At regular intervals, jump lightly on the floor to detect any rotten floorboards, borer infestation or looseness in the floor framing.
  • Check to see if the floors are level, or there are gaps between floor and skirting. If piles or piers are sinking, floors will always fall away from fireplaces or brick walls.

Concrete Floors

  • Look for signs of dampness, such as lifting or buckling floor tiles and rotten carpet.
  • Ducted heated systems are millimeters wide, they could indicate a significant structural problem.


  • Check that walls are straight and true.
  • Look for cracks and general movement and be particularly wary of freshly painted or wallpapered areas. Any signs of leaks?
  • Carefully inspect brick walls for signs of dampness.
  • Tap solid brick walls for a hollow sound or a change in tone.
  • Look for cracks beside chimneys and look for doorways and windows that aren’t square, or are jamming.
  • Lightly tap walls and tiled surfaces with the handle of your screwdriver.
  • Look at all skirting boards. Is there any swelling consistent with moisture damage?
  • Is there a cavity system behind the wall, or is the external cladding fixed directly onto the timber frame?


  • Check that ceilings are straight and true, and look for cracks or signs of movement at the cornices.
  • Look for water stains and mould growth which could indicate excessive condensation, roof leaks or missing insulation.

Windows and Ventilators

  • Make sure that windows can be opened and check for broken window panes.
  • Check for excessive condensation and mould growth on windows and walls. Look at the back of curtains for mould… this would indicate the room condensates, therefore it may be a damp room.
  • Are the windows single glazed, or double glazed?
  • Any rot on the window sills?

Electrical Systems

  • Check that the light switches and power points work.
  • Test all power points with the tester.
  • If you are at all in doubt about the condition of the electrical system, you should have it checked by a qualified electrician or thermal imaging.

Plumbing Systems

  • Check all plumbing fittings for cracks or leaks.
  • Test the water pressure in hot and cold taps.
  • Partially fill the bath or laundry tubs and observe whether or not the water drains away properly.
  • Look for damp ground in the vicinity of the drains.
  • Check for dampness and soft soil where down pipes meet the ground.


Examine the house for appropriate room layout, orientation to the sun, views, relation to neighbours, traffic noise, and if not optimal, whether the house can be improved at an affordable cost.

Renovations and Extensions

If the house has recently been renovated, or if extensions have been carried out, check with the local Council to ensure that a CCC was obtained. Illegal alterations could become your responsibility, particularly if they contravene the building regulations. Some older homes had extensions built in the 90’s and early 2000’s when they used alot of untreated timber framing. Untreated timber can rot fast if exposed to any moisture.

If you are buying with a view to doing extensions in the future, check Council requirements for set-back distances, maximum site coverage and restrictions on types of construction. You may need to seek professional advice.

If you require a moisture test on the home, call us for a free quote!

Inbuilt House Vacuum Cleaning System Leak

Some houses have an inbuilt vacuum cleaner system behind the walls, with the main suction unit in the garage or storage area. If the suction pressure of the vacuum cleaner falls away, how do you find out where the air is escaping?

Recently we were called out to a job where the contracted installers of the system had an air leak issue that they couldn’t detect, causing a reduction in suction and general performance of the system by 25%.

What other options did they try to find the leak before calling us?

• They replaced the original suction unit to make sure that wasn’t the problem, and the new one had the same fall in pressure.
• They stuck a snake camera right up the vacuum pipe to see if there were any screws or nails penetrating the pipe from a recent home renovation. The main issue with this option is you can’t get the camera to snake around every different pipe because there were offshoots of piping to each individual outlet off the main pipe.
• They had listened closely with their ear up against the wall in many areas to detect a potential ‘hissing’ sound where air could be escaping. No luck there either.

After spending literally hours in travel time, changing units over , hiring cameras to go up the pipe, lots of frustration etc, we came in with the thermal imaging camera and detected a ‘hot spot’ on the internal wall lining within 15 minutes.

How did we detect a hot spot when there is no hot air in a household vacuum cleaner?

We blocked all the vacuum outlet holes in each room, then pumped hot air into the network of pipes from the main suction unit. Due to the close proximity of the internal vacuum pipes to the internal wall gib board/plasterboard lining, it was easy to detect the hot air leak using our infrared thermal imaging cameras. This is because the pressurized hot air was coming out of the breach in the pipe and hitting the wall lining.

Our IR cameras are very sensitive and detect down to 0.10 of a degree, therefore where the hot air was hitting the back of the wall was a different temperature to the rest of the wall. Easy work for the infrared camera. Job done!

If you have an issue with a similar type leak, and there are no certified thermographers in your area

Cool Store Nitrogen Leak Detected with Infrared

We were recently hired to detect a nitrogen leak in a cold store using the infrared thermal imaging camera. The purpose of this cool room was to slow the process of fruit ripening.

How does the system work? They pump nitrogen into the coolroom which then pushes oxygen out to reduce the speed of the produce in the room ripening. These nitrogen levels are monitored daily to ensure there isn’t a drop in the amount of nitrogen required at all times.

Taking into account the oxygen is getting pushed out of the room at a very low temperature, we inspected the external walls from the outside (from an enclosed walkway area) , which allowed us to clearly see where the oxygen was escaping. The reason the infrared camera could pick up the leak so quickly, was because the cold air escaping was blowing onto a much warmer external wall.

It turns out some of the roof bracings which extended from the walkway roof across to the cool room roof were not sealed at the top of the coolstore external wall.

If you’ve been wondering how to detect a nitrogen leak without cutting holes in walls, or aren’t sure if there’s a breach in the pipe work feeding the room, give us a call. We have the right infrared cameras for the job, and can produce a report if required which would include all infrared images etc.

Concrete Crack Repair Services NZ


Do you have cracks in your concrete slab?

Quite often home owners and commercial building owners will notice cracks starting to appear in the concrete slab, and quite often water will start to seep up through the crack, further causing a leak.

What Causes Concrete to Crack?

There are various potential reasons why you will get both hairline and large cracks in concrete. Some of these reasons are;

  • Heavy trucks or construction work very close to your home
  • Possible burst water pipe underneath the area
  • Slight settlement of the ground (Especially newer homes)
  • Subsidence of the dirt under the area that is saturated with water 

Most cracks in concrete are found in basements and external masonary walls.

How do you repair crack in concrete?

There are simple repair methods, solutions and services available in NZ that use long lasting filler materials & technology to fill the cracks and prevent water entering your building envelope, and makes sure the crack is sealed to prevent any further leaking and water ingress.

If you are stuggling to find a reputable company to undertake your concrete leak detection & repairs, give us a call.