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.

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!

9 Common Signs of a Leaky Home

What are the initial ‘red flag’ signs to look out for when buying a plaster home in NZ?

Not all plaster homes leak, but some have a higher probability of leaking based on design.

Here are the 9 most common design faults that have contributed to the leaky building problem in NZ. Match number on diagram below…

  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

If you are unsure what you’re getting yourself into when buying a home in NZ, let us inspect the house for you. We have detected many leaking problems in homes… so get experience on your side today!

(Thanks to the NZ government website for the above diagram)

Insider Tips for Home Buyers & Sellers

Where are all the leaky homes located?

Save $20 on your first inspection…

We inspect homes everyday in NZ, and through experience we have learn’t all the strategies & tactics used in the property market. We see some really smart ideas used, and also some very borderline methods! You need to know.

FREE – Join NZ’s first ‘insider’ newsletter written by an independant property inspector!

Why should you join NZ’s best home owners newsletter right now, for free:

  • To start with, you will get a $20 discount on your first inspection with us, PLUS valuable information about the 9 most common traits of a leaky home… we email this to you in the next 2 minutes.
  • We are working on the inside of the real estate market everyday, and get to see all kinds of ‘interesting’ things you probably don’t. You will get updates on anything interesting we come across! (Even the revealing stuff that will make you laugh… and learn from).
  • What are the common ‘pick up lines’ agents use? (Lines used to ‘pick up’ a deal we mean!)
  • We will update all home owners with cutting edge information to help improve the value of their home.
  • We have the ability to negotiate big discounts on home services due to our large database. You get these emails & offers sent to you as they become available.
  • What are the tricks home sellers use on you?

Note: Our newsletter does not breach the privacy act at any stage.

Simply put your first name & email into the box below, and we’ll immediately email you a discount voucher on your first inspection.


 New Offer – Get Your $20 Thermal Imaging or Leak Detection Voucher Here!


Leaky Home & Building Inspections

We specialise in leak inspections in all types of homes, including leaky building inspections.

After detecting literally 1000’s of leaks in NZ home over the years, there is very little we haven’t seen when it comes to sourcing a leak.

Although many inspections for leaks come down to logic, other times you simply can’t pinpoint the area without the right a equipment. Our website name says it all… FINDALEAK… that is all we do!

Don’t let moisture ingress and rot set into your house. If you suspect there is water in your house, or smell a damp or musty smell, one of our leak inspections could work out to be cheaper and more efficient than you think. We’ve been doing this for years, so no doubt we can help you also. Free quotes over the phone!

Pre-Rental House Inspections

Why would you get a leak inspection prior to renting a house?

It has recently come to our attention that many rental properties are being letted out to tenants with leaking problems, without notifing the tenant first. Just this week, we’ve have around 8 calls from tenants indicating they could be living in a leaky home, and are worried about the health problems associated with leaky buildings. In particular, black mould spores on the back of curtains and behind walls. Not healthy for children. Click here if the home you live in has  mould on the curtains.

One call we had from a tenant was regarding a landlord who refuses to fix a leak behind a shower. Not only is this unhealthy to the tenants (and potentially raising their power bill if it’s hot water pipe leak), but the wall will be rotting away under the term ‘gradual leak damage’.

We can provide you a moisture report before renting a house, especially if someone in your family suffers from allergies. Better to be safe than sorry!

Give us a call for a free quote. We can even do a verbal inspection and leak test without a report which is the cheaper option, but the results are the same… just without the reporting.

Current NZ Building Code Handbook Online

Are you building, renovating, buying a house or touching structural eliments of a building envelope in NZ?

You can now access the current copy of the NZ building code act below, to determine if the work you are about to undertake (or to clarify an existing situation you would like know about), is in compliance with what the current building acts states.

A building design that complies with a Compliance Document must be in line and comply with the related Building Code provisions for the type of work being undertaken in order to be signed off.

If you are buying a house, most pre-purchase building inspectors with assess a home to the current building act.

If you are looking for alternative solutions to comply with the building code, or having issues complying with the code for already completed work, you can read more about the process to comply HERE…

For readers of this website, here are some fast links to particular areas of the  NZ building code you may be interested in:

Read the Whole Code Here

Throughout the document, you can search for and find the various rules & building code for: Bathrooms, Balustrades, Decks, Drainage, Definitions, Dryers, Earthquakes, Stairs, Toilets, Sheds, Fences,  Handrails, Carports, Fire Places, Handrails & Heights, Joist Spans and Hangers, For Kitchens, Lighting, Plumbing, Pool Fences, Parking, Retaining Walls, Roof, Ramps, Range Hoods, Smoke Detectors, Steps, Toilets, Ventilation, Wall Insulation, Water Heaters, Windows (Existing and Double Glazed), Water Pressure, and general New Zealand building code inspection requirements.

Options for Fixing and Selling a Leaky Home

Options for Fixing & Selling a Leaky Home

There are so many home owners that either know they have a leaky home (and a leaking bank balance as a result), or they are worried they live in one and aren’t sure how to find out. The other portion of people have their head in the sand and don’t want to know.

For the ‘head in the sand’ home owners:

Just because you’ve seen one small area in the house that looks like a leak is showing itself, it certainly doesn’t mean the rest of the home is leaking. In fact, it could only be a minor joinery issue in that one window, or a flashing failure at a junction in one small area that has caused the issue. It could be something as minor as ‘movement’ that has caused the ‘problem’ and it’s a simple fix. Yes, you may need to replace some timber frame in that area, but that’s very simple for a builder to do a target fix… it’s quick and easy in some cases! Just put a quick call into the council before you touch your home structurally, as rules may vary in different areas.

Do you think about it all the time? … “I hope this isn’t a leaky home?”. The annoyance of wondering all the time can be sorted out within a couple of hours with a quick moisture test. Maybe your partner keeps harping on about it, and that’s annoying you also? (We hear of this situation all the time!). For the sake of a few hundred dollars, you can get it looked at from a non-biased point of view from a company that doesn’t sell recladding services or building repair work, and has been in the business of moisture testing for years. That’s right, we don’t sell you anything at the end of the inspection.

Got a leak you can see?

Before you hit any panic buttons, or your hair turns grey at the thought of it, why not get someone around to open up that section of wall to take a look. Usually a builder can open a section of gib board within 15 minutes and this allows you to get a direct look at the timber. 50% of the time the actual structural integrity of the timber frame behind the wall is Ok, but there is moisture in the insulation and possibly some black mould on the timber.

Before you do open up your walls (sounds daunting, but it’s not), get a leak test done just in case a similar area on another section of wall has the same issue. This will allow the builder to explore those areas at the same time, which will save you money.

We’ve had cases where the home owner was sure they lived in a leaky home and wanted to sell it, but it was only a few windows leaking and the issues were sorted out real quick from the internal side without touching the cladding or taking out windows!

Options for fixing a leaky home:

This is a case by case basis, but as of 2011, there now ways to repair target areas of a leaky home without having to get a reclad… and the council will be happy with it. We can put you in touch with a company that states they have approval from the council to treat timber without recladding!

How to Sell a Leaky Building

How to Sell a Leaky Building

Our core business in detecting signs of leaky buildings for buyers, sellers and builders who are in the business of carrying out remedial work (Pre renovation inspections). When your testing houses for moisture on a daily basis as a business, you come across some interesting scenarios… and some creative solutions to problems!

Frustrated Plaster Home Owner Sells House Fast!!

Interesting story: How frustrating do you think it would be if the potential buyer of your property hired a building inspector who then went on to detect leaking problems in your external walls… only to find out once the wall was opened up for further investigation, there is no signs of moisture anywhere?

Well… we recently tested a house on the North Shore where this exact scenario happened, but in this case the home owner replaced the gib board after finding out no problems existed behind the wall after the 1st building inspection had detected problems. He then did a nice plaster & paint job ready to sell the home all over again… but this time with certainty it’s not a leaky building.

What happens next? A new buyer comes along with their building inspection company and moisture testing guy, only to get the same high 20%+ moisture reading. Another sale down the drain… and the timber frame isn’t even wet!

How did he end up selling the house?

Through pure frustration, he ripped off all the gib board and pulled out the insulation and left it like that!!! The very next potential buyer ended up buying the home for the asking price. Why? Because they could physically see the timber frame wasn’t rotted, therefore they felt certain they had avoided buying a leaky building, regardless of all the negative publicity in the media about the common problems with plaster cladding systems. The deal was that the home owner would re-gib, plaster and paint before the new owners took possession once the deal was unconditional. Not a bad tactic hey?

This is not a common method to sell a plaster house, but it worked well is this case. Unfortunately, these are the lengths some sellers who own plaster homes have to go to, but that’s all part of the property ‘game’ isn’t it? SOLD!

Buying at Auction Costs & Tips

Are you buying at action?

Sadly, many people get ‘caught out’ at auctions in NZ because they don’t know what to look out for.

It’s almost sickening how many properties we end up moisture testing in NZ for clients who ‘just purchased’ at an auction, only to move into the house and find signs of leaks (most of which were hidden under carpet and behind furniture etc). Most of them ‘thought’ the house looked fine from what they could see… before they purchased the house. In addtion, they thought they got a good deal!! I wonder why?

Basic buying at auction costs and tips:

Is getting a thermal imaging leak inspection a cost, and money I could potentially loose before an auction ? Yes it is… but don’t miss this step! It’s AMAZING how many times clients say to me “We didn’t want to pay for an inspection incase we didn’t win the auction”. Just plain silly thinking don’t you think? Absolutely.

99% of my clients have it written into their property contract to get a building inspection and/or moisture test prior to buying the house, so why wouldn’t you do the same in an auction scenario?

What should you look for prior to buying at auction? (From a leak detective’s point of view)

  • Look for swollen skirting boards
  • Look for discoloured carpet grip in the corners under the carpet. This will most likely mean a leak is coming in from somewhere
  • Look for any visual signs of joinery failures
  • Look for any bubbling of paintwork under windows, on ceiling, in bathrooms and on just about every surface of internal and  external walls
  • Cracks in cladding and around windows
  • Lack of ground clearence
  • Any leaks around plumbing, such as under sinks and in the corners of shower screens.

These tips listed above are only a hand full of what to look for in your initial ‘visual’ inspection. The next step is to get an experienced thermal imaging company to take a look using infrared technology to detect issues you will not see, like these ones… coupled with experience in moisture testing nz houses.

Do not buy at auction until you are 110% sure there are no moisture issues in the house… and we say this with certainty after seeing so many home buyers getting caught out buying lemons. If anything, we can do a verbal inspection for you (no report), which is cheaper and will give you certainty when you buy. If you are happy with the inspection results and win the auction, you can then request a report for a small fee.