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.

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).

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!


Radio Recording for Thermal Imaging Inspections

We have built a strong & credible name in the NZ house inspection & infrared thermal imaging industry over the years. If fact, Google have placed us as #1 in their rankings for the above topics…  hence why you have landed on the most comprehensive leaky building inspection website in NZ. 

We have uploaded a recent recording of an advertorial we recently did on Newstalk ZB so you can put a ‘voice’ to our name:

Listen Here (Runs for 1.5 minutes)

We have been thermal imaging houses for years, and also offering leak detection services for those home owners who have a leak they can’t find, or are worried they could potentially buy themselves a home with leaking problems.

Call us first… you’ll get the best quote, prompt service, and most importantly – experience. We offer guaranteed free quotes over the phone! (Our quotes don’t change once we turn up to the job).


Even Newstalk ZB’s DIY Home Renovation Expert Peter Wolfkamp Has Used Our Services, and Recommends Us Live Online – Listen Here (Runs for 30 seconds)


Winter Leak Detection House Inspections

Is Winter a Good Time for A Leaky Home Inspection?

It goes without saying… if you are buying a home, it’s MUCH better if it’s been raining. A thermal imaging building inspection will clearly show leaks within a week of heavy rain. It’s only logical to test the house for leaks under the worst possible weather conditions… particulary for roof, deck and window leaks. 

Leak detection services in NZ will vary in results depending on the type of equipment used during the home inspection. It’s important to understand that thermal imaging cameras are excellent for detecting leaks on ceilings, under decks, roofs, back of showers and under windows, whilst moisture meters are the best method for testing for moisture problems in external walls.

What if it hasn’t rained for a few weeks, is it still possible to find moisture in walls?

Yes. In NZ, the typical homes we get hired to test for moisture are plaster systems with no cavity system. If the home has no cavity, then the moisture and condensation gets trapped behind the walls and soaks into the timber framing and insulation. The moisture testing meters we use are highly sensitive and will detect the slightest change in timber and gib board density caused by higher levels of moisture.

What about roof leaks after no rain?

It is true that a roof leak that hasn’t found it’s way into an external wall may go undetected in summer months… but the good news is that a roof leak is generally easy to fix, and it’s the least harmful type of leak that can be found in a home (As long as it hasn’t travelled into an external wall). Generally, if the leak was that severe you would see visual signs of damage or discolouration on the ceiling.

The insulation batts may be wet also… but if you have a pitched roof, you can crawl through the manhole and substitute the wet insulation with new batts. If it’s a mono pitched roof (Can’t crawl inside), then you can either fix the source of the leak and let it dry out, otherwise if it’s showing on the gib board you can open up the ceiling and take out the saturated insulation. Not such a big deal considering there is moisture damage to the ceiling anyway.

In summary, winter is an excellent time for thermal imaging inspections and general leak detection investigations. Summer is normally fine for moisture inspections, unless it hasn’t rained for over 3 weeks or so. Don’t rush your property purchase if you feel the place could be leaking and it hasn’t rained for some time. Give us a call if your aren’t sure if the timing is right for you.

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.

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!