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.

Leaky Home Inspection Services & Solutions

If you are looking for leaky home inspection services in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch (NZ Wide), then choose carefully.

We get calls from all over NZ from plaster home owners and buyers who ask us lots of questions about what’s involved with a leaky home inspection. There are so many companies offering all kinds of leaky home inspection services and solutions that it starts to become confusing on who to employ to carry out the work!

If you own a home, and you suspect it ‘could’ be a leaky home or you just want a peace of mind either way, then ask yourself this… would you prefer to hire a company who offers leaky home repair solutions to inspect your house? Or a completely independent service provider who has no vested interest in making money from ‘back end’ leaky building repair opportunities on your home?

The second option is the logical answer… and then once you know if you are living in a leaky home, then get quotes from leak building repair solution companies as step 2, after the leaky home report comes through from an independant building inspection company.

There have been cases where some companies who offer leaky home inspection services will do the leak and moisture test at a ‘dirt cheap’ price, knowing perfectly well they will do the ‘hard sell’ at the other end of the inspection. So the actual prices of home inspections will vary from company to company… especially between Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and the smaller towns that surround them.

Take the time to research the best inspection company in your area, and choose and/or interview a few different inspectors to get a feel for their knowledge and experience with the type of house in question.

The above information also applies to commercial leaky building inspection services.

Can a House With a Cavity System Leak?

Here’s an interesting question that we get asked alot…

“Can a house built with a cavity system and treated timber framing leak?” Yes it can.

Please be aware that all homes leak at some stage… both brand new and old homes. You can either have internal or external leaking problems in the home, no matter what year it was built, and if it has a cavity or not.

Here’s an example of both types…

Internal:  Some new builds will leak the very first time a tap is turned on. We have been called out to plenty of jobs where a plumber hasn’t joined/glued a pipe correctly behind the wall and water has saturated carpets and external walls directly onto the treated timber framing (Normally H1.2 or above).

External: Recently we inspected a house in Albany, Auckland using thermal imaging and moisture testing equipment. The house was signed off in 2008 and had a 40mm polystyrene cladding on a 20mm cavity. The potential buyer was confident the home should be fine because it was required to have a cavity and treated timber. Wrong! The window joinery had failed and the timber frame was absolutely saturated in some sections of external wall.

How can a new home leak? When the weather turns from hot to cold, you then get expansion and contraction within the building envelope… and ‘things’ move and settle… and this can cause problems. The house itself also needs to settle and slight movement can take place… and then of course you have sub standard tradespeople who didn’t pay attention to details such as sealing off area where water can get into the walls… especially with wind driven rain! All these little factors combined can add up to some serious water damage to the property (Preferrably not your house, or the one you’re about to buy).

If you are prepared to spend anywhere from $1 – $ 1,000,000+ on a property, then you should get a leak test done regardless of the price tag and year it was built. Even if we aren’t the company you select to do the job, get it done regardless of the situation… for your own peace of mind (Read this first before selecting any other company).

When it comes to buying a house and pre-purchase inspections etc, the reality is that we are in New Zealand and it rains alot (We wouldn’t be having this conversation if you were looking at a home in the Mojave Desert)… where there is rain, there are leaks. It’s your risk at the end of the day, so we can only tell you about our past experiences with home buyers getting absolutely stung… and plenty of them have been people with experience in the real estate game.

What to Look For When Buying a House

Another ‘annoying’ story for you about a house I inspected in Wellington that leaked… but not according the structural building inspection company!

This is the 2nd home we’ve inspected for moisture in Wellington recently where the previous building inspector must have been wearing a patch over one eye. Some very basic telltale signs of leaking were visually evident, yet the inspector didn’t note ANY of them on his report! In addition, the buyer went ahead and purchased the ‘leaking home’ (not leaky home).

To their credit, the report said they didn’t moisture test the house… but no fancy leak detection equipment or methods where needed here… just normal eye site.

Here’s a sample what was missing in their inspection report:

  • Wooden doors extended right down and touched the deck (no ground clearance). There was severe rot in the bottom of the door due to the water soaking back up the frame. No mention of this in the report
  • Two splits in the butanol decking over the top of a room were not identified. We detected these leaks on the ceiling of the rooms below using infrared cameras. No mention of these splits in the report
  • HUGE CRACKS all over cladding that could be seen from two houses away… no mention in the report (Crazy). Cracks in plaster cladding could mean moisture ingress issues. The problem was the inspector assumed all walls to be block, but some sections of the wall were hardiflex that blended in with the rest of the cladding. He only needed to tap on the wall to find out what type of cladding was used!
  • ‘Bogged up’ door jams due to leak damage around the door frame.
  • There was a bench seat running along the width of one of the windows below sill level. The top of the seat flapped open with storage room underneath it. There was moist swollen particle board under the hatch… did he even look in there? It wasn’t on his report. Normally we don’t look under seats like this, but when it’s up against an external wall with cracks in the cladding, then any ‘logical’ professional building inspection company in Wellington (or anywhere) should be looking underneath these areas.
  • Rotted floor boards around the base of one door… moisture damage again with no mention in his building inspection reporting.

As mentioned above, the leaking deck that was dripping onto the ceiling underneath could only be seen with the thermal imaging camera… the owner couldn’t believe what I could see that he (or the inspector) couldn’t!

So when you’re thinking about all the different things to consider when buying a house, or what to look for when purchasing a property… then consider using our professional NZ wide infrared thermal imaging services… from Whangarei to Invercargill and everywhere inbetween!

Confidentiality of Leaky Building Inspection Reports

Are you worried about what the thermal leak detection results may show up during an inspection of your home?

Put your worries to rest…

Confidentiality issues for leaky building, or standard home inspection reports can be a worry for many home owners… and rightly so. If you would rather keep your head in the sand and not get your home tested due to the fear of unfavourable results, then read on… you might change your mind.

Yesterday I got a call from a home owner asking if my infrared inspection reports are kept confidential. The answer is 110% yes. Out of curiousity, I then asked what made him ask that question. He stated…

“We had an inspection 2 yrs ago, and the inspector found two leaks that he felt needed attention. 1 hour later we got two unsolicited phone calls from building companies offering to fix the problems!”

Not good. This means the inspector revealed the issues detected in the home to a 3rd party without permission from the vendor.

The way we handle all building inspections is simple, private and discreet between yourself and us. We do a written report that gets sent to you only… not to repair companies, not to real estate agents or solicitors, and certainly not to the council. Some home owners will ask us to send  the report to 3rd parties, but we refuse to do this for privacy purposes and avoid getting caught up in confidentiality issues down the track.

We respect the fact your home is your biggest asset, and the last thing you need is other people who have ‘nothing to do with it’ knowing your property needs remedial work, be it a minor leak or a reclad. What you do with our report after you receive it is entirely up to you of course.

One option some vendors take is a verbal ‘Quick Scan’, which means nothing is put in writing… further assuring the home owner there is no negative report floating around in ‘cyberspace’ outside of their control. Quick Scans are also cheaper because time has been saved on the report writing component of the inspection.

How to Interpret Building Inspection Reports

Are you confused with your building inspection report?

Do you actually understand what your property inspection results mean?

There are some very good building inspection companies in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch (and everywhere in between), but the reports some inspectors supply can sometimes confuse the buyer with ‘builders’ terminology that you may not understand.

Normally you would call the building inspector with questions, but if they aren’t available for whatever reason, and you want to know right now what they are talking about in the report, then take a look at the glossary of building terminology at the link below for a possible explaination.

For example: If your report says “The leak captured in this thermal imaging report above master bedroom window could be due to a missing head flashing, or miter joint failure in window on 2nd floor directly above this area”… do you actually know what this means?

Here’s a glossary of terms used by builders and home inspection companies:

Interpret Building Terminology Here

The ‘complexity’ of our infrared leaky building inspection reports are written in accordance to the buyers level of building knowledge. If you know nothing about how a house is built, or aren’t sure what certain parts of the home are called, then you will still be able to interpret our reports.

Should I Use the Building Inspector Which My Real Estate Agents Refers?

The process of buying a home in NZ is not as easy as it appears, so if you are in the market to buy a property, you might like to read this!

If you like a particular home and get your offer accepted, should you hire a building inspection company which the real estate agent recommends?

Well… if you ask the client that I did a building moisture inspection for yesterday, then he’ll tell you a big NO! Here’s what happened…

To start with, let me say that the good real estate agents will always suggest getting a building and moisture inspection anyway, for your sake and their reputation.  But, if they go on and give you the name of an building consultant to do the inspection, then be careful. Most inspectors will do the right thing either way… but like in any industry, there’s the odd ‘loose cannon’ who simply needs to make a dollar fast. That’s not who you want to hire.

My client purchased a monolithic cladding townhouse, and the inspector ‘verbally’ told the client that there was no need for a moisture test on the home because the paintwork was in good condition. Are you kidding me! Any building inspection company in NZ should know that these types of buildings could be leaky buildings. In my opinion, the building inspector is asking for trouble telling people no moisture test in needed with plaster homes.

Even if the paintwork looks good (He also failed to see a very large crack in the cladding), you can still have window joinery failures which lets water down into the wall and onto the timber. And guess what? That’s exactly what happened in this case.

Due to the fact the builder/building inspector ‘verbally’ said not to worry about it, then the buyer has no real come back because  it’s not in writing… and second to that, the new home owner was beginning to wonder if the inspector and real estate agent were working in together, because the buyer wasn’t there through any of this process… it was all  ‘organised’ through the agent.

The end result was that I found moisture IN THE UNTREATED TIMBER under one of the windows, and it extended right down the timber stud to the bottom plate. Although this area was isolated and it shouldn’t cost much to fix, it’s still something you need to know prior to purchasing.

Always choose an inspector who offers a non-biased opinion… be it a structural building inspection, or an infrared thermal imaging test.

Building & Thermal House Inspections

Should you get an infrared building inspection BEFORE a structural inspection?

Once our clients see how effective thermal imaging is, they often say “We’ll never buy a home again without infrared testing first“. Quite often deals will not go through after a moisture test. So why would you spend money on a structural building inspection if the moisture test doesn’t stack up? If you get a building inspection first, then you’ll still need infrared, because we see what most home inspection companies don’t see!

infrared thermal imaging

Infrared Thermal Imaging & Moisture Inspection:

Dean is a certified level 1 thermographer to ASTM standards. The focus of the moisture inspection is the interior of the property. Dean uses a high tech thermal imaging camera to detect evidence of moisture ingress and heat loss in all rooms of the home, followed by a secondary thorough check with a non-invasive moisture meter. Dean will check from top to bottom of all walls, around windows, toilets and any wet areas in the home for signs of moisture ingress or leaks. Buying a home in NZ without a moisture test could be a costly mistake!

Next Step:

Call for a quote on our new low cost, high quality ‘top to bottom’ building moisture inspection package. We can do either verbal or written reports… depending on the nature of the inspection.

Let us put your home (or future home) through it’s paces!!

Free Quotes Here

More about Dean

Building Envelope Energy Loss Inspections

Our company is certified to conduct building envelope energy loss inspections using thermal imaging – including…
• Insulation & material characteristics
• Home Inspection Processes
• Weather variables and models that effect inspections
• Required site conditions
• Pre-inspection procedures
• Conduction losses by insufficient, missing, damaged or improperly-installed insulation: (Weather variables and influences & thermal signatures)
• Convection losses by uncontrolled air movement (Natural and forced convection, thermal signatures & pressurization/depressurization techniques)
• Guidelines for inspection

Small gaps in your insulation can dramatically increase your home energy bill! Here’s a photo of missing insulation…

Contact us today for a thermal imaging heat loss audit today!

What is a Thermal Imaging Building Inspection?

If you’re interested in getting a thermal imaging ‘building envelope’ inspection on your home, it’s important that you have a small understanding of how thermal imaging works and what you’re actually getting for your money. Here’s what’s actually happening in the pictures you see on this website…

Everything you see around you (objects), be it a wall, car, wood, heater, fridge (everything) has a certain temperature and they all emit waves of energy called ‘infrared radiation’ (IR). The hotter the object, the more energy it emits. A thermal imaging camera translates these energy waves into a viewable image, which shows a “heat picture” of the object the camera is pointing towards at the time. On the actual screen of our thermal imaging camera, hotter objects show as white, cooler objects show as black, and objects in between these temperatures show up as a gray.

Here’s an example of how thermal imaging can be used outside of building inspections: Firefighters can use thermal imaging cameras to see right through smoke, as the infrared radiation that’s being emitted from ‘hot spots’ can not be blocked by smoke. This enables them to find victims faster, identify the seat of the fire earlier, detect areas that may still have a fire burning underneath rubble that they can’t see, and detect areas of structural danger and damage to the building envelope.

The actual detector we use within our thermal imaging cameras are somewhat similar to the human eye, and are very sensitive. The TI’s detector (called a focal plane array, or FPA) and the eye are both receivers. They receive electromagnetic energy and convert it into an image for our brains to interpret. The eye receives wavelengths of energy called “visible light,” while the FPA (the detector on our camera) receives wavelengths of heat energy called “infrared.”

Technically speaking, no thermal imaging camera can actually ‘see through’ solid materials. For example, in New Zealand most homes will be either build or contain at least one of the following ‘objects’ – drywall, plaster, concrete, steel, wood, paneling, down comforters, doors, sofas and the like… and non of these objects are actually ‘transparent’ to infrared. Our IR cameras can only “see” the temperature difference on any given surface.

The slightest of temperature differences on the walls in your home will show up in our cameras. EG. If you walk up to a wall in your home and place your hand flat and leave it there for 5 seconds then pull it away, the image through our camera screen will see a perfect hand shape… exactly like you would have seen had you put your hand in black paint and put it on a white wall (or vica versa depending on which object is warmer/cooler at the time). When water leaks behind your wall, it affects the surface temperature of the wall in the area of the water leak… hence why our camera will see it right away. It’s the same with air penetration through your insulation… the cool/warm air will blow onto the back on the wall… hence affecting the temperature on the surface of the wall.

It’s the air leaks, water leaks and mold growth you can’t see with the human eye that can make your ‘relaxation time’ at home very uncomfortable. We specialise in the detection of any problematic areas … usually within minutes in most cases, and totally non-invasive.

Contact us today for a infrared scan of your home!