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.

Should I Reclad My Plaster Home?

We get a variety of valid questions from plaster home owners during building inspections. Some of these questions come from a ‘slightly worried’ mindset about the cladding on their home, and what the public perception is about plaster cladding systems.

Should you reclad your home, even if it’s not leaking?

The short answer is “No”. You don’t need to reclad unless the home is so far rotted that the toxic black mould is a health hazard, or the rot is causing structural integrity problems. Most homes have targeted areas that are leaking that need to be repaired… both the leak source and any damage caused as a result of the leak or moisture ingress.

There have been cases in NZ where reclad companies have convinced the property owner it’s a leaky home and needs to be reclad, only to find once the cladding is removed the timber frame is perfectly OK around the majority of the home.

 It’s true that recladding a house does increase the overall value of the home, but are you over capitalising?

How much does it cost to reclad a plaster house in NZ?

This will vary from company to company, but let us say for the purposes of this exercise that it will be $750 per square meter of floor area. For example, your home might be 200sqm, therefore it could cost $150,000.

Should I ‘bite the bullet’ and just reclad the home anyway?

If you plan to stay in the home long term, from our experience, the home owner will simply fix the detected leaks and subsequent damage… then maintain the home properly to avoid the same mistake in the future.

If you plan to sell, then you would need to ‘run the numbers’ and determine if it’s all worth it. If you spend $150k, will you get more than that back with the upgrade, or will you only break even on the deal after the process of moving out, paying fee’s here and there, stressing out, having the reclad all over your LIM report etc etc.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to numbers. Some builders buy leaky homes as a business… but normally from the price of the land only. When they slice the home open, some of them find it wasn’t so bad after all and go on to make a handsome profit.

It’s true that you automatically get thrown into the ‘potential leaky home’ basket, even if your home isn’t leaking… so work through every ‘numbers’ scenario you can. Maybe get a couple of free quotes from recladding services and you’ll possibly find it’s actually a good option to reclad in weatherboard… the cladding most Kiwi’s feel comfortable with and trust.

Keep in mind that you may need consent to do target repairs.

First… you need to know if it’s leaking or not! We can help you in that area from a non-biased point of view, as we don’t sell repair or recladding services at the end of the job.

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)

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)


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!

Moisture Detection Companies and Services NZ

With the leaky building crisis in full swing, and the building industry slowing down again, there is now a glut of new building inspection and moisture detection companies entering the market.

How do you know who the ‘newly registered’ home inspection companies are in the past year or so? Simple. Just go to the companies office website and do a search for their company name… that’s the fast and most accurate way to REALLY tell how long they’ve been in the business for!

We pride ourselves on being one of the longer standing moisture detection companies in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch (operating NZ Wide) with some of NZ’s most high profile companies on our books, including several councils and publically listed companies who use our services time and time again.

What’s happened recently in the NZ building inspection services industry, is builders started to run out of physical building work, and as a result they suddenly turned into inspectors.

What happens next? They start inspecting homes with a potential ‘hidden’ agender. We called up 1o companies who have started inspecting houses in the past 2 years and asked them if they fixed any problems they found. 8 out of the 10 house inspection companies surveyed said “YES”, or they could refer someone who could. 5 of them did not carry a thermal imaging camera.

So now… is it really an independant inspection if they also sell repair services also? Possibly not. This goes for pre sale, pre purchase moisture detection and building inspection services.

The way we’ve built our company over the years, is by sticking to a policy of non-biased inspections, which means it makes absolutely no difference to us if we find zero leaks, or 10 leaks using our leak detection equipment and techniques. In addition, we do these moisture inspections with reports at the best possible price possible, based on the area where you live.

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.

Leaks Repaired But Wall Damage Continuing?

Can a small bathroom leak really be that destructive? 

Absolutely… here’s what most home owners don’t realise:

In the infrared photo below, you will see two different leaks on the same kitchen ceiling… and neither could be seen visually. Here’s what the scenario was with this inspection.

There was a bathroom directly above this ceiling, and when you walked across the bathroom floor it was very squeeky. This instantly alerted me there could be water under the tiles and waterproofing, and possible swelling in the particleboard floor that can’t be seen.

When you have a shower up against an external wall, it’s not just a matter of fixing the leak, but what damage has it caused to the timber framing in the wall in the meantime? What about saturated insulation holding moisture in the wall (will take months, if not years to dry)?

Wall damage will continue long after the leak has been repaired if you don’t do an invasive moisture test to confirm the water hasn’t tracked down the external walls below the shower (if on a 2nd floor), and penetrated into the timber. Treated timber will also get damaged if exposed to a gradual leak from and extended period of time.

You can see the track of a leak from a toilet to the left side of the infrared image, and you can also see a seperate shower drain leak captured by the thermal imaging camera (dark spot). The leak tracking across the ceiling on the left was also running down the external wall to the left of the window frame… leaving wet untreated timber in it’s path.

The home owner will not only need to repair the leaks, but also remove the wall lining to assess insulation and let the timber dry out or be replaced if decay and rot hasn’t already set in.

If this home owner had a regular infrared moisture check up of their home, they could have avoided needing to rip up the bathroom flooring etc ($9000 fix!).

Ring today for a free thermal leak detection scan quote of your house!

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 Do I Know if I Have a Leaky Home/Building?

After fielding plenty of calls from NZ home owners/buyers every week, I have noticed a very common pattern occurs over time.

What are the most common questions I get asked?

1) How do I know if I am living in a leaky building?

2) We would like you to moisture test a house before we buy it to make sure it’s not a leaky home… how much is it?

3) Should I buy a home built with plaster? 

The obvious pattern that emerges week after week, is that people are almost scared to buy a house these days without further testing beyond a standard building inspection. This is NZ wide!

While some people want to know how to avoid buying a leaky home, others want to know if they are living in one… so how do you know?

Answer: 95% of time you won’t know, unless you have a background in the building or thermal imaging/moisture testing business.

There have been many cases when a home owner will call me in because they have signs of a leaking problem, such as a skirting board that is swollen, or the carpet has mould growing on it in the corner etc. Then… 1 – 2hrs later i’ve found anywhere between 1 and 10 other leaking problems that were not anticipated. Sometimes all the window joinery has failed throughout the house, and there is water under every window! Unless you have the right equipment, you most likely will have no idea.

Recently I went out to a job in a very wealthy area in the Bombay Hills area of Auckland, and the home owner had just had a re-cladding company quote him $167,000 to reclad the building… and do you know what their justification for this price was? To bring it up to the standard of the new building code!  Hey?

After doing a complete moisture test on this plaster home, it turns out one window was leaking, some drainage needed to be installed around the base of the cladding, and one section of wall needed to be re-meshed and a coat paint over the top… maybe $20,000 work in total, if that. So unless you get an independant inspection from a company that doesn’t sell re-cladding services, you may be getting biased information.

The above company were certianly right that the building was built to the old building code, but the home owner is under no obligation to convert it to the new code if it’s not a leaky building!

If your wondering if you live in a leaky building right now, and your home was built between 1992 and 2004, then it’s worth a ‘quick scan’ thermal imaging inspection for the peace of mind if anything.