Marketing and Selling a House with Known Leaks

Does your real estate agent have a good poker face?

Home buyers… there are still real estate agents in NZ who are willing to say whatever it takes to get pen on paper. Most agents are above board and ethical… but you get the odd one who needs to make money and has a good poker face when it comes to telling you how “they don’t know of any leaking issues with the home“. (Even if there is water dripping through a ceiling like the case below).

Today was a classic example which you may be able to relate too, or it may sound familiar. It went something like this…

1) It was a rainy day and the home owner decided they were sick and didn’t want anyone around at the house. We put the heat on them for cancelling the infrared inspection at the last minute. The buyer got his way and we got into the home to do the inspection as per original plan.

2) We get in the house, and the first thing I see is the cleaner with a mop and bucket in hand? So much for no-one being welcome that day. You’ll see why the cleaner was really there in a moment.

3) Before I started the thermal imaging inspection, the real estate agent tells me “the home owners are pedantic and very fussy, and if there were any leaks they would have had them fixed”. I took her on face value (Turns out to be ‘poker face’ value)

4) The very first room I find a leak with the infrared camera… and this continued for the first 3 rooms. 3 rooms, three leaks. Hmmm.

5) I then see the cleaner moping the tiled floor in the next room we were about to moisture test. She then leaves, and what do you think the first thing we see is? Water dripping from the top of the door frame onto the floor! The cleaner was staying one step ahead of us moping up the leaks hoping we wouldn’t see any signs! Are you kidding me!!! She did this on two occasions and got caught both times. Little did she know that a thermal imaging camera will see the leaks anyway.

6) To cut a long story short, there was a total of 14 leaks throughout the house, and 12 of these were big ones. Here’s just one of them…

Water dripping onto the floor through this leak
Water dripping onto the floor through this leak

I like most agents, and I get plenty of work through them… and most of realtors do disclose everything for their own sake… but some just aren’t following the rules.

Summary: You can’t point the finger at the agent if you buy a home that leaks because you didn’t get it tested first on your own accord. Regardless of the marketing and verbal representations made when buying a house, it’s up to you to do your own research.

Cheap Leaky Buildings for Sale

If you are seriously in the hunt to buy a bargain property, just be careful that you don’t actually get more than what you bargained for!

In this case, a ‘first time’ unexperienced buyer of leaky buildings hired me to moisture test a property after he had already payed a non-refundable deposit (auction).

If you see any advertising telling you about cheap leaky buildings for sale, then please proceed cautiously, because some leaky buildings leak so badly that they are beyond your standard re-clad to fix up.

Recently I did a home inspection for a client who was aware the home had moisture issues… it even stated that in the marketing materials for the home. You see, it’s easy for a real estate agent to say “the building might need a total re-clad”, but what if all the floor joists are also rotted? If you see a leaky home/building for sale in the Mission Bay, St Heliers, Kohimarama area at just $270k, then surely you would have to be suspicious there is more than meets the eye, right? You bet! Especially when it’s on a tiny cross leased piece of land with no view.

So what’s it really worth?

Unless your an experienced builder or investor who has dealt with leaky buildings in the past, then in my opinion you will need a complete structural intergrity survey of the home first (Don’t get excited by the price to quickly)… and if it’s so rotted that it’s close to a ‘knock down’ (don’t forget to factor in costs to take it away), then it’s barely worth the piece of dirt it sits on.

Everything property is a good deal at the right price, but make sure you also factor in your building experience into the price… and don’t let the hype of an auction grab your bank account and tear it apart like I have just witnessed!

Maybe ask a current or past leaky building owner if they would buy another one for a cheap price.  I highly doubt it… especially if they aren’t experienced in the building industry. Take Care!

What Does a Leaky Home/Building Look Like?

If you don’t know what a leaky home or leaky building looks like, then you’re not the only one.

What is the perception created from a ‘look-a-like’ leaky home?

Recently I was contacted by newspaper reporter Michelle Coursey at the NZ Herald regarding the first thoughts some home buyers have when they come across a property for sale that ‘looks like’ a leaky home… or when they find out the home was built in the 1990’s. (A link to the published article is at the bottom of this page for you to read). 

You can read about my own personal ‘first thoughts’ when I drive up a driveway to do a thermal imaging leak inspection, and see a home with no eves or window flashings infront of me (contributing factors to a leaky home) in the Herald newspaper article. You can also read how the different real estate agents responded to the same question. One agent said one of her clients ‘freaked out’ when taken to view a home with monolithic cladding, while another agent said people won’t even get past seeing a picture on the internet of a home for sale that ‘looks like’ a leaky building.

Not all homes that use ‘that type of cladding’ leak… but unfortunately the stigma surrounding them could have a real impact should the home owner decide to sell. I’ve spoken to people who have a leaky home, and they tell me they certainly will be changing the type of exterior finish when they come around to doing the re-clad, to help prevent being labelled having a leaky home before it’s even been tested for moisture.

Take a read of the NZ Herald article here….

‘Leaky Look Deters Buyers’

Is Consent Needed to Repair Leaky Building or Home?

Here is some very interesting information for those of you who have purchased a leaky home or leaky building and are considering repairs, but aren’t sure if you need building consent first.

Building a home in NZ is subject to the Building Act 2004. If you go ahead and start renovating your home, or begin ‘building work’ without consent, you are actually carrying out an offence.

There are certain rules that can keep you inside the law when making alterations or repairs to a home. There’s an excellent article in the NZ Herald that explains exactly what circumstances require building consent when renovating or repairing a leaky home, so it’s certainly worth a read for those who aren’t sure on the consent rules. Here’s the direct link to the article…

Consent requirements for leaky building or home

Contact us for a moisture ingress check on your home!


NZ Leaky Homes – Signs of a Leaky Home or Leaky Building

If you suspect you have a leaky home, or signs of a leaky home(s), there are a few basics you can take to help prevent water infiltrating your asset.

First you need establish what area the leak could be entering. This is usually very hard to work out with the naked eye, as water can travel up, down, sideways and into the smallest of cracks and voids.

leaky home mould

DIY basics to help avoid water infiltrating your home:

1) Walk around your home and carefully look at the surface of every wall for cracks or pentrations. Something as simple as a nail poking out could let water in around it and cause moisture damage. Seal it fast!

2) Sill flashings under your windows. Check the joinery is sealed and no ‘obvious’ gaps are present for water to infiltrate. This is a common area for water leaks.

3) Meter boards need to be sealed properly.

4) Where your deck balustrades (hand railings) connect to the wall.

If you find penetrations on your exterior walls, the chances that water could have already entered your walls is high. Simply fixing the penetration isn’t enough… the area of concern should be checked with a thermal imaging camera and moisture meter to help determine the extent of the leak/damage. You may need to open up the area and let it dry out, which in turn will help prevent future structural integrity issues.

At the end of the day, the majority of NZ home buyers will now get a moisture inspection & building inspection before signing the dotted line. If you think you could have moisture behind your walls, you should call us asap… every day you leave it sit could mean a decrease in the equity of your home. Catch the moisture issues early before you suddenly become an owner of one of those NZ leaky homes!

Contact us today for a free thermal imaging quote.

Consumerbuild has detailed info regarding the above here