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)


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!

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 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.

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.

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.