Most people in New Zealand have heard about “Leaky Home Syndrome” that has effected many houses constructed during 1994 to 2005 suffering from weather-tightness problems. The majority of these were plaster houses with untreated timber framing and have become unsafe to live in because of mould and spores that have developed in the damp frames. Much of the media hype surrounding leaky homes has died down however there are still many properties out there for sale that could potentially have leaking issues. As a buyer it is important to know what to look out for so you can avoid buying a leaky home.
I am always wary of properties that have been recently repainted. A fresh coat of paint can hide a multitude of sins. While its understandable that vendors want to present their home in the best possible way, it may be that they have repainted to hide an existing issue, particularly water stains and evidence of leaks.
The importance of getting a building inspection done prior to purchasing cannot be emphasised enough. If you are looking at a plaster house, particularly if it is Mediterranean style with flat roof and no eaves, then you should get a building inspector who specialises in identifying leaky homes. They are usually equipped with thermal imaging cameras and invasive testing equipment that can identify problems inside the walls that would not be visible to the naked eye. A building inspector can only comment on the condition of the property at they time they inspect it. Bear in mind that if it has been particularly dry the moisture readings may come back ok, however this could change with heavy rainfall. A good building inspector should point out the type of cladding and identify if the property is high risk.