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The Weathertight Warranty Company

Backgrounder
September 2008

The Weathertight Warranty Company


The Weathertight Warranty Company Ltd (WW) is an Auckland-based building inspection company providing warranties for homes, following a comprehensive building inspection to ensure the house’s exterior wall cladding is “moisture free”.

It is the first such company to be established in New Zealand. Warranties are issued by AIG New Zealand, a member of American International Group Inc.

Foundation

WW was formed in 2008 by chartered surveyor and registered building inspector, David Hughes MNZIBS & BOINZ, and registered building inspector, Bill Cartwright, BOINZ.

With both having many years practical experience in the building sector, they have collectively undertaken more than 10,000 home inspections in relation to Building Compliance and Weathertightness.

As experienced building inspectors, they recognised the plight of homeowners seeking to ensure their homes were moisture free more than six years ago. Many of the homeowners whose houses they inspected required help to bring their residences up to code compliance standards.

As a result, they established Citywide Building Consultants in 2002 following their identification of the need for an inspection company that could offer sound, practical advice in relation to both construction and compliance issues at a financially viable rate. They had also recognised `leaky building syndrome’ was a problem which would continue to grow and wanted to try and establish a detection/monitoring service to enable home owners to detect leaks early on, so as to avoid costly remedial works.

They also recognised having a warranty on the home – especially in regard to houses with monolithic cladding - would assist in avoiding any likely stigma in regard to leaky building syndrome. They originally started moisture mapping houses to detail moisture content of the framing at critical points around the house and establish a history of the home. These results are monitored on a regular basis to ensure they remain constant or, if they do become elevated, the source of the issue can be readily traced.

As a result, David Hughes formulated the idea of providing Weathertight Warranties.
Then followed an intensive period of research as to how best structure the programme and to identify and form a relationship with a leading international insurer who would issue warranties.

They expanded on the monitoring of the home by additionally certifying the property as dry prior to the home owner being able to purchase a warranty. This means the inspection team have to be satisfied the home is both dry now and detailed correctly to prevent possible future leakage.

Annual inspections are undertaken and maintenance carried out to ensure the ongoing performance of the cladding. Should any issue arise the home owner can rest assured remedial works will be carried out and paid for by the warranty.

Bill Cartwright has been involved in the residential building industry in New Zealand since 1972. A trade qualified carpenter, he was previously in charge of the Auckland City inspectorate department. Trade qualified in England, prior to coming to New Zealand in 1995, David Hughes also worked with the Auckland City Council within its compliance division. He is a member of the New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors and certified Weathertightness inspector.

Their knowledge and experience is called on by many of leading Law firms around the country to assist in dispute resolution and litigation.


Warranties:

Warranties are issued by the American Home Assurance Company (New Zealand Branch) incorporated with limited liability in the USA, trading as AIG New Zealand, a member of the American International Group, Inc. The warranties provided are not insurance polices. They are warranties issued by the Weathertight Warranty Company. The Weathertight Warranty Company has insured the performance of its obligations under the warranty subject to terms conditions and exclusions with AIG New Zealand.


How the process works:

The first step is for the homeowner to arrange for a free warranty cost inspection. This will include an onsite points assessment to determine the price of the warranty.

Upon acceptance of this quotation, a comprehensive Weathertight building inspection is carried out. The certified dry inspection process includes invasive and non-invasive moisture readings, thermal imaging, paint coating and roof analysis. During this process WW builds up a complete record of the house as to its weathertightness and will identify any problems. If the property is approved dry a Weathertight Warranty can be issued immediately.

If repairs or maintenance work are required, WW completes a re-inspection and signs off on any work undertaken. The warranty is then issued in the normal way.

Warranties are available on a one or two year basis.

Any warranty term over one year will include an annual recheck inspection.

On an average sized home, a two year warranty is likely to cost in the region of $4,500. + $1500 for the inspection.


Leaky Building Syndrome and the impact of Weathertight Warranties upon property prices

Over the past ten years, leaky home syndrome HAS affected thousands of HOMES IN New Zealand . It has been estimated this number could be as high as between 30 – 90,000 homes.

The so-called “Mediterranean look” style of building with monolithic cladding has taken much of the blame for this type of damage; many of these style houses were built in a fashion suited for dryer climates than New Zealand’s wet and windy weather conditions. Traditionally eaves were designed to keep a great deal of rainwater away from walls, providing protection. Mediterranean style buildings tended towards non-existent or minimal eaves.

It should be noted not all houses built with monolithic cladding are leaky – however it is essential the cladding was correctly installed initially and exterior and interior walls are regularly inspected, monitored and properly maintained.

Water damage can also be incurred from poor landscaping decisions; guttering and downpipes; as well as inadequate and incorrectly installed flashing.

Monolithic plaster finish is not only a problem unique to New Zealand. Builders in America and Canada have been facing lawsuits for almost a decade.

A similar warranty programme undertaken in America has seen the value of warranted houses preserved or even increased from between 3 – 16 percent (source Moisture Warranty Corporation USA); it has also decreased the amount of time a house is likely to be on the market before selling under normal market conditions.


ends

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