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Auckland Hosts Leaky Building Symposium

14 July 2005

Auckland Hosts Leaky Building Symposium

The leaky buildings crisis comes under the spotlight at a University of Auckland symposium to be held at Waipuna Hotel on July 18-19.

The symposium aims to increase the understanding of moisture transport in building walls, present research from leading international experts on weather tightness, and offer practical solutions for homeowners and industry to deal with current problems and improve future building construction strategies.

The two keynote speakers are internationally acclaimed Canadian building moisture experts Dr John Straube and Dr Joe Lstiburek, who will offer their latest research findings and experience as well as a global perspective of the leaking buildings syndrome and how it is affecting countries around the world.

Symposium convenor Professor Geoff Duffy from the University's Faculty of Engineering says that many New Zealanders are affected by the leaky buildings syndrome in some way.

"The primary objectives of the Symposium are to lay a strong platform of truth on technical issues associated with water ingress and removal from walls and subsequent wood decay, provide strong evidence from case studies here and overseas to assist in establishing clear design, building and maintenance strategies, and show that measurements must be made to ensure the ongoing monitoring and maintenance," says Professor Duffy.

"Without quantitative data obtained at the worst trouble spots, there will be the ongoing generalised opinions that confuse the whole issue. Wood is a sensitive biological material and is a feedstock for fungus and other mould growth if moisture levels remain high.

"There is no single cause and no single solution. We need to work together (industry, researchers, government departments and home owners) for the best possible outcomes for our community."

Professor Duffy says the symposium will increase awareness of best practice from international research and offer practical solutions that people can implement if they have a leaky home.

"New Zealand needs a method of managing the current stock of defective buildings. Some are deteriorating in just a few years but some are 20+ years old with treated wood.

"There is only a 10-year period where those accrediting, designing, and building a house can possibly be held accountable. We need to look at the whole question of maintenance and remediation if we want houses to last their intended and expected 50 years."

Professor Duffy says people looking to fix their own homes will find excellent insights into how they can measure, monitor, manage and maintain their homes to give them a greater sense of security in the current state of events.

"Re-cladding totally may not be the answer once the local 'hot spots' are measured and assessed."

Keynote speakers:

Associate Professor John Straube

Dr John Straube is experienced in the many facets of building design, moisture physics and whole building performance as a consultant, researcher and educator. He has a joint appointment with the Civil Engineering Department and the School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo, Canada where he teaches courses in material science, structural design, and building science to both disciplines.

He is a prolific writer and presenter with more than 20 conference papers, many articles and over a hundred international presentations on building science. Dr Straube has broad experience in the building industry, having been involved in the design, construction, repair and restoration of buildings in Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, United States and Canada.

He is the director of Building Engineering Group (BEG) at the University of Waterloo, a multi-disciplinary research group that undertakes research, development, and demonstration for the building industry. He also runs his own consulting firm Balanced Solutions.

Dr Joseph Lstiburek
Dr Joseph Lstiburek (University of Toronto) is a principal of Building Science Corporation and an acclaimed public speaker and lecturer in building science. He is internationally recognised as an authority on moisture-related building problems and indoor air quality. He specialises in rain damage and mould and microbial contamination of buildings.

Dr Lstiburek has written numerous books and technical papers on building construction. He is the best selling author of the Builder Guides and has more than 50 technical and journal articles to his credit. He has conducted forensic investigations and served as an expert witness on building failures in the United States.

A full list of speakers and the symposium programme can be viewed at:

The Leaky Buildings Symposium runs from 18-19 July. The venue is:
Waipuna Hotel and Conference Centre
58 Waipuna Road, Mt Wellington

Media are welcome to attend.


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