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Buyer Beware Situation: Leaky Homes Analysis

12 November, 2009

Media Release for Immediate Use

Home owners, local authorities and the Government should take special care to avoid overblown estimates of the extent of problems and costs associated with the repair of residential structures in which leaks have been identified says the Building Industry Federation.

“There are increasing anecdotal tales within the industry of excessive repair work being recommended at costs beyond that which should be considered reasonable,” said Chief Executive Bruce Kohn in a statement issued today.

“A comparison might be that detection of a leak in a house or apartment block does not automatically mean there should be a complete re-cladding or structural rebuild any more than detection of a freckle on an arm is indicative of an automatic requirement for cancer surgery.

“This is an area ripe for hit and run cowboy activities. Many unfortunate home owners who have identified a leak in their properties are elderly, young or have little expert knowledge. They are reliant on sound advice from experts and need to ensure that those they turn to are well qualified for the task and have a proven track record.

“Similarly local authorities and the Government in any authorisation of remedial payouts need to be sure that talk of a need for large scale and expensive repair work is justified. It is also reasonable to confine ratepayer or taxpayer payouts to remedial work, not enhancement of the structure. Tauranga’s former MP and builder Bob Clarkson is on the mark in drawing attention to this aspect.

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“Home owners can check in with the New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors who carry out inspections and can probe identified leaks. Reputable builders can be found through the Registered Master Builders’ Federation or the Certified Builders’ Association of New Zealand. This is very much a “buyers beware’ situation in which there are reputable and well qualified experts available, along with opportunists.

“Potential for major structural damage to have already occurred should not be underestimated. But nor should the prospect be dismissed that the leak is a defect that can quickly be remedied at comparatively low cost.


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