The visit from the estate agent was interesting. She obviously thinks that we are expecting too much for the house, especially in this present economic situation and also because of the type of building it is. In brief, it is similar in style and build to a type of property built here from around 1999 and which, collectively became known as “leaky homes”. The words “leaky-home syndrome”, bring terror to the hearts of New Zealanders and not without cause, either.
Some years ago, it was obligatory for all timber to be chemically treated against rot before it could be used in construction. For a variety of reasons, the laws enforcing this requirement were repealed and builders were not slow to take advantage of the situation. At the same time, a method and style of building that involved timber frames, a type of polystyrene (at least, that is what it looks like,) and synthetic boards sprayed with plaster became the rage. These buildings were designed with no eaves and were built on ground level. Constructions ranging from small homes, to apartment blocks, to public buildings (schools, too) were produced in the new, fashionable mode. They looked fresh, bright and extremely attractive!
Unfortunately, NZ is a wet country, with wild winds and hard, driving rain. In many areas, there is warm, damp, humidity. The style of building and the un-treated timber combined to form an unholy marriage that ended with about 20% of said buildings leaking like sieves, the un-treated timbers rotting and the buildings having either to be partially, or completely, re-clad. In some cases, they were even pulled down. We have several friends who spent up-to or over $100,000 in an effort to get rid of the leaks that turned their beautiful homes into a mouldy dungeons and that story has been repeated over and over again.
The solicitors and the courts are, of course, having a field day, as are those whose trade is re-cladding. The law suits are ringing throughout the land and will continue to do so for many years to come, I am sure. Government and Local Government have back-pedalling madly, trying to shuffle off the blame and to minimise the amount of compensation they may have to pay. Nothing new there, then! Repairs on properties no older than 10 years are being subsidised by govt and local councils, the balance to be met by the owners. Anything older than 10 years – tough! No insurance and most of the builders have gone bust or have disappeared.
Our home is sort of in the second wave. The construction method is the same, but we have generous eaves and a thick concrete pad lifting us off the ground. A leak in our veranda for an entirely different reason was repaired a couple of years ago and we took the trouble then to have a good look at the frame. All was well at that time.
Now our EA is worried that we are being too optimistic. We have told her that we are in the process of getting a full builder’s report and a thermal imaging report, which will identify any problems that may be present. So, we shall see!