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Every house leaks at some stage because of fatigue, cracks and poor workmanship. Follow these tips to prevent extensive damage and keep up with maintenance.



Leaky Roofs or Homes

How to deal with water proofing?

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Who is the fool—the architect, builder or inspector?


Who knows NZ’s housing also knows that every house is on risk of leaking sooner or later. On the previous page we illustrated a brand new house with a leaky roof. Poor workmanship and cutting corners are not the only problems. Houses are not designed to be maintenance and repair friendly. For instance pipes are not accessible and in the event of a leak the entire wall  (as shown in the left picture) needed to be replaced.


When we renovate, we put in service channels for pipe installations (right picture) for easy access for repair/maintenance and make changes to prevent damage. Unbelievable but common is e.g. that hot-water cylinders have no tray to drain the water away when leaking. People find out about water leaks in most cases when it is too late and  excessive damage has occurred. In one case the entire kitchen floor due to a leaking hot-water cylinder had to be replaced.  I call it faulty by design!




Leaks are the most destructive faults



Professionals have been struggling with leaky homes for decades because each generation of architects, builders and materials have their own specific. When investing a problem I always start with the design checking out the direction the water flows.


The hardest leaks to find and solve are near shared walls for instance caused by a firewall between two townhouses, units, dwellings, etc.  If the water runs down between the walls till it hits a beam, ceiling or floor and spreads out until it becomes visible, nobody wants to have a deeper destructive investigation on a part that seems to be dry.


Flat roofs are prone to be difficult to troubleshoot as the most common method of testing for roof leaks has been flood testing. On the previous page shown flood testing did not show any results. Rain water is softer than water from the tap and has time to soak through slowly and wind pressure can push water upwards.


Hidden plumbing and fixtures behind shower linings, bathroom walls, or floor drainage in toilet and laundry are a nightmare and in many cases the culprit for mould because of leaks. It is obviously a designer issue to build a house with access for service and maintenance.



Common leaks

What can homeowners do?


I have seen it several times that the building material (timber framing) is wet when delivered or built-in. When drying out that material tends to twist and opens cracks. When running a building project watch your builder. Don’t accept substandard work — you only know when making inspections.


Most homeowners have already experienced that every house will leak at some stage because of fatigue cracks similar to the human body which has to see sometimes the doctor.   But if you keep up with maintenance and repair you will avoid making a grim discovery when it is too late. Tips to consider:



· Discoloration on walls, ceilings and floors are worth investigations


· Check for water marks in the attic because of a roofing or flashing around vents and chimney. 


· If you investigate a leak but the attic is dry the next step would be to check rooms with plumbing such as bathroom, toilet, laundry and kitchen.


· Vent pipes from bath and toilet which penetrate the roof often  collect water because of a missing cap causing it to leak. Regular checking vent pipes and keeping them in good repair is proactive damage control.


· Cracked drainage and storm water pipes cause a lot of problems if not regular checked and cleared.


· Very common water damage occurs by leaves blocking gutters and down pipes. For instance when the gutter overflows water may penetrate walls and soaks into the ground beneath the house. Unnoticed the damage can be massive.


· Consider tree roots too close to the house causing damage to foundation. Leaks will follow.


· Often tree roots cause blockages of sewer and stormwater pipes. Keep a save distance when planting around the house.



Klauster Properties Ltd.  -   Homeowner's Blog


Venture into the world of home ownership cliches

When inspecting a home water damage and poor workmanship (e.g. flashing around the door is missing) are visible—be vigilant.



Keep records of water proofing and maintenance work


One of the most convincing ways to demonstrate that your property is sound are (yours or builder’s) documentations about water proofing and records of maintenance or repair work. In the event of selling those records will give you a good chance to respond to pre-purchase inspections from potential buyers.


It is your property – demonstrate that you take care of it. Substandard work is only possible if accepted by the property owner. Don’t be one of them.




Take away

Leaky homes have been around long enough to be common knowledge that affects generations of NZ’s homes. Finger pointing is not helpful when being a homeowner. For dealing with problems you don’t need to be an expert—easy steps as shown in this article will do the job. Good look.



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