Rotten wood in a leaky home

A leaky building or leaky home is one where water has penetrated the building's cladding system (i.e. the covering of the timber frame) and which then does not drain or evaporate from the wall cavity.

After a while the moisture level of the building's timber framing increases and allows the growth of mould and fungus which rots the timber framing.

Factors that influence whether a building is at risk of experiencing weathertightness issues include:

  • The type of cladding. The most risky are textured fibre cement, cement stucco and EIFS cladding systems.
  • Buildings of more than one storey are more at risk.
  • Homes with overhanging eaves are less at risk.
  • Location - homes in sheltered locations are less at risk.
  • Date of construction - homes built between 1987 and 2004 have a high risk, particularly those built between 1998 and 2004.
  • Certain design features such as a flat roof, complex joinery, skylights etc.
Rotten-frame
Replace rotting window frames

You’ve probably heard about leaky buildings in the media, but unless you’ve been directly affected, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about.

Leaky Building Syndrome is the term given to a building that has not been designed or constructed to perform suitably under normal weather conditions in New Zealand.

The problem has affected home-owners from right across the country, arising in many different property types, including apartments, town-houses, stand-alone houses, high spec homes and commercial buildings.

There are many different reasons for a building to leak but some of these include:

  • Incorrect installation of the monolithic cladding systems.
  • Design features which do not allow for deflection of water away from the building – for example “Mediterranean” style houses with no eaves.
  • Inadequate construction practices within the building industry, in particular inadequate sealing of penetrations through the cladding for window openings, decks, plumbing, etc.
  • Inadequate administration by Councils during the building process to ensure that appropriate standards are met.

Areas typically vulnerable to moisture entry:

  • Pergolas, handrails and cantilevered balcony decks joined to exterior walls.
  • Fascias and guttering that penetrate the cladding.
  • Flashings around windows and doors.
  • Meter boards attached to the cladding.
  • Electrical and plumbing penetrations through the cladding.
  • Solid cladding extending below the tiled surfaces of balconies or the surrounding ground.
  • Roofs with inadequate slopes to quickly disperse water, downpipe spreaders discharging water onto lower roofs or decks and inadequate overflows and drains.
  • Once water has penetrated the cladding it is retained within the monolithic cladding system, eventually causing damage to the structure of the building, especially in conjunction with untreated framing timber susceptible to rotting.
rot-under-window
Window frames and design features

The repairs necessary to remedy the resulting structural damage usually involve removing the cladding and replacing the decayed timber framing underneath.

Such repairs can be both extensive and expensive.

For confidence when fixing leaky building problems - Talk to Platinum Pacific Reclad for a no-obligation consultation - we're experts in leaky home resolution solutions.

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