Building Advice

1. My building is leaking. Who do I speak to?

  • You should seek the advice from a Building Consultant. They can identify the issues that may be creating the leaking. We can assist with initial enquiries and guidance.
  • Avoid untrained opinions about what is the cause and remedy. This is a specialist issue that needs to be examined by a Building Consultant.
  • You can find Building Consultants online, in the local paper or phone book. Try finding one that specialises in weathertightness.
  • Find someone who can look at the home and assess potential water entry points. They need to provide guidance about the next steps.

i. Achieve a reasonable level of confidence they know what they are talking about before engaging.
ii. Once you find someone, ask around to see if anyone knows them, and if they have a good or bad reputation.

  • Ask for costs before engaging. An hourly rate is normally the only thing that can be given. The time it will take can vary.
  • Write down questions before approaching a company. Ask questions and follow up to any verbal discussions in a written format, email is best. This will save any misunderstandings.

2. How do I know if a building is leaky?

  • Always seek professional advice.
  • There are several signs to look for. These occur both on the inside and outside of the building.
  • Normally stains are an indicator of moisture being present.
  • If the place has been recently painted it could be hiding signs of leaking. Ask questions about why it was painted and when.
  • Look at all high points. Imagine how the water from rain or maintenance wash-downs will flow down. Water can track along and up slightly in many cases.
  • Most leaks are from gaps in the exterior envelope of a building e.g roof, walls and windows. Penetrations to a buildings envelope or cladding junctions can open and close with heat and cooling, or move from seismic or strong winds.
  • If the house floor level is close to exterior ground or deck level where water can settle, it can soak into concrete or other surfaces and track back into the building.
  • Generally, flat surfaces such as parapets or deck safety from falling barriers will not drain surface water off. Water can soak through the paint and material into the framing below.
  • If water gets in behind the cladding, and it cannot get out at the bottom it can travel to the inside of the building.
  • Most surfaces, junctions and penetrations will have the ability to soak up water. Paint only holts water flow through a product for about 2-5 years.

3. I’m unhappy with the designer, builder or council

  • We can give guidance. There are many approaches and too many to list here. Get in touch.
  • Builders and designers must be LBP registered (Licenced Building Practitioners) or be supervised by an LBP to perform most design or construction work. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) reviews their actions.
  • Councils are accredited and must be audited by MBIE. MBIE will review their performance and deal with any complaints against the council.
  • Make a complaint to the council’s complaints department first. Give them the opportunity to try to remedy it in the first case. We can do this for you on your behalf.
  • There is a claim process for buildings that have failed. Generally it is limited up to 10 years after it was built or completed with a ‘Code Compliance Certificate’ (CCC) or completed without a CCC being issued in some cases. There are various approaches.

4. What should I consider before choosing a designer?

  • We can provide some guidance and offer a design service. We can give you some tips on what to consider.
  • Designers are normally ‘Licenced Building Practitioners’ (LBPs) and have a registration authority they must answer to when any problems occur.
  • Most designers belong to groups that provide their members with various performance expectations
  • Ask people you know who have used a designer
  • You need to write down your ideas. Document what you want, don’t want and what you would like if the budget permits.
  • Don’t design a layout until you have a section. All designs needs to consider a section’s access, views and sun etc.

5. How do I find the right builder?

  • Make sure your builder is registered as LBPs (Licenced Building Practitioner). Check their website.
  • Ask around and see who people recommend.
  • Explain exactly what you are looking for. Some builders may not be able to perform the work required or may not want the work.
  • Create a short-list of builders you like, what you want them to do and what you don’t want them to do.
  • Always discuss costs and contracts, which are important to protect you and them. Read all contracts very carefully and get others to also review to ensure you have a good level of protection.

6. What is an expert witness?

  • An expert witness is a person who assists with a claim being made against any parties in relation to a building. They can provide technical written reports, legal documents, and can appear in court to provide expert input on a subject that will be relevant to the claim being made against any parties.
  • An expert witness has been recognised as being experienced in a process or system or relevant activities (including building legislation and regulatory performance by councils etc).
  • Depending on what the issue, it may end up in the legal system. There are various types of expert witnesses and in many cases your lawyer will know of the relevant ones required.
  • Most claims will have several expert witnesses. Each party will have their own expert witness to support their claim or defense.
  • There is no list of expert witnesses to look up. They are recommended by others or lawyers. We can provide expert witness input for building legislation (act and code), council processes and good trade practice. Feel free to make contact and we can advise.

7. What is a Builders report? (aka pre-purchase checks)

  • A builders report report is done for an owner or a potential owner, who wants information about a building. It is an independent review of the building, carried out by a building professional.
  • Detail in these reports can vary and it depends on the level of technical input wanted.
  • The least costly one, estimated to be approximately $400-$600 is often done by a builder. Nowadays, very few builders will do these reports. In all due respect to the builders, they are normally only able to review what was built and if the work done was of a good standard.
  • The higher level and more technical reports are done by ‘Building Consultants’. They will review what was done on site, comment on what work is compliant with the building code now, and at the time it was carried out. There are various levels of consultant reports (aka pre-purchase reports) and will depend on what is wanted and what is prepared to be paid for. The more in-depth the report, the more costly.
    • Some will provide a report based on what is seen onsite. This will range from $500 – $800.
    • A few will provide both an onsite review and a check of the council property file. This is very time consuming, yet very worthwhile. It will highlight what parts of the building are not code compliant. To be legal it must be as it is on the council property file. This will range from $1000 – $2000.

There are also specialist reports that can include specific topics such as

    • Electrical
    • Plumbing and Drainage
    • Weathertightness
    • Structural
    • Plus others
  • It is difficult to put an estimated price on these specialist reports as will depend on many factors. Discuss these with a Building Consultant that does the more in-depth reporting. They can include a partial or full coverage of these specialist topics.
  • We can offer a high level consultant’s report that examines the site, council files and weathertightness. Our specialist reports will range from $1800 – $3000. We have several specialists within our group that assist with the onsite review, earthquake stability, weathertightness, council files and electrical reviews. We can also arrange for plumbing and drainage reviews as well as structural if necessary.

8. What is the difference between an architect and a designer (ie drafter)?

  • A designer draws plans or creates designs for a building or other items. They range from a draftsman, architectural designer or other specific topics such as architectural, structural, mechanical, electrical and several others.
  • The term designer technically includes all levels of people that draw plans and includes an architect or engineer, but more commonly is referred to as someone who is not an architect or engineer.
  • An architect or engineer are only that status if they have completed a university qualification in some form. Ideally, they belong to the relevant professional organisation that controls their performance under a duty of care to their customers.
  • Drafting designers are normally members of a professional organisation but do not have a university qualification. They may have a drafting qualification from a technical institute or similar, but not likely a university.
  • Many people will have differing opinions about who does a better job. Some say an architect will generally focus on providing a design that is unique and individual. They will often include project management of the construction and will charge fees based on a percentage of the total construction of the project. This may range from about 8 – 20 percent depending on the reputation and involvement.
  • A drafting person is generally considered to provide a more cost efficient design fee system that may or may not include site supervision. A drafting type designer can and will normally achieve a design that is individual for the owners and the site just as much as an architect. A designer is normally less costly than an architect. They often charge an hourly rate but many are now utilising a percentage rate that again depends on their reputation, location and level of project management that is required. I have seen rates ranging from 3 – 12 percent for a drafting type designer. Hourly rates are very difficult to average out but have seen rates that range from 70 – 130/hr depending on location and level of expertise and involvement.