Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Settlement between James Hardie And the Ministry of Education

See the following link for some background idea about this case:





Also see my previous blog in Chinses when this case just popped out:


It is the most disappointing case so far I have heard for the following reasons:

1. We yet to see a milestone case, when a product manufacture is liable for a leak building lawsuit. We can see the Ministry of Education has proofed that. But why keep it confidential?

2. Almost all councils, specially councils within the great Auckland region, have paid massive amount of money to leaky building owners, simply because it always has been the "last party standing". In most cases James Hardies products were involved. We all know that, councils money is our money, the ratepayers money.

3. This case could well be the milestone, when almost all precedent cases could be overturned. At least, from technical point of view, we need to proof that scientifically and make it public available: How "texture coated fibre cement" as a cladding system, can fail, when other variables (workmanship, design complicity, location, maintenance and etc) are constant. This technical topic is vital for both building surveying and building inspection fields.

For the sake of New Zealand Public, all findings behind this case are to be revealed.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

List of "questionable" recommendations to property buyers given by some legal advisers

Some legal advisers are taking a lot of care for their clients who are in the process of buying houses and keen to give some professional advises to assist buyers in their decision making, here are some examples:

  • Go and find a building inspector, who charges $1000 or more, because you get what you pay for. 
  • You need to get a report, which shows moisture % for every room inspected.
  • Get a report, which shows blue and red colored pictures, the blue spots show you where leaks are.
  • Do thermal report (infrared report) rather than standard inspection report.
  • Apart from building inspection report, go and get structure and geotech engineering reports.
  • Do not buy house with asbestos, as it is toxic.
  • Do not buy plaster house.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Introduction for Moisture Testing in Property Inspection

Timber moisture testing in building surveying can be divided into the following three categories:

  • Destructive testing
  • Invasive testing
  • Non-invasive testing

Destructive testing
Destructive investigation, such as illustrated: 

and followed by laboratory testing is the only way to reveal the timber frame condition of the subject building, but rarely used for a pre-purchase visual inspection if ever can be used at all due to its obvious physical damages to wall cladding. 

Invasive testing
According to the AGREEMENT FOR SALE AND PURCHASE OF REAL ESTATE – Ninth Edition 2012, “The building inspector may not carry out any invasive testing in the course of inspection without the vendor's prior written consent”. 

It is unlikely that any property owner will give permission to a potential buyer to do any probing invasive testing, such as using Trotec T500K, as damages to wall cladding still be substantial. 
Trotec T500K Timber Framing  Moisture Meter
In the event of owner’s approval, pin point moisture meters such as Protimeter Mini or Trotec T500
Protimeter MiniTrotec T500 Timber Moisture Meter

may be used to interior surface such like on skirting boards, on particle floor boards, ceiling plaster board lining and etc. Readings from this type of invasive moisture meters only indicate the moisture content of the incipient surface, which normally be timber skirting board, plaster board, cork, wall paper or combination of some of them, which are not necessarily be a representative of moisture percentage of the underlying timber frame.

Unless otherwise stated and under a written approval of the vendor, invasive testing using pin point moisture meters will only be carried out to timber foundation structure or some parts of exterior wall cladding if necessary.

Non-invasive testing
None of currently available non-invasive moisture meters, such as Trotec T650 or Protimeter Aquant

Trotec T650Protimeter Aquant

can produce moisture content percentage of the material tested. The fact that, significant amount of pre-purchase or pre-sell inspection reports are giving moisture percentage readings for different areas or parts of buildings inspected, does not mean any revolutionary technology advancement. (also refer: 
http://bc.org.nz/moisture.html for further comments made by William Hursthouse regarding abused moisture testing within pre-purchase inspection industry ).

Moisture contents obtained from wall lining surface using any type of non-invasive moisture meters do not equal to moisture content of underlying timber frame.

Depends on detection depth, which normally be within 20 – 40mm, moisture readings obtained with non-invasive type of moisture meters at best are indications of moisture contents of combination of all building materials directly behind the point being tested, which may include skirting board, wall paper, plaster board, insulation material, framing (timber or steel) member and etc. The relationship between non-invasive meter readings and timber moisture contents can only be interpreted by the building inspector based on his/her relevant building knowledge. When high readings can often indicate high moisture contents within underlying timber frame, there are many significant common deviations:

  • High meter reading does not necessarily indicate high moisture content

Surface wetness within wet area can result high readings even when underlying framing structure is dry.
Non-invasive moisture meters can be interrupted by underlying wiring, pipes, metal, foil and produce False Positive Readings.

  • Low meter reading does not necessarily indicate low moisture content

Meter reading depth (normally be 20-40mm) is very limited comparing with wall thickness (can be 120mm or more). External moisture ingress often limited within outer part of timber frame, which is well beyond reading depth of most non-invasive moisture meters;

  • High moisture content may not indicate any issues

It is not uncommon to see some inspectors pointing moisture meters to tiled floor surface around shower waste and concluding shower leaks. But as long as showers are regularly being used, there must be some water siting between underside of tiles and waterproof membrane. That is absolutely normal and that is why we need waterproofing membrane for. In that case high moisture readings may not indicate any issue at all.

  • Low moisture content does not directly indicate soundness of timber frame

As long as dry, rotten timber will not result any high moisture readings. In reality due to weather conditions, repair works in the past, loss of clamping points due to timber dimension change as result of decay, rotten framing can be very dry and therefore may give some False Negative Readings

Thursday, April 18, 2013

有关对James Hardie的诉讼


1. 如果教育部可以打赢这场官司,这将是一个划时代的case law。James Hardie作为Harditex 的生产商将面临建筑行业历史上的最大一笔赔付。相信它无力承担;
2. 如果这一案例能够证明是产品问题,而非设计和施工问题,这一案例将推翻之前所有几千个案子的评判结果。到今天位置,James Hardie被告无数次,但没有一次成功,不过这一次他遇到了强劲对手;
3. 如果产品问题一旦被证明,相关认证机构,如BRANZ是否会被拖下水;
4. 如果产品问题一旦被证明属实,以前的“冤假错案”如何收拾?James Hardie所面临的岂止是教育部的15个亿纽币;
5. 这一问题实际上至少10年前就很清楚,为何教育部今天才决定采取如此的举措,莫非是他们掌握了一定的有份量的证据?
6. 我个人的一贯认为是,7.5mm厚的墙板在没有通风层的情况下无法有效处理墙体中由于温度迅速变化导致的水凝结。这一问题是在施工质量完全符合厂家规定的情况下也会出现的。拭目以待看看从技术层面上讲,教育部是否能够得到有力的证据;
7. 早在2年前就已经有过案例证明在施工和设计完全符合要求的情况下,外墙出现渗漏而导致整体外墙更换,也可能那时候教育部就已经开始酝酿了。既然教育部决定打这场战争,就一定是有备而来,因为业内人士都知道James Hardie是一个从没有人能够啃动的骨头。耐心等待,就像Grimshaw说的,估计结果需要n年以后。

Monday, April 8, 2013







1. 是否有托在这里故意说我们的好话:




2. 我们是否只是做“表面功夫”

这个总结实际上很对,这差不多是对“non-invasive visual inspection”的最完美的翻译。通过购房检测,对所检测的房屋在有限的时间内,不动一草一木的前提下,对重大原则问题得出判断,这种“表面功夫”实际没那么简单,这也是购房检测之所以被视为超高风险行业的主要原因。不要认为测湿仪或红外线就会改变这个“表面功夫”的性质,在购房检测阶段,检测漏水房最关键的还是目测和分析。我的身上装满了各种检测工具,但目前发现的所有问题,都是通过“表面功夫”看出来的。

3. 什么地方我们必须要进入,什么地方我们不必要或者不允许进入:





Monday, March 4, 2013

Inspector's risk - 1

Inspectors had not been the real target in the past when most leakers are within the "10 year frame". But what happens when leakers are expired, i.e. exceeded the "10 year statutory limitation"? In that situation Councils no longer be the last standing party with full pocket. Who can pay you to fix your leaky house if not Council? The answer looks like - the Pre-purchase Inspector.


One reader wondering why Council does not pay. Here is the answer:


The house was eligible and therefore if FAP is selected, 50% of the repair cost would covered by the government and the council. As there is no further WHRS related case, I assume that the owner went for FAP.

Plus the 50% cost recovery from the inspector, the owner's repair cost is fully recovered.

I reckon the inspector in this case is pretty lucky. If this case is outside the 10-year-frame, then the owner would be fighting for 100% cost recovery from the inspector.

Here is the summary of the Case:

Case CIV-2011-485-1308 Hepburn vs. Cunningham

A house built at 2000 with texture coated fibre cement is bought at 2007 by the plaintiff based on a positive "quick check" builder's report issued by the respondent. Although built with wide eaves, apparent cladding defects, such as lack of cladding/ground clearance, omitted by the inspector which is introduced by the agent. No Terms & Conditions form was signed by the plaintiff. 

3 years after the purchase, the house was marketed again and was inspected by RealSure on behalf of a purchaser with a report showing various weathertightness issues. 

The plaintiff subsequently applied through WHRS, which expert recommended partial repair costing 100k. 
The plaintiff gone further through High Court and sought more than 500k for damages with final decision in favor of plaintiff for 360k award with half to be paid by the inspector. 

Issues to be discussed:
Quick check vs. Rolls Royce service
Roles of Terms and Conditions
Significant issues, if not rocket science, to be reported
Duty to give clear advise rather than a report only

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What do You need to do to have a good inspection

Before inspection

Go through terms and conditions of a standard inspection (pre-purchase, pre-sale & maintenance inspections). Inspection will never look right if your expectation is too high. Understanding what we can not do is more important than only knowing what can we do.

Workout the differences between different inspections:

  • Standard building inspection, 
  • Invasive building defects investigations,
  • Specialist inspections, including plumbing, electrical, drainage, engineering, geotechnical and etc
  • Weathertightness investigations
  • Weathertgihtness assessment inspection
  • Moisture testing
  • Thermal imaging
  • Timber decay diagnoses

You will be able to find the suitable inspector only when you know how different they are. If you have employed the wrong type of inspector, then you will unlikely get the result you really wanted, if not resulted with a disaster.

Also see my other post regarding this topic.

During inspection

Do not follow me and ask me questions when I'm in the middle of inspection. I can be easily disturbed and lose my focus.

Do present during inspection and ask me as much questions as possible onsite, rather than on the phone.

Having your whole family talking to me may not be a good idea. You are likely equipped with a smart phone. Record when I presenting on site.

Also see my other post regarding this topic.

After inspection

If more questions to be asked post an inspection, try email us with the questions rather than calling me when I'm standing on my ladder in the middle of an inspection. You may think I know everything anytime for a house I've inspected, but I'm not. I often remember nothing, unless if I get any chance to go though the report over again.

Also see my other post regarding this topic.