Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What sort of remedial work will be needed?

This question has been asked hundred times whenever a cladding defect or issue is shown up in an inspection report, specially in the background of monolithic type wall cladding.

We can be relatively relaxed when talking "verbally" regarding various alternative solutions and possible ball park figures. But when being specifically asked "officially", it might be not that easy to give a clear answer. Here are some of the reasons why we can be quite struggling in giving a clear answer:

  1. I may simply not know the right solution how to remediate the cladding defects. That is so understandable during a pre-purchase inspection stage, when in reality, we might only allocate a few minutes for the subject defect which got mentioned in the report among hundreds of other issues. You may think that I'm not competent. But even when I carry out defect investigations, a particular defect may take me days or weeks to workout why it can go wrong or is it really wrong, before even start to think how can we get it right. 
  2. Different client may have totally different expectations regarding how far a remedial work need to go. Simply stop leaks by squeezing a tube of silicon? Or tape it so it won't leak for a couple of years? or retro-fit a piece of flashing so it won't leak for a while? or check if any damaged timber need to be replaced? or replace any damaged timber and also redesign the cladding junction so it will never leak? or more funny question: what about if we think it leaked, but it did not?
  3. What about if different Council officers or different Council divisions may have different requirements in terms of what time of remedial work can be consented? Some Councils may simply reject issuing consent for any target repair works for direct fixed monolithic wall cladding, but other Councils may be relax with what so ever you what to do. 
  4. What about if no designers and contractors are willing to take care of any target repair works for direct fixed monolithic wall cladding? By the way this is the reality when everybody got enough workload. 
  5. What about if no consents can be obtained from neighbors within the crosslease property? Do other neighbors have to give you the consent?
  6. More importantly, no defects exist in isolation. Most defects within a building are some how related directly or indirectly. Solution simply can not be given to any single defect without considering the background of the whole building or the whole complex. 
We are sorry to discuss this topic, but it is terribly true that we can not give you too much information regarding any remedial solution in terms of monolithic cladding defects in the background of pre-purchase non-invasive visual inspection. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A significant case to be followed

See the following new on Herald for some background:

Leaky home owner has 'arguable case' against seller

Can also see the case summary listed on High Court website for a clear picture:

Edwards v Cull [2014] NZHC 1556 (1 July 2014)

The case has just kicked off and yet to have a long journey to go, can easily drag years to finalise. There are 13 respondents involved, including the previous owner, real estate agent, builder, engineer, inspectors, and of course Council. 

Here is the simplified summary of the case process up to date:

The current owner Edwards bought the St Helier's "concrete" house back early 2011 from the previous owner Culls, which showed a positive inspection report produced by Dwell Healthy Homes (Dwell) during marketing of the property. Being impressed by Dwell's report, Edwards have engaged another inspector Chris Underwood, which has found some high moisture spots and recommended further invasive inspections. Chris's report was challenged by Dwell, which indicated to Edwards that Chris is not competent. Some how Edwards decided to trust the previous owner's inspector, went ahead to the auction and bought the house, which found 2 years later to be seriously leaking and needs some 700k for repair works. 

This first stage court decision has found that: Edwards have got some solid stands to sue the previous owner Culls, even though the "positive" report is not produced by Culls, and Culls never had any clue the house was leaking. While this has got nothing to say that Edwards will win the case, this case is worth to be seriously monitored as it may become a floodgate from the following aspects:

  • Vendor may be liable for a cosmetic inspection report showed to potential buyers during marketing stage;
  • An inspector producing a cosmetic report for a vendor may become liable for potential buyers;
  • Vendor may be liable for opinions given by his/her real estate agent and inspector;
  • Councils may be liable for concrete leaky buildings, which leaked, but may not be suffering structure integrity issue.
There are going to be some more related hot topics such as:
  • How to judge which inspector is competent for doing inspections?
  • Which inspector can be relied on, the Vendor's or the Buyer's?
  • How the Joint and several liabilities in a more complicated background can work (All 13 respondents are "Live"). 
The case can also remind some arguable concepts:
  • Who said post 2005 houses would be safe?
  • Who said cavity based houses would be safe?
  • What said Limitations and Disclaimers will make inspectors safe?
  • Who said concrete house will be OK?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Vendor's duty to disclose major defects.

We have carried out an inspection and issued a report during May 2013, in which moisture issues within converted ground floor space were raised to the purchaser.

Subsequently the purchaser expressed concerns to the real estate agent, which assured that the moisture has caused due to splash water from stored fish tanks.

Somehow major leaks observed following a heavy rainfall soon after settlement date. Of cause we were called back for further investigation. Our opinion was: the leaks are likely caused due to defective waterproofing and inadequate drainage discharge to the concrete block wall. The leaks were triggered and worsened by the accidental gutter damages caused by the house moving truck.

Following further inquiries and investigations, it was revealed that the vendor has engaged an drainlayer to carry out tanking and drainage work for the ground floor alteration before marketing the property and the drainlayer was called back to investigate the tanking failure just before settlement date.

Now the vendor is getting sued through district tribunal. A first hearing is due end of this week. I was told to expect a witness phone call from the tribunal. It is going to be a interesting to see the whole process. The real estate agent is likely to get jointed at a later stage.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Verbal report - a controversial type of inspection

We are doing building inspections in accordance with NZS4306, where it is clearly stated that a written report is to be issued as a part of the inspection service.

There are certain inspection companies, which are rejecting to carry out any verbal-only inspection because of the following reasons:

  • Non-compliance with NZS4306;
  • Lack of control in regard of what inspectors are talking about on site;
  • Potential liability due to lack of written proof;
  • Potential inconsistency between verbal consultation and written report;
  • lack of control to what type of questions being asked on site by clients.

We still keep providing verbal inspection service for many reasons, which I have explained in the past and will provide further opinions later on. Here is a fresh case just happened a couple of days ago:

A client called from a small town outside Auckland inquiring about an urgent verbal-only inspection for a house to be auctioned next day. Reasons for verbal consultation would be simple: firstly, client has never seen the house by eye; secondly, time is so limited that there is no way we can issue the report at the same day, furthermore, client is waiting to make the decision regarding auction attendance based on our inspection result.

We have provided the verbal only inspection service. The first thing we have told the client is that the house is directly under a high voltage power line. This factor would be so obvious for normal buyers, but the client is not aware of that, simply because never seen the house by eye and there is no such information disclosed by the vendor and the real estate agent on the advertisement.

It is to be clarified that, verbal consultation is not regarded as a full inspection, but should be regarded as a major part of the inspection. When time is constrained, this type of consultation is the only way a inspector can deliver valuable information to the client. Though all should be agreed that a written report eventually is to be issued if client has ended up buying the inspected property.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Common misunderstandings - Leaking cladding material

Leaking cladding materials are commonly used to describe some monolithic type of cladding materials, such as texture coated fibre cement, EIFS, solid plaster and etc.
We receive phone calls almost everyday asking questions such like: We interested in a house, but got HardieTex cladding, can I buy it? The house is chilly bin house, will it leak?

If leaky buildings are defined based on types of wall cladding only, then we can simply put a label on each house "leaker" or "non-leaker". But nothing that easy. Contributors causing leaky building syndrome are many: Design, workmanship, location, framing treatment, maintenance and so on. I would categorize cladding material as part of design consideration rather than a separate driven factor causing leaky building syndrome. Every single type of wall cladding has its pros and cons. As long as material characteristics are fully taken into consideration during design stage, even paper can be fully weathertight.

While doing wall cladding inspection, first thing we do is to identify the type of wall cladding used. Then we do not make our conclusion about leaker or non-leaker straight after identifying the cladding type. We need to carry out detailed examination about design and construction details based on the type of cladding and other factors.

There are problematic building materials, but non of them can be categorized as Leaking material. In fact any cladding material, while wrongly used, can be problematic.

对批灰房的检测新趋势 Latest Trend in Inspecting Monolithic Houses


  1. 很多人被动检测,即律师或者银行或者保险公司要求,而非买家要求;
  2. 买家对批灰房的状况大致已经认可,只要银行同意贷款就买;
  3. 买家中很多是业内人士,对这类房子的理解已经到一定的深度;
  4. 批灰房的整体状况良好,几乎没有任何一个批灰房有明显的漏水迹象;
  5. 买家对检测人员的要求上升到新的高度,即不是简单的使用仪器测湿和罗列湿度指数,而是需要对设计,施工质量,维护历史,当前表现,将来预见,维护方法,维护费用,换外墙设计,换外墙费用以及换外墙可行性等进行系统分析;
  6. 银行对批灰房的放贷不再是一刀切,而是具体情况具体分析,对检测报告的审查不再是只看指数,而是看全面分析;
  7. 中介在卖房过程中只是简单提供手头信息,而不做进一步评论;
  8. 询问红外线检测的比列逐渐下降,甚至已经有部分客人被告知红外线检测报告不可信;
  9. 询问湿度报告客人的比列逐渐下降。大部分客人变得相对理智,要求在检测的过程中要包含对湿度的评价;
  10. 售价完全不反映房屋实际情况,事实上有些很好的房子被中介或者房东当作漏水屋来卖。


Tuesday, May 27, 2014



  1. 对新西兰的房产状况不甚了解,按照对国内房产的审核方式来筛选这里的房产;
  2. 买房前缺乏独立的第三方的把关。在合同无条件之前不听取律师的建议,合同变成无条件后才交送到律师手里,已经没有回旋余地;
  3. 由于大部分海外买家是现金买家,也就自然得不到银行对房产的审核。有很多新西兰本地的人也会不经意买漏水房或问题房,但经常是迫于银行要求做房屋检测,才发现房产有严重问题,也算是幸运。
  1. 没有有效的付款追讨机制。如果买家做完检测后不付款,检测人员基本没有有效办法来追帐;
  2. 大部分海外买家也不愿意在没有看到检测结果之前和在没有确定检测服务是否满意之前做预付;
  3. 一部分海外买家会自然产生侥幸心理,觉得距离感很安全,没有付款的紧迫感;
  4. 国内的三角债,托帐等心态很普遍,很自然的被应用到这一服务当中;


Friday, March 28, 2014


Linea weatherboard 是水泥纤维材质的外墙版,模仿bevel back weatherboard 的形状,成分中含有一定陶瓷类的东西,目的是为了减轻单位重量。特点是易打理,适合深色油漆,对油漆的粘合性好,不腐烂,抗水性好,不易变形。由于通风,渗水,挡雨等的物理特性和普通bevel back木墙板类似,没有理由担心这种外墙本身会导致严重漏水问题,何况漏水和外墙种类并没有直接关系。换句话说,采用什么样的外墙,如果在设计和施工方面有问题,都有可能漏水。

由于板材本身以及配料辅料都相对木墙板贵些,安装时需要先钻孔(pre-drill before nailing)再加上需要不同种类的切割工具以及额外粉尘防护手段等,导致这种外墙面的安装费用相对普通木墙板会贵些。针对经济适用房和过于普通的房屋,采用linea的不多,但某些建筑公司,尤其是造中高端房子的公司经常用这种材料。

这种材料的历史只有不到20年,但水泥纤维板材的历史已经有几十年了,以此类推,它的实际寿命应该不会少于50年,也就是说会远远超过法定的15年最低寿命,当然影响寿命的主要因素中还有维护,这里就不再多说了。就板材的物理表现,我没有发现有很多问题案例。我检测的用这类材料的房子中只有一例有严重施工质量问题(注意是施工质量而不是材料本身问题)。由于普通的小规模建筑公司不太用linea,采用它的公司又大多是有一定信誉的公司,所以根据我们检测的结果还是表现不错的。我本人比较偏好这种材料,我在04年以后就没有再用过普通的木墙板(pine weatherboard)。

当然有些人说这种材料将来会有问题,甚至有些kiwi builder也说过类似的话,但目前并没有任何理论和实际的根据。材料研究机构实际上对目前采用的所有外墙材料都有全面的测试和研究。我还没有看到任何一个针对linea的很负面的研究报告。一般如果问题出现是先从个案开始,而后引起专业人士的注意,再加以调查研究,最后才会到媒体曝光,然后是尽人皆知,再被小题大作,或过分解读。如果和漏水房问题相比较,漏水房问题是在90年代初就有了很全面系统的业内调查报告,但大众是在10年以后才逐渐明白,相关法律的出台就更滞后了。就此分析,即使我的分析不具有权威性,那我至少没有看到任何一个权威性的警告分析。我所看过的所有房屋署的评判报告(determination)以及漏水房调解法庭(WHT)案列中没有发现一例是针对linea的诉讼。至于传言(rumor ),我不感兴趣。

Tuesday, January 21, 2014




1. 购房检测报告(pre-purchase inspection report)都包括什么
购房检测报告是属于状况报告(condition report)的一个种类。很明显,需要对房屋的各个部位的状况进行描述。具体到房顶,种类,大致年龄,目前整体状况,具体部位状况,常见隐患,历史问题,注意事项应该都有所说明。这些解释和说明通常有如下作用:便于买家对房屋的整体了解,以便于日后维护和监测,明确表明检测人员对于房屋的理解,作为买卖双方协商和讨价还价的证据等等。基于此,如果你的铁皮房顶有螺钉松动,生锈,锈蚀,油漆剥落,挡雨板老化(loose fixings, surface corrosion, corroded spots, paint flaking or peeling, flashing deterioration and etc)等等一系列问题,这些问题不应被检测人员疏忽,虽然这些问题并不意味房子在检测过程中正在漏水。

2. 是否只有下雨的时候才能够看出来漏不漏
可以这样说,但漏水隐患是应该在任何天气状况下可以看出来的。对于“当时是否正在漏水”这一问题的回答当然需要有一定环境,如是否正在下雨,是否下过雨,雨量大小,风速,风向,人为掩盖等等。如果检测人员把界定是否当时漏水作为检测的目的和唯一行为(If observing current leakage is the only aim and action of the building inspector),这个人应该早晚会有麻烦。每一个检测人员都有可能在检测过程中漏掉或没能发现正在漏的区域,只要是在“尽职尽责”的框架内都是可以理解的,但对房屋的整体评价和对状况以及隐患的分析评估应该不受外界因素的影响。这一原则尤其适用对漏水房的检测,因为漏水房的贴点是:都是在建成后的一定时间以后才开始漏,大部分的漏店无法目测到或用仪器探测到,卖家都要在绝佳的天气状况下和进行了一定的粉饰后才会拿出来卖。这些虽然会导致检测人员无法测到当时的漏水,但不应该影响他对这个房子的结论。
虽然下雨会有助于观测到漏水,其实有时候反而会对检测有负面影响,例如,检测人员可能会产生错觉,认为如果下雨都不漏,那应该就没问题。其实不然,漏水的源头不只是雨水,还有凝结水,风力驱动和虹吸(condensation, wind driven rain, capillary action and etc)等等。下雨还有可能限制检测人员的行动,如不能够爬入或者攀上某些区域。不过有经验的检测人员应是全天候的。

3. 如果检测后的房子发生漏水后第一反映应该是什么

4. 检测行业纠纷解决的相关法律途径

其他的可能投诉机构还有NZIBS, NZIBI, LBP, BOINZ等等,但要取决于检测人员所属机构。