10 tell-tale signs you have a leaky home

Article by Homes to Love

Buying a leaky home can have devastating effects, not only on a family’s health but on the owner’s ability to on-sell the property and pay for repairs.  The last thing you want to hear is that your home contains a leak. Here are 10 signs to look out for…

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What is a leaky home?

A leaky home is one in which external sources of water make their way inside a home. If water enters particular types of cladding, it can become trapped in the drainage or ventilation between the cladding and when the framework is inadequate, this has disastrous results such as fungal growth and rotting.

Some homes that were built from the mid 1990s onward were constructed without meeting the New Zealand Building Code. These poorly constructed buildings couldn’t withstand New Zealand’s weather conditions, allowing unwanted water into the home. They were often built with untreated timber or contained design features like flat roofs with inappropriate cladding. As well as untreated timber, a leaky home can be an effect of faulty cladding systems, inappropriate use of building materials and design issues.

Top 10 signs of a leaky home

1. Leaking
If dripping or pooling forms in your interior while there is rain outside, it is highly likely you have a leak.

2. Ceiling lining sagging
Water from the roof may lead its way to your ceiling or internal wall where it is absorbed by the ceiling lining, creating sagging in the walls and ceiling of your home.

3. Screws and nails that are rusty
Corrosion of fixings such as screws and nails can result from weather-tight issues and leaks.

4. Floor surfaces are warped
Uneven floor surface, such as vinyl becoming raised off the ground, can be the result of the deterioration of timber piles. Untreated timber that becomes wet is a major contributing factor towards a leaky home.

5. Mould or fungi 
Although mould and fungi can be a result of poor ventilation, the combination of the two on surfaces is another sign of a leaky home. One way this can become evident is through coloured or stained walls.

6. Musty smells
The smell of mould, water and mildew is a result of external water making its way inside a house, creating a musty smell. Though more often than not there is no noticeable smell.

7. Swollen materials
A leak can be absorbed by building materials, such as skirtings and architraves, which then creates swelling or bulging of a material.

8. Rotten or stained carpet
During heavy rain, water can leak through your roof and into your carpet. Look for damp or rotting carpet or rusty carpet fixing such as nails or staples.

9. Large cracks appearing
Cracks in the exterior wall plaster, cladding or in the internal Gib board. If the cladding is poorly sealed or is penetrated by other elements like gutters or pergolas, water might be able to find its way into the interior.

10. Home is built with risky materials

If the home is constructed from Stucco plaster, textured fibred cement, it’s multi-storied, there are overhanging eaves or it was constructed from 1998-2004 (considered very high risk) there is a risk it’s a leaky home


Which design features are prone to causing leaky homes?

  • Homes with flat roofs or roofs with parapets
  • Home with more than one storey with a flat roof or a Mediterranean-style design
  • Roof to wall junctions
  • Pergola fixings
  • Handrail fixings
  • Decks over living areas
  • Roofing with skylights, parapets

If you discover you have a leaky home do something as soon as possible to prevent further deterioration. Owning a leaky home can bring consequences to your health, such as respiratory illnesses like asthma and colds, and cost a lot to get fixed. If buyers want to check whether a property they are interested in leaks, the New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors can provide details of its registered members who can carry out inspections.

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