Stigma over plaster homes

MARNIE HALLAHAN
Last updated 08:26 06/12/2011
Plaster Stigma
BEN WATSON
HARD TO SELL: Buyers aren't keen on Ray Bush's 1980s plaster-clad home.

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Buyer aversion to monolithic-style homes is causing frustration among sellers and real estate agents.

This style is associated with the leaky home epidemic that has affected 110,000 homes nationally with an estimated repair cost in the billions.

Ray and Robyn Bush's 1980s plaster-clad home is for sale and has been given the green light after a thermal imaging report found no evidence of leaking or moisture build-up.

But it's getting buyers in the door that's the problem, they say.

"People will often not even get out of the car once they see that a house has plaster cladding," Mrs Bush says.

The three bedroom Bayswater house valued at $900,000 has been on the market for two months without any serious interest from buyers regardless of the lowered price of $790,000.

Mr Bush has been told he may need to reclad his home which could cost up to $200,000 in order for it to sell. He says that's outrageous – considering he has certification that it's not a leaky home.

Mr Bush is frustrated that potential buyers are lumping his house with real leaky homes.

But he says he wouldn't necessarily jump into buying another plaster house himself.

"I would have to say that I would be wary."

The stigma around plaster housing experienced by Mr and Mrs Bush is being felt among North Shore real estate agents.

One Harcourts agent titled a Mairangi Bay housing advertisement `In praise of plaster'.

She went on to say: "Let's face it, many houses on the North Shore have been built with plaster cladding and are among the best looking and most liveable houses you will find. Not all are leakers!"

New Zealand Homeowners and Buyers Association chief executive Roger Levie is sympathetic towards owners dealing with fallout from the leaky homes situation.

"A lot of the older houses are constructed with better materials and it is unfair they get tarnished with the same stigma."The real message for buyers is full due diligence."

But Mr Levie warns that regardless of construction, experts have proved that plaster cladding is more likely to fail in its lifetime than other cladding.

Auckland Council has recently lowered the rating value of around 5000 buildings with known weather-tight issues and many thousands more in the same style.

Mr Levie defends the move saying that ratings valuations must keep in line with market values.

"The valuation is a reflection of the world and that is the market view, whether it's right or wrong."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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