Affluent Auckland suburbs high in potentially leaky homes: Relab.co.nz
Some of the most affluent parts of Auckland are also potentially most at risk of leaky homes, a new website suggests.
Remuera, Gulf Harbour, Parnell and St Heliers are among the city's top five suburbs for having plaster houses built in the decade when leaky homes became a big problem, 1994 to 2004.
Henderson was the only more affordable suburb on the list.
The data was sourced from Auckland Council records and user-submitted data by property website Relab.co.nz.
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The houses are classified as "roughcast" by the council but Relab spokesman Bill Ma said it was important to stress that they were not necessarily leaky.
Chris Davis, managing director of specialist building company Forme Reclad, said affluent areas were hit hard by the leaky home crisis because of a technique favoured by developers of big homes.
"Solid plaster homes" involved a plaster coat over the top of solid framing and a backing board.
"It was quite an expensive system, it looked like a big masonry home, which is plaster over brickwork, but it wasn't ... Anyone who wanted the big expensive cladding, that's what they went for."
Henderson was on the list because it had a lot of housing built with a different leak-prone technique - an 8mm sheet with tape over the joins and a light skim over the top.
"You had the lower socio-economic plaster look and the high socio-economic plaster look," Davis said.
Not all plaster houses could be tarred with the leaky housing brush, however.
"I mean we used to have the art deco homes that were solid plaster as well, but they weren't built the same, with the same parapets and flat roofs and membrane roofs - that's why they didn't leak."
Nevertheless, many plaster houses built in latter years had been in cross-lease or subdivided situations where cost had been a factor.
"The cheaper you could built them for, the more profit you could make. It was all maximum impact, minimum dollar."
Davis also had concerns that the work being done to fix leaky houses could stall if house prices fell.
Banks had been prepared to lend for that work because people's equity had risen with the housing boom.
"But if the housing market takes a dive, the banks will pull the funding on those places and it could take more decades to get right."
ANY HOUSE CAN LEAK
Sally Grey, Auckland Council's weather-tightness and compliance manager, said while monolithic clad houses were more susceptible to leaks, any house could be prone.
"No area is immune, although clearly some areas have had a bigger new building programme than other areas, therefore have a higher concentration of houses built through the problem years"
She said the council did not keep records on where plaster houses were concentrated, but it did keep track of leaky houses that were fixed or were in litigation.
Relab's Bill Ma said his suburban breakdown on plaster housing was for reference only.
"And we would recommend home buyers or owners update the data on our website as well as seeking professional building inspectors for advice".
He had not been able to find data which was more specific about which plastic houses were most at risk.
It was impossible to say, for example, which houses had been built with treated timber, or had a cavity system or had been well maintained.
"The best we can do is to classify the roughcast properties constructed between 1994 to 2004 as 'potentially leaky' and deduct some value in our valuation model to reflect the market."
AROUND THE COUNTRY
Leaky housing is not just an Auckland problem. MBIE's Weathertight Services has received 7,356 claims for mediation or financial help, involving 12,767 properties around the country
Common features of problematic houses include flat roofs or roofs with parapets, decks over living areas, lack of flashings around windows or joins and houses where the interior floor level was below ground level.
"However, having one or more of these features – or a certain type of cladding – doesn't mean a property will have weathertight issues," a spokesperson said.
"The only way to determine a property's weathertightness is through inspection."
Auckland suburbs with the highest number of roughcast housing built 1994-2004 (excluding apartments):
Remuera - 711 out of 10.292 houses
Henderson: 547 out of 11,766 houses
Gulf Harbour: 478 out of 2155
Parnell: 440 out of 3244
St Heliers: 439 out of 4906