Serving the greater Auckland Area since 1988
If you suspect you may have a problem with leaks and therefore possibly damage, consider making your first port of call to the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service. This service is run by central government (taxpayer funded). They will do their best to figure out if you have an eligble claim, which is not as easy as it sounds!
If your house was built less than 10 years ago, or the alteration/extension was, you may have an eligible claim. Note that if the work was completed more than 10 years ago, it is less straightforward, but not necessarily hopeless. It used to be that the cut off date was when the work was completed (which might be long before the CCC, if any, was issued).
But then a case was taken to the Supreme Court in June 2014 which challenged this simple rule. This was Osborne v Auckland Council. This provided a new interpretation of what is meant by the word "built" where the Act says:
"s 14 Dwellinghoude claim
The criteria are that the claimant owns the dwellinghouse to which the claim relates; and -
(a) it was built (or alterations giving rise to the claim were made to it) before 1 January 2012 and within the period of 10 years immediately before the day on which the claim is brought;"
To put it very simply, my layman's interpretation is that where previously the issue of the Code Compliance Certificate was not considered to be part of the "building" process, the Appeal Court decided it should be. Meaning anyone who had a leaky home where all the physical work is out of time, but the CCC was issued less than 10 years ago may have a claim - at least against the Council (if they issued the CCC).
If you lodge a claim and it is accepted, in due course an assessor will turn up to have a look. This person will be trying to figure out:
If the answers to all three questions is yes, you move on to the next step - getting a full assessment, which does involve paying about $500. This is all explained on the govt website. The point is - for $500 you get a really good report, the sort of report you would have to pay a consultant anything from three to eight grand for.
Of course there are drawbacks too, and they have to be balanced against the financial savings. The first one is - fairly early on in the process, a notice goes on the property file at your local council. And once there, it doesn't go away. The best you can hope for is (eventually) it gets rendered irrelevant by the layers of subsequent documents showing how everything has been fixed.
The second one is that the WHRS Assessor doesn't work for you. (S)he is an independent expert paid for by the government and is organised by them - this person is not "your" expert. You basically just have to let them get on with it and wait for the report. Once you get that report (assuming the claim is eligible) you will be put on the fast track to a dispute tribunal where (hopefully) other parties may be present who will be persuaded to part with some $ to help you fix your house.
A good perspective on this process from the home owner's side is to be found on the Leaky Homes Action Group website.
There are plenty of houses which are well over then years old and show few if any signs of decay. Unfortunately, an increasingly large number of people are only finding the first evidence of leaks / damage after the house has already passed the ten year cut off date. The difficulty with this is that it may be almost impossible to persuade any one else to pay for remediation if the original work was done more than 10 years prior to anyone noticing a problem. Sometimes this can come down to a matter of days. So if your house is coming up to that 10 year deadline, perhaps you should think seriously about the eligibility report - because, at the moment, lodging a claim "stops the clock".
This can lead to a situation where a builder has thrown his celebratory party 10 years after he finished a house, only to be told a year or two later he has to turn up to Court because someone had lodged a claim within the ten year period, and it took a while before anyone told him. I have seen this happen. In one extreme case I have been involved in, the case was still being argued 18 years after the work was completed.
However, even if you don't get to the Weathertight Services Group (govt) or lodge a claim elsewhere within that 10 year period, you probably still need to know how to fix your house. Perhaps even more so if you are going to have to pay for everything yourself. In this situation you again need a building consultant - and most of the Assessors who contract to the government also work privately, so you could get one of those, or you can choose from the several larger companies specialising in this area.
The Home Owners and Buyers Association of New Zealand for the owner's perspective on the WHRS
Apply for an Eligibility Report from the Weathertight Services
Read the (very comprehensive) Prendos "Leaky Home Guide"