Buying A Leaky Home

The Herald Q & A

8 November 2010
Author: Bruce Symon

Bruce Symon Realsure Director

Bruce Symon Realsure Director

Taking on a “leaky home” requires accurate knowledge about the condition of the home, the weather tightness risks, and the extent of current failures, such as your leaking upper level decking.
Without knowing the extent of these matters, it is important to acknowledge that the fact you have identified an area of failure does raise the likelihood of other areas failing that you may not be aware of.
In light of your query to make your home healthy to live in, there are two aspects to consider, your health and the possibility of compromised structures becoming dangerous.
The health risk causations associated with “leaky homes’ are seldom seen.  They include the mould spores lurking behind claddings, floating through the air, and the damp, humid air that is inhaled.  Complaints can range from itchy skin and sinus problems, through to pneumonia, bronchitis, chronic asthma and more.
Safety becomes the next consideration.  You have advised the upper level is leaking around the deck, which generally means the lower level may be compromised also, as water is gravity directed to the lowest point.   If the Deck is affected, you should ensure the structural integrity has not been damaged.
Specialist investigations and reports should be undertaken by Registered or Accredited Building Weather tightness Surveyors, which should include invasive testing of all identified risk or failure areas.  Air testing would also be recommended to determine whether there are harmful mould spores or contaminants in the air.
Once these facts have been ascertained you are then in a position to determine how best to tackle the problem of your home leaking.  This will also help to determine whether your projected ten year time frame is realistic.  There are a variety of options available from targeted repairs, in-situ timber treatment, all dependent on the findings.  However, to proceed with confidence you will also require suitably knowledgeable Remedial Weather tightness Surveyors, Architects and Builders working with you to successfully rebuild.
I am a firm believer there is a buyer for every property, regardless of condition.  However, a ‘leaky home’ project would not be generally recommended for the novice.