Building consent has been issued and your about to start the construction phase, this is ideally what you should know do..

A building contractor is required to provide you with this checklist and other prescribed information under the Building Act 2004 before you sign a contract for the building work if –
(a) you request this checklist and the prescribed disclosure information; or
(b) the building work is going to cost $30,000 or more (including GST).
The building contractor is the person or company you have asked to do building work for you.
The building contractor may not be an actual builder. The building contractor could be a plumber, an electrician, or any other trades person who is doing some building work for you and whom you are dealing with directly.
(See notes below)
You will need to tick these off when completed:

  • Become informed (read this website)
  • Agree on project structure and management
  • Hire competent building contractors
  • Agree on price and payments
  • Have a written contract
  • Take control
  • Resolving disputes

Step 1 – Become informed
All building work must comply with the provisions of the Building Act 2004. You can find a copy of the Building Act 2004 on the New Zealand Legislation website: www.legislation.govt.nz
Building work is any work done in relation to the construction or alteration of a building. This includes any work done on your home or other structure, such as a garage, retaining walls, and fences. It also includes work like painting, decorating, and landscaping if it is part of the construction or alteration of a building.
However, if the only work you are getting done is redecorating and there is no construction or alteration work involved, it is not building work. If landscaping work does not include any structures (eg, pergolas or retaining walls), it is also not building work.
All building work requires a building consent unless it is exempt under the Building Act 2004.
Generally, only simple or low-risk work is exempt from the requirement to have a building consent. Certain gas and electrical work is also exempt. For more information, go to www.mbie.govt.nz
Building work that is significant or of higher risk (such as structural alterations) requires a building consent and must be carried out or supervised by a licensed building practitioner. For more information on these requirements, go to the MBIE Building site here or read further on
Step 2 – Agree on project structure and management
Building projects do not run themselves. Decide how you want to manage the building project.
A few different roles are needed on a building project. You need someone to –

  • manage timelines and costs:
  • manage subcontractors:
  • liaise with the local council:
  • make decisions about the design of the work.
  • You can do some of this yourself, but if you are not knowledgeable about the building work process, you should get help from an architect, an independent project manager, a building company, or a licensed building practitioner who is licensed to co-ordinate the building work involved.
  • You should be really clear about the scope and size of the project and get detailed plans up front.

Be clear with your building contractor about who is doing the building work and who is responsible for making design and change decisions during the project.
Step 3 – Hire competent building contractors
Ensure that your building contractor has the skills and resources to carry out the project.
You should:

  • ask around about the building contractor and get references for other work that the building contractor has done:
    find out if the building contractor is a licensed building practitioner or has other appropriate qualifications. For more information about licensed building practitioners, go to www.mbie.govt.nz or go here…
  • determine whether the building contractor has sufficient insurance to cover the work while it is being carried out:
  • ask about the building contractor’s employees and what subcontractors the building contractor will use on the project:
  • if the building contractor is a company, look up its company records on the Companies Office’s Internet site. If your search raises concerns, ask the building contractor to explain.

Step 4– Agree on price and payments
The contract should clearly state what payments are required and when. Where possible, a fixed price is preferable. The lowest price is not always the best price.
You should –

  • get detailed quotes (not estimates) for the building work:
  • when comparing quotes, ensure that the scope of the building work and the materials and fixtures that you are comparing are the same across quotes so that you are “comparing apples with apples”:
  • make sure you have the funds to pay for the project before the work begins and that you understand the payment terms agreed with the building contractor:
  • think carefully before agreeing to pay more than the cost of the work that has been completed and the costs of any materials that have been supplied at the time you make the payment.

Couple sitting on floor, by blue prints, elevated view
Step 5 – Have a written contract
You should have a written contract. The contract should include items such as –

  • a description of the building work:
  • the start and completion dates for the building work:
  • how variations to the building work will be agreed:
  • the payment process, including dates or stages for payment and how payments will be invoiced, made and receipted:
  • the dispute resolution processes to be followed.

You should obtain legal advice to ensure that you understand your rights and obligations and that the contract complies with all legal requirements.
Note: The Building Act 2004 requires that there must be a written contract for residential building work with a value of $30,000 or more (including GST), and the Building (Residential Consumer Rights and Remedies) Regulations 2014 prescribe matters that must be included in every contract for residential building work with a value of $30,000 or more. You can find a copy of the Building Act 2004 and the Building (Residential Consumer Rights and Remedies) Regulations 2014 on the New Zealand Legislation website.


Step 6 – Take control
Building work is covered by implied warranties prescribed by the Building Act 2004 that address matters such as workmanship and building work being fit for purpose. For more information, go to www.mbie.govt.nz
You should –

  • make sure there is a clear line of communication with the building contractor through the site foreman, the project manager, or any other person who has authority to speak on behalf of the building contractor. (This person should be identified as the “key contact person” in the prescribed disclosure information that the building contractor has provided along with this checklist):
  • when you are making decisions along the way, be clear as to whether those decisions will affect your contract and costs.

If you do decide to make a change, keep track of the effect of that change.
Step 7 – Resolving disputes
It is in both your interests and the building contractor’s interests to keep the building project running smoothly and to deal with any disputes as they arise.

  • If you have concerns about the building project, raise them with the building contractor (or the key contact person) as soon as possible.
  • Raise your concerns in good faith and use the dispute resolution processes agreed to in your contract. For information on your options, go to www.mbie.govt.nz
  • If you have received an invoice that you have concerns about, clearly outline your concerns to the building contractor in writing.
  • If you fail to make a payment when it is due, the building contractor might start dispute resolution proceedings before you have a chance to explain why you have not paid. (Simply withholding payment when there is a dispute will often make the situation worse.)


Things to Consider include:

  • Matching the style and materials already used in the house or adding something that is different (but still, ideally, complementary)
  • Is it time to change elements in the old house, for instance wooden to aluminium joinery; updating bathroom fittings, new tiles
  • Adding new technologies, such as computer cabling or underfloor heating if replacing tiles (highly recommended)
  • Moving walls
  • Retro-fit insulation (highly recommended)
  • Adding storage (highly recommended)
  • Do you really want to match light fittings and bathroomware to the old style prevalent in the house or should you use modern items?

Hidden problems of Renovations
Bathrooms are particularly susceptible to issues around water leaks, but th e leaky homes issue in recent years has shown that leaks are not restricted to this area. Poor workmanship in previous renovations or even the original build may have serious implications for the work you’re planning.

These are items you may be mentally and emotionally prepared for, but when the reality hits and your budgets are blown out, things may be quite different. Be aware that there may well be nasty surprises so make sure you have contingency in your budget..
Keeping that warning in mind, renovating or adding to your house can be an exciting and very rewarding exercise. You already know the good and bad points to your home. If you like where you live, then improving the house you already know so well can dramatically improve your quality of life and improve its capital value.

Asbestos Warning:
Many NZ houses built between 1940 and 1990 have asbestos in the building products used – lino being one example, fibrolite and textured ceilings. Generally there is limited danger if the material is not touched but if you’re wanting to remove materials and your house is of this vintage, make sure you test for asbestos before doing any demolition works.



A ‘Leaky Homes’ became a huge concern for home owners through the 1990s and 2000s as more and more examples of poorly built homes that leaked to the point where mold and rotting timber endangered health and safety, not to mention the damage to owners’ financial well-bing.
There were several reasons for the disaster, the main ones being new, cheaper house designs using production materials such as untreated timber cladding and monolithic cladding that wasn’t installed properly or was improperly maintained, leading to homes that rotted, a housing boom that saw many unskilled builders building. The bad news is that leaky homes are still being built and that defects aren’t restricted to homes that leak. This page deals specifically with ‘Leaky Homes’, the causes and what to watch out for.
Be aware, all homes leak. It becomes an issue when the water is not dealt with and affects the integrity of the house. Modern designs, materials and construction techniques address many of these issues but there is still risk.
The best time to deal with weathertightness is at the design stage where different options can be considered and changes are easily made to the plans. It is important for the designer, builder and owner to look at the risks associated with the proposed building and reduce these to acceptable levels before building.

Sometimes materials are used in ways for which they are not specifically designed or are poorly maintained, leading to cracking and leaking. Make sure you are aware of the maintenance requirements of all specified materials for your home –incorrect or lack of maintenance will often mean your product’s warranty becomes void. It is now mandatory for your builder to give you a maintenance shedule.
Modern designs can also have insufficient level difference between the floor of a building and the surface outside. An adequate level difference is necessary if the building is to meet the performance requirements of the Building Code in regard to external moisture provisions.
Information supplied courtesy of BRANZ
Get Help Here
For more information on weathertightness iniatives, visit Weathertight.org.nz or, if you think you have a problem with your home that is leaking, then contact the Home Owners and Buyers Association for advice here…
You must begin a claim within ten years of the Compliance Certificate being issued. Act sooner rather than later.
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Common Design Issues Leading to Leaking
Decks enclosed by solid walls. These walls usually have a textured finish and a flat top surface (also textured) with a handrail fixed to it. Water cannot drain from the surface and the weather-proofing skin has been penetrated by the fixings or the rail support, making these walls almost impossible to waterproof. It may then take only six months for serious deterioration of wall framing to occur.
Wall-cladding materials finished hard down onto a deck surface or paving or paths. By doing this the cladding will absorb water from the surface it is finished onto. Any water that might pass through the cladding is also prevented from draining out at the bottom. It’s even worse if wall cladding materials are taken below the ground level or if landscaping materials, such as mulch, are built up against the wall. Materials that are continuously damp will deteriorate faster.
Waterproof decks constructed with the deck surface close to the same height as the building floor with no provision for the water that will fall onto the surface. Often there is no fall to drain the water away from the building and no overflows. When the outlet blocks, the only place for the water to go is inside the building.
Buildings with suspended timber floors require the space below the floor to be ventilated to remove moisture that evaporates from the ground. It is common, particularly in renovation projects, to see vents blocked by decks, paving, planters or soil. Restricting the ventilation rate significantly increases the risk of dampness and mould within the buildings and also the potential for damp-related deterioration.
Other Design/Detailing Concerns
  • Using sealant instead of properly designed flashings
  • Designing parapet walls without a cap flashing or slope to drain water from them
  • Not installing head and sill flashings to windows
  • Not installing kick-outs or diverters to apron flashings where roofs abut wall surfaces – kick-outs are necessary to ensure that water flows into the gutter and not down inside the walls
  • Using design features that penetrate the cladding, such as projecting timber beams or handrails. It is almost impossible to effectively and durably waterproof these penetrations
  • Not allowing for movement in monolithic claddings and tiled finishes – these finishes require movement control joints to allow building movement to occur without cracking
  • Following building trends that ignore features known to provide some weather protection, such as eaves and drip edges to the base of claddings and above windows, though be aware that even houses with eaves have been known to leak.
  • Poor or no detailing of junctions between materials

Leaky Home Checklist
If you already have a home with monolithic cladding these are the things you should look out for when doing routine maintenance:

  • Black spotted mould on inside walls or ceilings (mould may also form on walls and ceilings because of internal moisture).
  • Swollen architraves or MDF skirtings.
  • Stained timber window or door trims.
  • Stained carpet.
  • A general feeling of dampness next to doors or below windows.

Exterior Cladding
Pay particular attention to corners and junctions in the cladding. Remember monolithic cladding relies on the paint coating to keep your home weathertight. Look for paint that has:

  • Cracks.
  • Worn areas.
  • Surface bubbling.
  • Ridging.
  • Peeling.
  • Any signs of lifting or de-lamination.
  • Thin or transparent areas, particularly on exposed corners.
  • Penetrations to walls
  • Check around the meter box and any pipes penetrating the wall cladding to ensure they are flashed or sleeved.
  • Decorative features must not penetrate the cladding and all fixings should be sealed.
  • Check where fascias and gutters meet a wall surface. The paint finish should be continuous behind the end of the gutter and the roof junction should be flashed.


  • The roof should be checked for build up of debris that could track or hold water.
  • Ensure all flashings are securely fixed and provide a secure overlap to the roofing, especially around penetrations from flues, vents and other services. If in doubt get the advice of a reliable roofing company.
  • Check the clearance of claddings from the roof surfaces and flashings (click here for a glossary of building terms). It should be possible to easily run your hand under the cladding to enable the underside to be re- painted when needed.
  • Ensure that there is a kick-out where a roof ends in a wall surface.
  • Ensure that diverters are correctly fitted.
  • Under or over windows
  • Check for missing flashings, particularly head and sill flashings. If they are fitted they will be visible on the outside.
  • Check the flashings to ensure they slope to the outside to spill water over the window or door-frame. Check at the ends to ensure they will not allow water to flow inwards at their ends.
  • For curved windows check that the flashing has a stop-end to direct water to the exterior and not allow water to enter behind the wall cladding.
  • Check the jambs to ensure they are sealed to the cladding.
  • Check the corners of cladding on recessed windows – particularly check that there are no hairline cracks in the paint finish.

Solid Handrails

  • Where the texture coating is carried over the balustrade leaks may not be visible. If you are unsure contact a building consultant for advice. The most reliable check is to measure the moisture content of the timber framing. This is best done using a moisture meter with probes through two small holes in an area that is not exposed.
  • The timber floor structure should also be checked from the underside.

At Ground Level

  • Check the clearance of the cladding from the ground. Options may be to lower a built- up garden area or provide paving that falls away from the house, but if this is not possible seek expert help.
  • Check doorways and imagine how any flooding or puddles of rainwater might affect the doorway. Water does not need to flow through the doorway to cause problems, but may flow under the sill. It is possible that water might also enter through splashing. The ground may need to be re-contoured, or in the worst case, doors removed and raised.


  • Ensure there is space between timber decks and cladding. It is important to regularly remove leaves and other debris caught up in the gaps.
  • Waterproof decks should have no areas of lifting membrane. Joints should be tight and there should be no water ponding anywhere on the surface. The membrane should have a positive coving at all edges, including under doors. Check for nicks in the membrane.
  • Paint-on membranes require regular checking and may become punctured even with a protective layer of tiles. Have these membranes checked annually and do not put off re-coating if the membrane is wearing.
  • Make certain all drainage and overflows are clear. The overflow height should be at least 50mm below any floor area, and below any deck coving at walls or doorways. If you have any doubts, seek expert advice. Some decks have been constructed with untreated timber and may become dangerous if moisture has got into the framing.
  • If you suspect that your home has weather tightness problems, seek expert advice

Information supplied courtesy of Consumerbuild