What needs to be checked?

Getting professional advice before you buy may save you spending money in future fixing problems you didn’t know about.

For all properties, regardless of age and design, basic checks should include:

  • the condition of the roof (rust, broken tiles, patching)
  • plumbing, including water pressure – check all taps and showers
  • the condition of drainage systems (are there any signs of flooding from a partially blocked sewer or stormwater drain?)
  • electrical wiring – check the switchboard and powerpoints for any discolouration
  • the condition of the piles (underfloor supports)
  • insulation – in the ceiling space, in the walls, under the floor
  • condition of fences, paving and driveways
  • evidence of house movement, such as cracked window sills and doors that don’t close properly
  • any alterations that do not appear on the plan (plans usually can be obtained from the local council for a small fee).

All houses are capable of leaking if not built correctly. However, if a house was built or majorly renovated after the early 1990s, some features are known to increase the risk of leaking, including:

  • monolithic claddings, including texture coated fibre-cement, EIFS (polystyrene boards with a plaster and paint finish) and stucco
  • more than one cladding system used on the house
  • lack of roof overhang or eaves
  • complicated roof design
  • balconies, particularly above rooms
  • internal gutters
  • wall claddings in contact with the ground
  • lack of flashings (waterproofing strips) to windows, doors and chimneys
  • parapets without sloped tops or adequate cap flashings.

Check the property yourself for potential signs of leaking, including:

  • visible water damage
  • cracks in the external cladding
  • mould on ceilings and internal walls
  • walls and skirtings showing signs of bulging and staining.
  • balconies on upper floors, where water cannot freely drain away.

Ask for furniture, floor rugs and pot plants on balconies to be moved, if necessary, to ensure you can thoroughly check for signs of potential leaks and rot.

Older homes can have weathertightness problems if additions or renovations have been undertaken since the early 1990s, or if maintenance of roofs and walls has not been carried out.

Home buyers on the EQC website has further information about things to consider before buying a home in relation to natural disasters

This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: