Betterment factsheet

If you’re a homeowner repairing a leaky home through the Financial Assistance Package (FAP), this factsheet will help you and your designer to understand what qualifies as betterment.

When you prepare your repair plan with your designer, you may choose to include building work that goes beyond what is necessary for a like-for-like repair. If it costs more, this additional work is called betterment.

You cannot claim the costs of betterment under the FAP.

Betterment and repairs

Betterment may be directly related to your weathertight repairs, or it may be unrelated building work that you want to undertake at the same time as your repairs.

If you have work that relates to your repairs but constitutes betterment, it could be because:

  • the work is different to the repairs recommended by the assessment report (or any other work we determine is necessary)

  • the work costs more than the work recommended in the assessment report

  • the work is not justified by factual evidence.

Betterment that relates to your repairs

Work that must be done to achieve Building Code compliance for weathertightness will not be betterment. But work that relates to your repair scope, but is not required for a like-for-like repair is betterment (if it costs more). This might be:

  • removing your parapets and internal gutters and replacing with a pitched roof
  • replacing any monolithic cladding with weatherboard
  • extending roof overhangs
  • replacing windows rather than refurbishing windows
  • adding more insulation to your property than was damaged by weathertightness problems
  • any ‘belts and braces’ repair with two solutions to the same problem:
    • raising the base of a wall above outside ground and constructing a surface drain at ground level to prevent moisture from the ground entering the base of a wall
    • reinstalling tiles over the surface of a deck membrane, and changing the type of membrane to a more expensive type that is very durable (without tiles) against footfall, to repair a tiled deck that was leaking through the original membrane
  • removing any risky construction that has not been identified as a cause of current or likely future damage in order to avoid future maintenance or to extend the life of the components
  • repositioning or enlarging a window or door.

Betterment that does not relate to your repairs

If your repair plan includes construction work that is not related to your repair work, it is also betterment. This could include:

  • work which rectifies damage from condensation or plumbing leaks
  • work to improve building performance issues not related to weathertightness, such as:
    • replacing undersize framing
    • adding bracing elements
    • installing a missing stair handrail.
  • improvements in design or amenity, such as:
    • adding a new bedroom
    • replacing bathroom fittings
    • repainting walls unaffected by weathertightness.

Any work you do over and above what is required to obtain a building consent, such as increasing the amount of insulation or installing double glazed windows, will be betterment.

Savings from repairs that are not like-for-like

Sometimes you can repair damage for a lower cost if the repair work does not have to be like-for-like. You may want to:

  • remove a leaking balcony structure rather than restore or replace it
  • enclose a leaking covered deck area with a roof rather than make complex and more expensive repairs to the deck
  • simplify the shape of a badly damaged leaking roof that is difficult to repair, rather than reinstate the original shape.

It may be difficult to establish from the repair plan whether a change to repair scope will result in savings or a cost increase. For this reason, there may be occasions when we require savings to be quantified by your builder in the payment plan application. We may list such items as betterment until these costs are known.

Where a change to repair scope results in a saving, contributions are based on the cost of the actual repair. The amount saved in repair of one area cannot be used to offset the cost of betterment in another area.

Unfunded repair costs you may need to make

You may also be expected to repair some weathertightness damage where we cannot provide contributions towards the costs. These can include:

  • areas of your property which also leak but are “out of time”:
    • alterations were constructed within 10 years of lodging a claim, but some defective earlier work is not – the whole property must be repaired but contributions are limited to repair of the in-time alterations only
  • units in a complex or properties attached by party walls, but which are not part of the claim :
    • repair work may be needed to such units if they have deficiencies or damage, but this work will not be eligible for contributions
  • repair work necessary to make your property weathertight, but the leaking and any damage is not covered by the eligibility criteria within the Weathertight Home Resolution Services Act:
    • water entry was not caused by any aspect of its design, construction, or alteration, or of materials used in its construction or alteration – some examples are vehicle impact damage, earthquake damage or a plumbing leak that has damaged the external wall cladding.

You must be able to show us that these problems will be addressed as a pre-condition of any contributions towards qualifying repair work under the FAP.

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: