Signs of a leaky home

Last updated: 1 March 2024

If you’re a homeowner and think you have a leaky home, there are a few things you need to know.

What is a leaky home

From the mid-1990s, some houses were built in a way that did not withstand weather conditions and did not comply with the New Zealand Building Code. Some houses leak because of design issues and problems around installing materials.

Once water or moisture gets behind certain cladding types, and if there is no drainage and ventilation between the cladding and the framework, the water becomes trapped and the potential for fungal growth and rotting rapidly increases.

There are many issues with having a leaky home, including the effect it may have on your health or your finances if the damage gets worse.

If your leaks are coming from internal sources such as plumbing, you do not have a leaky home. A leaky home means water from outside your house has made its way in, and is causing damage.

Common signs to look for

A leaky home is not weathertight. Most weathertightness issues aren’t obvious. However, if water is dripping or pooling inside your home when it rains, you are likely to have a leak. Also look out for:

  • sagging of ceiling linings
  • corrosion of fixings such as screws and nails
  • uneven floor surfaces, like the lifting of vinyl
  • mould or fungi formation on surfaces (although this is often due to poor ventilation)
  • musty smells
  • swollen materials such as skirtings and architraves
  • staining or discolouration of materials or surfaces
  • stained or rotting carpet, or rusting of carpet fixings.

Building features that can cause problems

Certain areas of your home will be more prone to taking on excess moisture than others, and there are some common building features that can cause problems with weathertightness. The following features have been commonly associated with weathertightness issues:

Diagram of common building features that are prone to leaksCommon building elements that are prone to leaks
  1. Flat roofs, or roofs with parapets
  2. Roof to wall junctions
  3. Pergola fixings
  4. Handrail fixings
  5. Lack of flashings to windows and penetrations
  6. Decks over living areas
  7. Balustrade to deck or balustrade to wall junctions
  8. Clearances at bottom of claddings
  9. Level of ground outside is above interior floor level

If your home has some or all of these features it does not necessarily mean you have a leaky home, but it does highlight areas to be aware of.

Decks, balconies and balustrades

Decks, balconies and balustrades – Find out more about the risks and warning signs.

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: