Marlborough Property Investors' Association

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Cowboys targeting leaky home owners

Leaky home owners are being warned to watch out for cowboys looking to make a quick buck from over-priced repair work, says the NZ Building Industry Federation.

Home owners, local authorities and the government are being warned by the federation to take special care to avoid overblown estimates of the extent of problems and costs associated with the repair of residential structures which have leaks identified.

The warning comes after increasing cases within the building industry of excessive repair work being recommended at costs far beyond that which should be considered reasonable.

"This is an area ripe for hit-and-run cowboy activities," says chief executive Bruce Kohn, especially since the announcement last week that home owners will have to foot almost two thirds of the repair bill.

"Many unfortunate home owners who have identified a leak in the properties are elderly, young or have little expert knowledge. They are reliant on sound advice from experts and need to ensure that those they turn to are well qualified for the task and have a proven track record."

Kohn says, similarly, local authorities and the government need to be sure that the scale and expense of repair work is justified when authorising remedial payouts.

The industry also warns that detection of a leak in a house or apartment block does not automatically mean there should be a complete re-cladding or structural rebuild of the property.

"Potential for major structural damage to have already occurred should not be underestimated. But nor should the prospect be dismissed that a leak is a defect that can quickly be remedied at comparatively low cost," Kohn says.

The federation recommends checking with the New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors who carry out inspections and can probe identified leaks. Reputable builders can be found through the Registered Master Builders' Federation or the Certified Builders' Association of New Zealand.

Last week it was announced the government would only compensate leaky home owners with 10% of the repair cost, leaving owners footing 64% of the repair bill, with the other 26% being subsidised by local councils.