“Cold and damp houses are not acceptable, no matter who lives in them,” says the President of the New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors, Darin Devanny.
While Mr Devanny commends the government’s efforts to transform New Zealand’s poor rental housing stock to a healthier standard, he says the issue goes beyond rental housing.
“It is not just a high percentage of rental houses that are considered unhealthy. Many homes purchased by first home buyers are in the same condition, or worse, since they are not expected to meet any particular standard in the way rentals are, and will be in the future,” he says.
“Therefore, a pre-purchase inspection is the most opportune time to assess whether dwellings are healthy or not, and what should be done to make them heathier.”
According to Mr Devanny, a healthy home is well insulated, heated, ventilated and dry. It is also a home that is well maintained.
“A quality pre-purchase inspection is the key to a healthy home, no matter if it is to be occupied by the owner or tenants.”
Currently, a typical pre-purchase inspection will convey the current condition of the building when considering its age.
“This means if a 100-year-old house was built with no insulation in the floor, walls and ceiling, and has damp ground under the floor, or gaps in the loose fitting draughty windows, it is likely to get the ‘tick of approval’ because there is nothing defective about these aspects.”
However, as President of the Institute, Mr Devanny states that this approach is not good enough.
“To improve New Zealand’s building stock, it needs to start with a higher expectation from pre-purchase inspections,” he says.
“Pre-purchase reports should focus more on reporting issues such as; draughty windows, lack of or inefficient heating, damp ground beneath the house, poor insulation, wet and porous concrete roofing tiles causing dampness to the insulation, which turns the ceilings and roof space into a fridge during the winter.
“These issues are the components to a cold and unhealthy home and must be addressed in pre-purchase inspections.”
To work towards improving New Zealand’s housing stock, the NZIBS Core Module Training on Residential Property Inspections is focusing more on what makes a healthy home and what can be done to improve the standard of each home at the point of a sale and purchase agreement.
“This means that at a minimum, new owners will be armed with information that will provide guidance to their new home being healthier.”