Spotting Problematic Cladding

15 years have passed since New Zealand’s leaking home crisis first hit the headlines, rocking the housing market and causing buyers to become much more vigilant in their hunt for a suitable home. But problem cladding doesn’t end with monolithic homes: failed products, neglected maintenance and incorrect installation can cause all types of cladding to become problematic – nothing is safe.

leaky home

Our advice is to always seek a professional building report to avoid a very costly mistake – here are some of the top things we check for:

1. Badly Maintained Paint Coatings

Many cladding types need specially applied paints to maintain a sealed surface on the cladding.  Areas exposed to weather and the sun which are not maintained could have compromised the cladding’s seal allowing water to get in towards the timber framing

2. Paint cover ups

Similarly, many homeowners will try to cover up areas of failure with a fresh coat of paint before the property hits the market- take a close look at the paint finish, checking for any inconsistencies in the finish which may indicate neglected maintenance, cracking, and areas of rot.

3. Identifying the cladding

Once we determine the cladding type we will report on any common risks associated with the cladding, and its maintenance requirements– for example Shadowclad is associated with warping which can potentially allow moisture in, so it will require monitoring and preventive maintenance.

3. Adjoining Roofing Sections

The area where roofing joins cladding needs to be correctly installed to make sure water is guided towards the gutters and away from the cladding.  Roofing that tucks behind cladding can guide water behind the cladding towards the timber framing. Flashings such as kick-out diverters and saddle flashings should be fitted in these areas, and where it hasn’t been it may be recommended that this is retro-fitted.

3. Fixings Causing Damage to Cladding

Fixing lights, fences and awnings to cladding can result in holes in the cladding surface allowing water to get in towards the timber framing. These areas should be checked for evidence of moisture ingress, and sealed off.

4. Lack of clearance to Patios, Gardens, Drives and Decks

There should be a clearance between the floor level of the home and the ground level outside including any decks and patios. This allows any water on the cladding to run off and away from the cladding, to avoid water wicking up in to the cladding material towards the timber framing. The required clearances at the bottom of the cladding to gardens and non-paved type surfaces is 175mm.

5. Poorly Maintained Sealant Joints

Sealant joints are commonly used to waterproof an intentional gap in cladding required for things like plumbing penetration.  Over time these can deteriorate leaving a hole between the pipe and the cladding where water can get in towards the timber framing.

7. No Capping On Parapets / Balustrades

Parapets are perimeter walls around roofs and balconies. A correctly constructed clad-parapet or balustrade should have a metal capping. Cladding can crack and the metal capping will help prevent water getting in if it does crack.

8. Recessed Windows

Flat sills combined with recessed windows can lead to the water collection on the sill and if the cladding has cracked or seals have degraded around the windows this collected water will get in towards the timber framing.

9. Improper Installation Of Cladding Sheets

Fibre cement sheet cladding and backing boards for stucco must be installed in a certain pattern. This pattern aids in cladding stability and reduced cracking. If incorrectly installed cladding sheets can crack and have excessive movement leading to fixing failure.

10. Inadequate Weather Protection Features

Wind has an ability to direct rain in many directions under force.  Failure to use best practice building techniques, like drip edges and good eaves can compromise the weather-tightness of a home leading to water ingress.


For a full and thorough inspection of your cladding, call us today on 0800 487 884.

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