What to expect from a tradie after building work is completed

If you’ve engaged a contractor to undertake trade work to your home, it is important you know what to expect when the project comes to a finish so that have all the information you will need to maintain the property in its new state and understand the process if any defects should arise.



After the job is completed, specific information and documents must be given to the client, regardless of the value of the work:

  • A copy of any insurance policy still in place for the building work.
  • Copies of guarantees or warranties for building materials or services. This must include details about how to lodge a claim, whether any guarantee/warranty is transferable and whether or not any guarantee/warranty must be completed and sent back to the supplying company.
  • Details about the maintenance required, especially where this is necessary to meet Building Code requirements or for a guarantee or warranty to remain valid.

building checklist

Dealing with defects

Under the Building Act, if a homeowner notifies a contractor in writing of any defects within 12 months of the completion of the building work, the contractor must fix the defects within a reasonable timeframe. The 12-month period applies to all residential building work regardless of value. This doesn’t just apply to builders, but to all tradespeople.

The homeowner can take action for up to 10 years after building work is completed if warranties in the Building Act have not been met. This applies whether or not there is a written contract or what the contract says.

MBIE has produced a Guide to tolerances, materials and workmanship in new residential construction 2015. This guide covers acceptable levels of workmanship that could be useful if there is a dispute with clients. It deals largely with the visual appearance of things rather than Building Code compliance. You can download the guide from the MBIE website here.

For more information visit Contracts and consumer protection 

Building defects defects


Although many building materials and systems today are sold as “low maintenance”, most still require some type of maintenance to remain durable and perform well, even if this is just regular painting or occasional cleaning. Many wall cladding systems, for example, have specific maintenance requirements to ensure they remain weathertight over the long term. Often ongoing maintenance in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions is required for the warranty to remain valid.

Although the responsibility for carrying out this maintenance rests with the homeowner, contractors must explain to homeowners what maintenance is required to be carried out and the potential consequences of not carrying it out.

General areas of exterior maintenance can include:

  • clearing roof gutters
  • inspecting roof flashings/membranes/claddings
  • cleaning and recoating roof finishes
  • cleaning and recoating wall claddings
  • inspecting window and door flashings and glass seals
  • inspecting and replacing sealants
  • inspecting construction gaps and keeping them clear
  • keeping ventilation clear under suspended floors.

Good maintenance is critical with certain materials or systems, including:

  • face seal coatings on some cladding systems. These must be regularly cleaned and recoated for weathertight performance
  • critical sealant joints on some cladding systems. Exposed sealant joints are fundamental in stopping water penetrating critical junctions
  • critical flashings, such as window head flashings, which ensure that water is deflected over a penetration in the cladding.

Homeowners should keep an eye out for indications of problems that require immediate action, including:

  • cracks, splits or open joints in cladding
  • sealant that has come loose
  • metal corrosion
  • raised flashings
  • gaps at the ends of flashings
  • rotten timber
  • cupped or buckled weatherboards
  • loose-fitting cover boards, scribers or plugs
  • missing roof fixings or holes in the roof
  • overflowing spouting
  • gaps in junctions between different materials or building features
  • gaps around cantilevered deck joists or other cladding penetrations
  • gaps around window seals or sashes
  • joints or mitres that have opened up or where the paint has cracked
  • water ponding on a roof or membrane deck surface
  • mould on interior walls or ceilings
  • stained or dark patches on walls
  • gaps appearing between the skirting and the wall
  • swollen skirting timber and window or door reveals
  • damp or rotten carpet.

Ideally, a contractor should leave the homeowner with a home maintenance guide which will detail maintenance requirements and their frequency.


If you would like a check-up on the condition of your home, our friendly team of inspectors can help – Phone NZ House Surveys today on 0800 487 884. FREE maintenance guide given out with every building report.

NZ House Surveys

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