2019 November 22 Newsroom: NZ is still building leaky homes

22 November 2019 by Jason Quinn

We are still building leaky homes.

“According to journalist Peter Dyer, who has spent the past seven years researching the crisis, we are still making the same mistakes. ‘Everyone I talk to says we are still building them.'”

Yep. Unfortunately this is true. And we’re trying to cover up poor design approaches – literally the same ones that caused these failures – with treated timber and magic materials. Sad thing about magic  – it doesn’t work – and neither do materials if you don’t understand how to use them.

BRANZ SR344 showed all the walls tested (except the one with specialist vapor control) built to the current NZ Acceptable Solution got wet from interior moisture. Now they used a lower than normal interior humidity level, so the test was hardly an extreme case. I’d consider it more of a typical scenario. Plus they didn’t add moisture from rainwater leaks but every real house has some of those as well.

Code compliant means it is literally illegal to build it any worse. Yet, people still think this is how they should build: as cheap as permitted by law and to hell with what happens from the day after it is built.

We shouldn’t build like this.

The ‘common law of business balance’ (often attributed to John Ruskin) states that one cannot pay a little and get a lot:

“There is hardly anything in the world that someone cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price alone are that person’s lawful prey. It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money — that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot — it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”

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