Can’t be ignored

By - , Build 160

MAINTENANCE can be the bane of a homeowner’s life. The overdue external painting that somehow doesn’t get done each summer. The little roof leak that doesn’t seem too big an issue when it’s fine. Sticky windows that you can live with if you leave them closed. I know plenty of people who have these sorts of issues, and the results of the 2015/16 BRANZ House Condition Survey show they are not alone.

Running 5-yearly since 1994, the House Condition Survey is a rich resource of information on the condition of New Zealand houses and provides insights into underlying maintenance trends and issues.

On a positive note, the survey found nearly half of owner-occupied houses were considered well maintained (48%). That, of course, leaves over half of owner-occupied houses needing work, with 14% assessed as poorly maintained. Rental houses were much worse, with nearly one-third assessed as poorly maintained.

The survey found maintenance had been deferred in 30% of houses in the last 12 months. Not surprisingly, cost was given as a reason for this by half the households, with the average cost of essential maintenance about $13,000 per house (see Costly to delay repairs). This becomes a vicious circle as small issues can grow into big issues, sometimes rapidly.

Why not consider maintenance at the design stage? Things like keeping the design simple, providing access and using durable materials can all make ongoing maintenance easier (see What is maintenance?).

Builders are now required to provide their clients with specific details of the maintenance needed when they hand over a new house. BRANZ has developed the free online Maintenance Schedules tool to help with this (see Maintenance schedules made easy). Have you used it?

Building maintenance can’t be ignored. Ultimately, owners are responsible for maintaining their houses, but the building industry can and should facilitate this. The result would benefit all New Zealanders.

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