Investigation and Reporting, Design and Contract Administration

The full remediation of a leaky building is effectively a three-stage process covering investigation and reporting, design, and administration of the construction contract. Prendos design and building surveying professionals provide comprehensive and efficient solutions to leaky homes, from initial diagnosis through to project completion, and including expert evidence for legal claims if required.

Investigation and Reporting

The diagnosis of a leaky building is usually determined by two types of investigation; an Initial Investigation and a follow-up Detailed Investigation.

An Initial Investigation is a non-invasive investigative procedure that involves a building surveyor meeting the homeowner on-site, to carry out a visual inspection of a building and discuss the history and homeowner’s concerns regarding the building.

Typically, as the result of an Initial Investigation, the building surveyor will produce a short report. However, if the homeowner is already aware of significant problems it may be more cost effective to proceed directly to a Detailed Investigation.

A Detailed Investigation helps determine the extent of defects and other issues that may be affecting a building. The investgation typically involves destructive tests where small holes are drilled in the external building envelope to detect the presence of moisture behind the cladding. If elevated levels of moisture are detected, or there are other concerns, small areas (300mm x 300mm) of cladding may be removed, for example, and samples taken for analysis of decay and timber treatment.

Following the investigation a report is provided with a recommended course of action. The report is typically used as the basis for the remediation design. If it is being used to support legal action then the report will need to be more comprehensive.

Design

The building surveyor works closely with the client and architect to develop a design brief that incorporates the necessary technical solutions to weathertightness issues, as well as taking into account building aesthetics and any additional work that may need to be undertaken. Once a brief is agreed concept plans are drafted and the building surveyor generates a scope of works. A quantity surveyor then prepares costings to assist the decision making process.

If a valuation is required to assist with obtaining bank funding, a property valuer provides an anticipated market value based on the design concept.

On approval of the concept plans full working drawings are prepared. If the client is using the FAP scheme a FAP Repair Plan can also be prepared. Completed documents are submitted to the Council for building consent and tender documents are generated and supplied to interested building contractors.

Contract Administration

On receipt of tenders from building contractors, a quantity surveyor undertakes a tender analysis and recommendations are presented to the client for acceptance. Construction contracts between the client and the builder are prepared with the building surveyor typically named as the Engineer to the Contract.

The building surveyor, as Engineer to the Contract, typically administers the remediation project. Site visits are undertaken regularly to observe the works and to deal with any unforeseen construction issues that may arise. The building surveyor also identifies any in-situ decayed framing needing replacement and collects any additional evidence of building failure for possible legal action. Regular site meetings are held with the client and builder. The building surveyor processes progress claims from the builder (typically monthly) to certify they are correct and – if the client is using the FAP scheme – assists with the compiling of milestone payments.

Final claims from the builder are processed and payment retentions are managed. Under most contracts a ‘Defects Liability Period’ commences at the practical completion of the project, whereby a portion of the builders payments are retained for a period to cover any minor works (such as paint touch ups) that may become apparent. Producer statements and trade guarantees are provided to the Council and client.

Legal Recourse

Many owners seek legal redress through either litigation or the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service (WHRS) from parties deemed to have contributed to their loss. Certain laws limit time periods for parties to be held accountable; it is critical that clients seek legal advice as early as possible to determine if limitation periods curtail any redress.

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