Rob Glengarry is one of three accredited building surveyors in Auckland who works full-time doing pre-purchase house inspections. He has a Building Officials Institute of New Zealand certificate which gives him national accreditation.
“There’s no legislation to say you must have a registered person’s report at this stage,” he says. “But some banks and lawyers will advise people to get a report, some require it. And some banks will reject inadequate building reports. An accredited inspector will conduct the report to the New Zealand property inspection standard.”
After close to 50 years working in the building industry, Rob and his wife Lyn recently took up a franchise agreement with building inspection company Realsure. The Pakuranga grandparents were looking for something they could do together while remaining in the industry.
“After a career building homes, I’m now looking at what’s wrong with them,” Rob says. “There are a lot of houses coming on to the market with serious defects so it’s important people get a proper industry standard report done that reveals these defects.
“People don’t always want to declare known defects of a house,” he says. “They are reluctant, because it will cost them money. If they know a house is leaking it means they have got to fix it or replace materials, which is costly.
“Part of the reason for the building report is to give buyers confidence when they make a purchase, based on knowledge of the house from the report.”
After one inspection a purchaser went back to a vendor with minor repairs revealed in the report.
“We did a re-inspection and the vendor had fixed things. That made us feel good,” he says.
On another occasion Rob identified a small piece of rot in the corner of a window sill but when he took the Gibraltar board off the inside wall, more rot was discovered in the timber at the back of the window.
“As an inspector, it seemed to me like a minor piece of rot. The structure wasn’t collapsing, yet there were consequences underneath, hidden and not seen.”
But while the leaky home debacle is generally attributed to monolithic clad houses, “that’s not to say that other houses are not leaking. The problem is not isolated,” he says. It can be found in older houses where alteration work has been done by DIYers who are not necessarily as competent.
“They can take out load-bearing walls without proper rectification and create dangerous situations. All those things compact into making decisions about buying another house. It can be a maze to get through.
“But an accredited inspector can find a pathway through that maze.”
Rob believes the industry suffered during the 80s and 90s boom times because of a lack of trained tradespeople.
“We are reaping the negative aspects of that now. Because people were looking for faster and cheaper ways to do things, they started using short-cuts.
“Everyone still wants the cheapest job but that is not always the best. It used to be that you got five prices, threw out the highest and the lowest and worked on the three in the middle, getting the people you were most comfortable to deal with. That is a rare thing in this day and age.”
More people, Rob says, are looking for reassurance that they are heading in the right direction with a house purchase, and guidance to steer them away from a bad purchase.
They’re scared because of the leaky houses.
“If the report shows there is something wrong and it will cost money to fix, they can walk away.”
Some people continue to go ahead with a house purchase, taking the building assessment upon themselves, he says.
“It’s a pretty big gamble when they are outlaying a lot of money.