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Winter WorkOut

Cold weather can lead to rental property woes if issues aren't attended to in time. Builderscrack's handy tips will help you remedy potential problems before they cause major damage.


1 August 2021

Whether you’re inspecting a rental or scoping out a potential investment property, keep an eye out for these common signs that show winter has taken its toll on the place.

1 Hedges And Trees Near Exterior Walls

Look out for overgrown vegetation especially on south facing exteriors. Not only does it contribute to the dampness inside, it limits the ability of nonpermanent exterior cladding to breathe, promoting rot and decay.

Fix: Trim and maintain any vegetation in proximity to the property.

2 Mould

Mould issues have two main causes: inadequate ventilation to allow moist air out of the house from occupants; or moisture making its way into the house through the roof, walls or floor.

While mould is most commonly found in the main bedrooms and bathrooms, always keep an eye out for mould discolouration in every area of the house.

FIX: If proper ventilation doesn’t deter the mould, an inspection and moisture test may get to the root of the problem which may be with the walls, roof cladding, subfloor or flashings.

3 Wet Areas Under Guttering And Downpipes

In addition to puddles near these areas, you might also notice water running down an exterior wall or walls. This is typically caused by guttering overflowing due to blockages or guttering movement over time. As guttering expands and contracts with heat, it can “creep” along the brackets attaching it to the house, resulting in gaps as well as covered and blocked downpipe openings.

FIX: Yearly cleaning and adjustment of guttering, and trimming back of trees which overhang a property’s roof will prevent most guttering issues.

4 Pooling Water

Water pooling under and around a building is a major cause of foundation and floor movement, and dampness issues. Houses which are most at risk are those where the subfloor ground level is lower than the ground around the house, or the ground slopes towards the building instead of away from it. Leaking or blocked gutters, drains and plumbing around the building are the primary causes of pooling water under and around buildings, with poor subfloor ventilation also a contributor.

Fix: Identify and resolve the causes of pooling water as soon as possible.

5 Blocked Downpipes And Drains

We see a spike in job posts after heavy rainfall with homeowners looking to urgently unblock drains. A build-up of plant matter, sticks, mud, and sediment in or around the drains is the most common cause of issues.

FIX: In addition to guttering maintenance at least once a year for most homes, you can place a wire mesh cap on the downpipe to sieve out the dirt and leaves while the water passes through. A blockage in underground drains means specialist equipment is usually needed to diagnose and resolve the problem.

6 Rats And Mice

If you spot droppings, damage to skirting boards, wires and cables, wood and plastic, there may be vermin present on the property.

FIX: Trim large trees away from the roof, repair any holes under the sink areas and block the gaps at the side of the garage door. A poison and trapping programme may be needed for difficult infestations.

7 Cladding Issues

Older timber cladding is most commonly affected by rot and decay, especially on the side of the building that doesn’t see any sun. Water leaks from plumbing inside walls, and long-term guttering issues are two other common causes.

FIX: It’s critical to identify and resolve the cause of the issue. Depending on the extent of the damage, you can either partially or fully replace the weatherboards.

8 Damaged Driveways

Once a driveway is cracked and allowing water into the subgrade, it’s only a matter of time before the driveway begins to slump and break apart. Early repairs and maintenance can greatly prolong the life of concrete and asphalt driveways.

FIX: Hire a specialist to inspect and repair any cracking or damage.

9 Wet Lawns

Soggy lawns are a common problem in New Zealand due to clay-like, dense or compacted soil. Even with well-draining soil, high foot traffic areas compact over time, and after some rain mud becomes an issue. Obvious signs of waterlogged lawns are puddles and squelching underfoot, but on days when the lawn isn’t saturated, you may be able to spot yellowing blades of oxygendeprived grass.

FIX: Aerating the lawn is a starting point to immediately resolve water pooling, but it’s crucial to determine the root cause. Consider the property’s ground level in context with the wider topography to determine the most suitable fix.

Low Cost, High Impact

1 Add door mats: This reduces unsuspecting moisture and mud from entering the house.

2 Relocate hoses or taps: Move them to be directly above drains, or above areas that run water towards the home.

3 Add a door shelter: Build a small shelter over the door or go one step further and have south facing entrance ways enclosed to prevent rain and wind from coming through the doorway.

4 Repair loose roof fixings: A simple check and fix can prevent leaks (especially on older roofs).

5 Install secure window latches: This allows tenants to ventilate the house while they’re not home

6 Install a powered ventilation system: To reduce mould and mildew in homes. There are inexpensive options for problematic individual rooms.

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