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Construction ‘Dirty Words’ – What you should look for when buying a house

Construction ‘Dirty Words’ – What you should look for when buying a house

In the world of residential real estate, there are some construction materials that have the buyers running for the hills. Depending on the individual property, they may or may not pose any potential risk. But the fear is real. This month we look at the ‘dirty words’ in world of residential construction.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral substance with soft, flexible fibres that are resistant to heat, electricity and chemical corrosion. For these reasons asbestos fibres were introduced into building products in the form of insulation, pipes, cladding, roofing and linings between the 1930’s and the early 1980’s. During this time New Zealand had two asbestos plants, one owned by Fletchers and one James Hardie. The remainder was mostly imported from Scotland.

Why is asbestos considered a bad material?

Breathing in air that contains asbestos fibres can lead to cancer of the lungs and chest lining. Before the good old days of health and safety, the manufacture and handling of asbestos based products exposed workers to air borne fibres which resulted in an increased level of asbestos related disease. Living in a house with undisturbed asbestos poses you no more risk than any another home but should these systems become cracked or damaged, then you may have a problem on your hands.

What is Dux Quest?

Dux Quest is a brand and refers to a type of black piping used in New Zealand plumbing during the 1970’s until the 1980’s. This change came about as a direct result of people looking for cheaper construction materials as New Zealanders were being squeezed under escalating inflation. Inadequacies in the pipes started to emerge as early as the 1980’s which became very costly for insurance companies. These days, notification of its existence has the potential to exclude you from insurance cover. There is still plenty of dux quest hiding behind New Zealand walls which haven’t caused any problems, but if you are looking to sell, depending on the scale of the piping, it may be best to replace it prior to marketing.

What is a Monolithic home?

When the market uses the term ‘monolithic’ they are really referring to homes built during the 1990’s and early 2000’s using a monolithic or continuous plater cladding system. During this period of construction a number of factors (often used in combination) contributed to serious undermining of the structural integrity of many homes.

It has caused a major issue for housing stock here in New Zealand labelled the ‘leaky home syndrome’. These factors can include direct fix cladding which has to potential to allow moisture ingress and use of non-treated timber for framing. And there can also typically be common design faults including the use of no eves, internal gutterings and balconies attached directly through the plaster cladding system. Images of leaky, rotten homes (more often than not with a plaster clad finish) have been hitting the headlines for years. It is for this reason, in most cases, the public at large will avoid putting themselves in a position of ‘perceived risk’.

What is Borer?

New Zealand has two types of borer; common borer (passenger from the UK) and the two-tooth borer (which is a native). Common borer is attracted to the sapwood component of timber and due to the fact that a large portion of native timber is heartwood the common borer poses no major structural risk and can be easily treated. Carrying out a treatment prior to your sale can alleviate the concerns of potential purchasers. The less common two tooth borer poses more of a risk. This borer will attack the sapwood and heartwood which can undermine the structural integrity of a building. In the case of borer in rafters and floor joists this timber should be replaced. Discovery of two tooth borer has the potential to impact the outcome of your campaign if not addressed.

Real Estate agents

Commonly found at the bottom of the ‘most trusted’ professions list is the real estate agent.  An article published by ‘One roof’ in November 2018 (Click here to read) found that ‘home-owners who use a real estate agent to sell their home can expect to get 10 percent more for the property than they would by selling it privately’. With Wellington recording a median agent sale price 20 percent higher than the median private sale price – in dollar terms that’s almost $100,000 higher. Given that a standard agent’s commission is around the 3% mark, in most cases it should result in a positive net outcome for the vendor. It also provides added legal protection and reassurance for the buyer.

The Wellington Market

It appears that for the third year running our listing numbers are sitting around half of their historical volume. It may just be that this is the new normal and we see prices hold up due to limited supply.

The gap between well presented, well maintained properties and those that require work is starting to widen and due to the escalating costs of maintenance we once again see buyers factoring those costs into their offers. For those who are thinking about going to the market, deal with the items that buyers don’t want to prior to marketing so you don’t have to compromise on your bottom line.


Average sale price by Ward:

What’s on this March in Wellington:

  • NZ Fringe Box Office 4 Bond St, Wellington Monday 4 March 2019 – Saturday 23 March 2019 9:00am12:00am
    The NZ Fringe is Wellington’s cutting edge festival of art, from the edges. It’s 23 days of everything you could imagine and things you never would have. From subtle manipulations of how you view things, to in-your-face loud and proud heart aching beauty. Creating and presenting Fringe shows is a bold and daring journey… come on the ride with us! Click here to view session times and ticket info


  • Blackcaps v Bangladesh – 2nd Test Basin Reserve, Sussex St, Mt Cook, Wellington Friday 8 March 2019 – Tuesday 12 March 2019 11:00am6:00pm
    International cricket is the epitome of the NZ summer experience. It’s what we do. It’s the catches in the crowd, the costumes, the immaculate field and that perfect pitch that we can only imagine having in our backyard. When we’re all there, we are the game. Our excitement and buzz builds up our heroes and unsettles our foes. We’re essential in building the drama and tension at those crucial crunch points that define national pride. Click here to buy tickets


  • Wellington Pride Parade Courtenay Place Tennyson Street, Wellington, Wellington Saturday 16 March 2019 6:00pm10:00pm
    Now in its third year, the theme for the 2019 parade is Fire: ahi – hei whakaatu i to hiahia mo to hapori | ignite your passion for your community. Starting at 6pm on Tennyson Street, the parade will make its way through Wellington’s Courtenay Place area, concluding at the waterfront adjacent Mac’s Brewery. Spectators can line the streets and join in the celebrations with the parade participants, consisting of a diverse range of floats and walking groups. Click here for more info


If you, or anyone you know, could benefit from a considered market assessment by Wellington’s only licensed agent and registered property valuer, please do not hesitate to call. We are always very happy to help.

Click here to book your free appraisal today. 

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