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17 Solutions To Safe, Dry Homes

1. Be careful when contracting a deck, which is enclosed by a solid wall. As these walls, and the flat top surface into which the handrail is fixed, are usually textured, water cannot drain away properly from the top surface. Since the weatherproof skin of the wall has been penetrated by the rail supports, the waterproofing has been compromised. “It can take as little as six months for serious deterioration of the wall framing to occur,” warns Trevor. Attaching railings into the side of the walls, rather than the top, will effectively reduce the risk.

2. When using suspended timber floors, don’t block the vents that remove moisture from the space below the floor. Often decks, paving, planters or soil can interfere with these vents. Restricting the ventilation rate significantly increases the risk of dampness and mould within the building. Ventilation was a concern for recent British emigre Jo Bradshaw and her fiancé, Russell Withers, when looking to buy a new home in the Auckland area recently. “Considering the publicity concerning damp houses over the past few months, we needed to know that any house we bought was damp-free,” says Jo. “So, we contacted BRANZ, people in the timber industry, a plasterer, in fact anyone we could think of to help. Now, we feel much better informed, and we’re sure the house we buy will be the right one.”

3. Stair treads and risers often do not meet the design parameters given for safe use in the Building Code, which gives five different stairs types and use specifications for each. Kristina recommends that the stairs in your home be safe for the purpose for which they are intended – frequently- used stairs from living areas to bedrooms would have different requirements than those for little-used stairs to an attic, for example, and this should be taken into consideration when the treads and risers are build.

4. Parapet walls always require a sloped cap flashing as a finish, not another building material. Correct design here will ensure that water drains away, avoiding trouble later with leaks and dampness. “This is where it’s a good idea to employ a building inspector,” says Jo Bradshaw. “They keep their eyes open for these details that we wouldn’t know to look for.” Find a building inspector under “Building Consultants” and “Building Inspection” in the Yellow Pages.

5. Make sure you plan adequate provision for drainage when building a deck. Often, the deck surface is constructed at the same height as the building floor, with no fall or overflow to drain of the rain. And, Trevor warns, if an outlet is blocked, the only place for water to go is through the overflow or inside the building.

6. While you may prefer the look of a window without head or sill flashings, these are important features which channel rain away from windows, so the possibility of window leakage is reduced;

7. Avoid external cladding materials finishing hard against deck surfaces or paving, as the cladding will absorb water from the surface. This also means any water passing through the cladding is prevented from draining at the bottom. This problem is exacerbated if the cladding materials are taken below ground level or if a garden is built up against the wall. However, there’s a simple solution to the problem – ensure your builder leaves sufficient clearance between the two materials and installs a drip edge (a feature along the clearance line, moulded out to a point, which tracks water away from the house, rather than it flowing back into the building). It can be difficult to install these to existing homes, so make sure this is done when building.

8. Today’s homes often use different materials, such as corrugated iron and stucco, or textured fibre cement, together in their exterior construction. However, there is often poor or no detailing of junctions between materials on the drawings of the home, giving the builder no indication of the best solution for accommodation differing materials’ requirements when joining, to prevent water leaking in. In many cases, flashings would be used to form weather tight junctions, but this may not always be the case. Consult with your designer to ensure the use of building materials is practical, weather tight and durable.

9. Did you know that, where there is a fall distance of one metre or more from stairs (including external steps), decks and balconies, handrails or barriers must meet the performance requirements of the Building Code? Trevor says that in many cases, barriers are inadequate. An acceptable solution involves the use of timber balustrades; as these are often unpopular, many manufacturers of glass and metal handrails now produce products which have been tested and have passed the Building Code performance requirements. An innovative designer can come up with a solution that is aesthetically pleasing and meets the Code.

10. Any design feature that penetrates the house’s cladding, such as projecting timber beams or a handrail, is a potential problem. “They are almost impossible to effectively and durably waterproof,” says Trevor, as water can travel along the penetration into the interior of the house or structure.

11. Kick-outs or diverters, installed directly where roofs abut walls, are necessary to divert rainwater into the guttering. “Otherwise, you run the risk of it leaking down inside the walls,” says Trevor. It’s much easier to do it right the first time – that’s when your builder and be sure he or she understands that you require these features.

12. Another thing to watch out for is the underside of profiled steel roofing, which has been left exposed at overhangs or eaves. Trevor Pringle advises that, when used in such a manner, the material may no longer be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, meaning you may not be covered if a problem arises.

13. Don’t be a “dedicated follower of fashion” – if a design trend ignores features which offer weather protection, such as eaves and drip edges at the base of claddings, go against the crowd and insist your home be equipped with these. “It can be very difficult to add these features later, so use a good designer who understands their importance,” stresses Trevor.

14. There should be a sufficient level difference between the floor of a building, and the surface outside, to meet the performance requirements of the Building Code. “If the level change is not great enough, external moisture can flow inside the house,” says Trevor.

15. Some monolithic cladding and tiled finishes are not tolerant of movement when installed. These finishes require special joints to allow the building to move and settle to avoid the risk of cracking. While your home is in its planning stages, ask your builder to use these joints. Or, if buying an existing home, the joints should be visible to the trained eye – ask your building inspector to check that these have been used in any home you intend to buy.

16. The use of sealant instead of properly designed flashings is a no-no. Trevor says: “It’s a case of using the right product for the job. However, sealants can be used behind flashing as a back-up material.”

17. If you need further help to ensure your home (or potential home) is safe, waterproof and complies with regulations, visit www.branz.org.nz or contact BRANS on 0900 590 90. Also, see the BRANZ-convened Weather tight Building steering group’s website www.weathertight.org.nz for practical information and advice; contact the Registered Master Builder’s Federation at enquires@masterbuilder.org.nz or on 0800 269 119 or the New Zealand Plasterers & Tilers Federation, P O Box 10-328, Christchurch.

Where To From Here?
Hopefully, this report has given you some insight into a small part of decorating your home. It may also have prompted a whole new set of questions.

To get all of the answers you need, simply give me, Kristina Cope, a call on (09) 578-0704 or (021)-641-530 to schedule your free, no-hassle, straight talk consultation. I will arrange a time convenient for you, and it shouldn’t take long at all.

In about 30 minutes, you’ll receive more time and money saving interior design, decorating information than most people learn in a lifetime!

By now, you’ve probably figured out that I am not like most Interior Designers or Architects. (I am qualified in both fields). I concentrate on providing quality information to those who need it.

“But why would you just give away all of this valuable information?”

I know that you may be asking that question in your mind. I know it’s not what most Interior Designers do, and it may seem a little odd. It’s just that I have learned that good things happen when you concentrate on really helping people.

Yes, I make my living consulting to clients as their interior designer, and yes, it would be my pleasure to work for you to transform your house into a home you love to bring friends, business associates, and guests’ home to.


A half-hour is all it takes to get the information you need to make smart decisions for your future. We'll discuss what you want to accomplish, and look at the different options that you have.

Well, I’ve said just about all I can say. The next step is up to you. As I said before, there is absolutely no cost or obligation attached to your free consultation.

Pick up the phone and call me now, while you are thinking about it. I know that you may be a little skeptical, but one phone call isn’t much to risk, especially when you could save yourself lots of aggravation and thousands of dollars!

You can reach me at (09) 578-0704 or (021)-641-530, or send me an email with some suggested times and dates you are available to get together with me.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Kristina Cope DipInt, BArch
Interior Designer
P.S. Procrastination keeps more people from ever reaching their dreams than anything else. Don’t miss out on information that can make all the difference!