Discovering that your apartment building is leaking is a distressing event. Owners are likely to be experiencing a myriad of feelings – anger or shame at being in this situation, blame, even denial that this has happened. The Body Corporate Committee is tasked with the unenviable task of trying to fix a situation that they have no knowledge or skill in.
Unfortunately the situation needs to be resolved as quickly as possible. Delays will only wear you down, possibly weaken any legal claim you may have and could result in the building becoming structurally unsafe and unhealthy.
In general it is one or two owners who initially have concerns about the weathertightness of their apartments while the remaining owners are unaware of any issues. At this stage, the Body Corporate Committee needs to understand the situation and help bring together all owners to accept there is an issue with the building.
It is essential to establish what weathertightness issues the complex is suffering and the effects of these. You need to engage a building consultant with specialist weathertightness knowledge to undertake a thorough investigation of the complex to determine the extent and cause of damage and the effects on the structural integrity of the building(s). Their report will also determine the appropriate level of remedial repairs, as well as the likely costs.
If the Body Corporate Committee has already had a WHRS assessment we would still recommend an independent investigation by a specialist weathertightness expert. In our experience the WHRS assessor’s report often falls well short of identifying the true extent of damage incurred and consequently the scope of repair and associated remedial cost estimates are often far below the true cost of repair.
It is the specialist weathertightness expert’s role to not only assess the damage the buildings have suffered but also to identify the parties who may be responsible.
If you intend to litigate - make a claim through either the Weathertight Homes Tribunal (WHT) or the Courts - it will be the responsibility of your building consultant to act as an expert. In addition to providing evidence on behalf of the body corporate, they will need to be able to refute any arguments the other parties may put up and so must have in-depth knowledge of weathertightness issues and understand the construction defects they can cause.
Once weathertightness issues are discovered it is imperative the body corporate obtain legal advice as to whether they have a claim or not. Under the New Zealand Building Act proceedings must be filed within 10 years of the act or omission giving rise to the claim. They will review the construction and ownership documentation and assess the likely outcome of litigation.
We provide independent information and support on all matters related to homes and housing. If you are experiencing a challenge — whether with a defective building, trouble with a contractor/service provider, or issues within your body corporate, our team can help you.