Leaky homes – $22bn to fix?

by frog

We’ve all known about the leaky homes fiasco for a long time now, but for me (and the government, it sounds like!) the scale has only just sunk in, after reading an article in the NZ Herald this morning.

A few choice tidbits:

The vast majority – between 80 and 100 per cent – of homes built with monolithic claddings (seamless-looking sheets finished with paint or plaster) would fail within 15 years.

I’m not sure what the difference is between a house simply leaking and a house ‘failing’, but failing sounds worse, doesn’t it? Whatever it is, it’s 80 – 100%.

90 per cent of apartments, terraced houses and other multi-unit homes built between 1992 and 2005 would leak badly at some point.

The average cost of recladding a leaky home has reached $300,000.

So there you have it. Do not buy a house built since 1990, and if you do, have $300,000 ready – 90% chance you’ll need it. Our society ‘forgot’ how to make houses for 15 years, even though making houses is pretty much the only productive industry we have left, apart from cattle.

90 per cent of multi-unit legal claims were stalled because owners could not afford to pay their fees to lawyers and building experts.

Well that sounds dysfunctional. I’ll mention this again later.

The NZ Herald article is based on a report from PWC which puts the cost at around $11bn (how much we spent on education each year) but potentially up to $22bn (how much we spend on health each year). Building industry experts favour the higher figure, according to the article. In any case this would be difficult to pay for even during sunny economic weather.

The minister for building and construction, Maurice Williamson had this to say on the subject of $11 bn:

It’s simply ginormous.

Yes, yes it is! Not as ginormous as $22 bn though, is it!? He follows that up with:

[The government] has to just sit there with its head in its hands, saying, ‘Well, I just don’t [know] how to do this’

At least he’s honest.

If national and local government can’t afford to bail home owners out and if home owners can’t afford the lawyers necessary to get bailed out, where does that leave us? New Zealand’s own subprime crisis?

frog says

Published in Economy, Work, & Welfare | Featured by frog on Sat, February 27th, 2010   

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