There is a lot of negativity toward monolithic plaster cladding from many sectors, with most people's actual knowledge being very limited and quite often gathered from what they have heard through the media, which is worse case scenario.
There are a lot of monolithic clad properties whose designs are inherently flawed and have resulted in significant moisture ingress and damage. In these situations the cost to repair is not economically feasible, resulting in the property requiring re-cladding.
There are however many monolithic plaster clad properties which, through good design, flashing details and good maintenance, have good weather-tightness with no significant defects or damage.
In these cases probably the biggest consideration is when you come to sell the property. There will be a lot of negativity and apprehension from perspective buyers, with there friends and Lawyers advising them not to purchase monolithic plaster cladding for no reason other than it being monolithic plaster cladding, probably the same as you are experiencing buying monolithic cladding.
Another consideration is maintenance, plaster cladding requires regular scheduled maintenance and checks to ensure it retains good weather-tightness. Specialist Inspections recommend an annual weather-tightness inspection during the winter months.
Another consideration is if the property develops a moisture ingress issue do you have you the funding to carry out repairs? In our experience you can not rely on banks to top up your mortgage to carry out repairs caused by leaks, which often leaves owners in a very unfortunate situation where they can not afford to carry out repairs and can not sell there property due to moisture damage - Even if the damage is isolated and repairable as is usually the case.
With all this negativity and uncertainty why would anyone buy monolithic plaster cladding? Quite simply if you want a nice house in a certain area on a fixed budget, monolithic plaster cladding is your only option. The price difference between weather-boards and monolithic plaster cladding is usually substantial, often $2-$300K, meaning you get substantially more house for your dollar with monolithic plaster cladding.
Specialist Inspections are only interested in facts, the condition of the property on the day of inspection, the type of cladding system on the property, identifying any particular attributes (risk areas) and importantly recording any moisture ingress or damage the property has. Our goal is to supply you with the information required to make an informed decision on whether to purchase the property.
You will not get general comments about monolithic plaster cladding which is not even installed on the property inspected, or references to today's building requirement which are not applicable to the property being inspected.
Specialist Inspections are fully aware that the condition of the property is only one of the considerations that need to be factored into buying a property. Price, Location, and Schools are some of the other factors which need to be taken into consideration when buying a property, it is for these reasons that Specialist Inspections do not offer advise on whether to purchase a property or not.
It is important that monolithic plaster clad properties are inspected on a case by case basis.
Taking into consideration that there are three key elements that are required for decay to be initiated and sustained, Moisture, Temperature and Nutrients (timber), and taking into account that it does not rain in Auckland for 365 days of the year. It is fair to assume that if a property has moisture ingress issues that deterioration will be isolated to during the wet months and prolonged wet periods.
Damage to monolithic cladding is usually through a gradual deterioration over a number of years.
Usually the issues we find with monolithic plaster cladding are isolated, identifiable and repairable.
Issues with monolithic plaster cladding are usually from an architectural detail fault (ie Parapet walls with internal gutters) or an application fault (deck boundary joist fixed directly against the cladding) and/or poor or incorrect maintenance especially around joinery.
Specialist Inspections recommends that exterior painting of monolithic plaster cladding is carried out by suitably qualified licenced tradesman experienced in the repair and painting of monolithic plaster cladding systems. References are provided on request.
Treated timber can take years for significant damage to occur, as opposed to untreated or Kiln dried timber which damage can occur in a matter of months, making timber treatment a serious consideration when purchasing monolithic plaster cladding properties.
There are a number of different monolithic plaster cladding systems, with the EIFS systems in our opinion the better of the monolithic plaster cladding systems.
There are a number of different monolithic plaster cladding systems with the EIFS systems having significantly better weather-tightness attributes than Texture Coated Fibre Cement (TCFC) also referred to as Hardies, which in our opinion is the most problematic of the monolithic cladding systems.
examples of particular attributes are
Internal decks have there own particular attributes which need to identified
- Poor ground to cladding clearances
- Parapet walls with no camber and/or cap flashings
- Deck boundary joists fixed directly against the cladding. (more problematic with TCFC than EIFS systems)
- Recessed windows
- Window sills with no camber
- Roof to Wall junctions with no Kick Out Flashing
- No eaves or soffits
- Internal gutters
- Deck water-proofing thresholds
- Deck to cladding clearances
- Deck parapet walls with no camber or cap flashing
It is important that you are aware of Particular Attributes. That is why under the NZS:4306 it is specified that they are included in your builders report.
There are a number of companies advertising that they carry out inspections to NZS4306 but do NOT have professional indemnity insurance and do NOT identify particular attributes and are not supplying you with all the information required to make an informed decision when purchasing monolithic plaster cladding.
Identification of particular attributes enables you as a prospective purchaser through awareness of the areas to assess any risk involved. It also gives you the purchaser the information to plan risk management of the areas in the form of preventative maintenance and/or regular routine checks and regular scheduled maintenance.
Specialist Inspections are frequently asked to do Thermal Imaging and/or Moisture Testing inspections as stand alone inspections. Specialist Inspections will only do Thermal Imaging and Moisture Testing in Conjunction with a Full Builders Report.
Thermal Imaging and Moisture Testing are NOT STAND ALONE Inspections, and will not pick up high risk areas which could be hidden by furniture and damage to the sub-floor floor caused by particular attributes like poor ground to cladding clearances and deck perimeter joists fixed directly against the cladding.
Ensure that your inspection for plaster cladding includes
- Full comprehensive Builders Report
- Particular Attribute Identification
- Moisture testing
- Infrared Thermal Imaging Inspection
SPPI Inspectors will supply you with a detailed comprehensive written report substantiated with photographs and facts highlighting
Not all remedial work is difficult or expensive, and in some cases can be carried out by a home handyman.
- Particular Attributes
- Areas of Concern
- Reason for the concern
- Remedial work required
- Preventative Maintenance recommendations
Because our Inspection is Non-Invasive in a lot of cases further investigation will be required to determine the amount of damage and the degree and scope of remedial work required.
When this is the case it will be clearly stated in your report.
If particular attributes identified during our inspection are addressed and with regular scheduled exterior house painting and maintenance most plaster cladding can be kept in good overall weather-tightness.
There are Elastromeric paints and sealants which have been specifically designed for plaster cladding which significantly increases the weather-tightness of plaster cladding.
Specialist Inspection recommend that exterior painting is carried out by licensed plaster cladding repair and painting specialist.