Weathertight remediation: A quick introduction for builders


This article will be looking at some of the considerations when tendering for a re-cladding project. I will be sharing some of the expensive lessons I have learnt remediating hundreds of New Zealand homes.
In the current market where rates and margins are being squeezed, it is even more important that we are aware of what we are getting into, and that we minimise the unknowns so we can preserve our margin.

Let’s face it, the market is largely price driven, so in order to try to level the playing field with other builders less experienced in tendering, it’s important to be clear about what has and hasn’t been allowed for and why.
This alerts the designer and client to things they may not have considered, and that other tenders may not have included. This helps minimise variations and unknown costs blowing the budget, and reduces the chances of a dispute.

Clearly outlining timelines allowed for each section of the build process assists not only with internal pricing clarity, but also with extension of time claims, considering the common downtime that can occur on such projects as various parties document the building failures or are waiting on remediation design clarifications.
Site access and storage can be more challenging on remediation projects due to the nature of the works and the fact that the site is mature with neighbours, fences, landscaping and possibly a swimming pool.

These, along with the scaffolding set-up, have a critical impact on site productivity and, therefore, a builder’s bottom line, and are rarely covered in a set of contract documents.
Careful consideration of the distance at which scaffolding is set up from the building for easy removal, and reinstatement of the cladding and windows as well as access points, can make a significant difference to on-site efficiency.

Plan carefully when the most effective time will be to erect the scaffolding if concrete nibs are to be installed or decks re-laid and waterproofed.
Has time been allowed to frequently empty water from and re-tie the tarpaulins and side mesh to the scaffolding after inclement weather over the project’s many weeks? Will there be scaffolding changes required during the project?

The use of contractors for parts of the project such as cladding removal not only fixes a difficult to quantify cost (especially tip site unfriendly EFIS), it also means a messy and unpopular job is not being done by site staff.
Contract documents may or may not mention the re-use of some items such as spouting, insulation or downpipes. But how practical is this with the new cavity cladding thickness and damage-free storage? Are roof extensions required or thought of? Will the stormwater downpipe risers have to be moved?

The new cladding thickness and weathertightness details will probably result in the windows having to be re-installed and re-jammed, with some territorial authorities requiring the sealing and re-mitering of re-used joinery.
In these cases, can a 15-year durability warranty be provided or is a better long term solution to replace the windows with new ones?

Other issues that need to be considered are: 
• Will additional framing need to be installed for a new cladding system? 
• The need to straighten an existing structure to meet any new cladding warranty requirements is difficult to determine pre-start.
• Non-compliant work discovered during remediation is commonplace. How has this been allowed for?

Preliminary and general costs are often significantly higher than on standard projects. The additional paperwork, supervision, liaising with the various experts (including both the client’s and potential defendants’) and the collection of detailed information on the cost breakdown of each of the building points of failure can take significant time and money.
Due to the nature of the works, making good can be a major potential cost and cause of dispute. This can be reduced with a thoroughly documented pre-start survey.

Whether the client is staying during the works can have a considerable impact on the project in many ways, which we will investigate in future articles.
In this instance, cleaning the affected areas every day because a client is living there can accrue a significant cost. What is the client’s expectation regarding a third party warranty, and can it be provided?
If a builder allows for all of this will they get the job, because other tenderers may not have? If they don’t, and these costs are going to be incurred, do they really want the job?

Wrap up:
The next article, written by Geoff Hardy from Madison Hardy Lawyers, will be about managing your risks from a legal standpoint.

Suggested follow-up areas for more information:
• Building & Housing web site: 
• The B & H publications
• Guide to Remediation Design
• Guide to the Diagnosis of Leaky Buildings
• Dealing with Timber in Leaky Buildings

• About the author: Harry Dillon has been involved with the repair of more than 300 homes as a builder over the past 10 years. This article represents Harry’s views which may not necessarily be the same as the Ministry’s.

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