Although your building contractor and cladding company have responsibility under the law for faulty installations or defects, the responsibility of maintaining your exterior cladding falls to you.
It’s vital you carry out critical maintenance tasks, or the crisp, modern look of your home could be spoiled. Worse still, without maintenance, cladding can deteriorate to the point it creates weathertightness issues – a problem you absolutely do not want.
So what critical maintenance tasks should you carry out in order to avoid weathertightness issues with your external cladding?
CLadding Maintenance instructions
Since 2015, your building contractors or suppliers are legally obligated to inform you of the maintenance requirements of your chosen cladding under the Building Act. The idea behind this was that by making homeowners more aware of the maintenance required for the products they’ve chosen, there would be fewer weathertightness issues caused by owner neglect.
Although most exterior cladding systems in New Zealand are advertised as “low-maintenance”, this depends on your personal definition of “low.” Many products require repainting every 7-10 years – even less if you live in a coastal region or extreme wind zone, and cedar products require staining every few years to maintain their finish.
Many building companies will also provide a seasonal maintenance guide for your entire home, which will outline the different tasks you’ll need to perform for all areas of the home (including roof, guttering, cladding, windows, etc) and will detail specific instructions for your chosen products.
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Critical maintenance is the work that absolutely must be done if you want to continue to live in a warm, dry home. It is up to your designer/builder to inform you about the critical maintenance requirements of your particular cladding system.
At minimum, you should be:
- Cleaning and re-coating face-seals regularly. If your cladding system includes face-seal coatings, it’s imperative these are maintained. If not, the cladding material can absorb water and fail.
- Ensuring window head flashings and other critical head flashings are not leaking. These need to be working perfectly in order to correctly direct the flow of water over penetrations.
- Checking exposed sealant joints. These are present in some cladding systems, and will stop water seeping through critical junctions … but only if they’re functioning perfectly.
Identifying potential issues
Performing maintenance on your cladding and other areas of your home is also a good opportunity to identify potential issues. As a building ages, different problems can occur, and locating them early and undergoing preventative work could save you a bundle of money and headaches later on.
Some buildings are at particular risk of developing problems (such as watertightness issues). These include home designs that use monolithic face-sealed exteriors, parapets, excessive balustrades, and minimal protection from eaves.
Make note of areas where future issues might arise. Keep a logbook for your home maintenance that you can update each year with notes on what tasks you’ve completed.
Do you understand the critical maintenance that you need to undertake to ensure your cladding remains watertight? Learn more about the building process in our handy Homeowner's handbook for building a new home.