Dealing with defects, if any, and making sure the client understands what maintenance they should carry out are key parts of the follow-up after work on site is complete.
After the job is finished, specific information and documents must be given to the client, regardless of the value of the building work:
- A copy of any insurance policy still in place for the building work.
- Copies of guarantees or warranties for building materials or services. This must including details about how to lodge a claim, whether any guarantee/warranty is transferable and whether or not any guarantee/warranty must be completed and sent back to the supplying company.
- Details about the maintenance required, especially where this is necessary to meet Building Code requirements or for a guarantee or warranty to remain valid.
If a homeowner notifies a contractor in writing of any defects within 12 months of the completion of the building work, the contractor must fix the defects within a reasonable timeframe. The 12-month period applies to all residential building work regardless of value.
The homeowner can take action for up to 10 years after building work is completed if warranties in the Building Act have not been met. This applies whether or not there is a written contract or what the contract says.
See the page Contracts and consumer protection for more details.
Although many building materials and systems today are sold as “low maintenance”, most still require some type of maintenance to remain durable and perform well, even if this is just an occasional cleaning. Many wall cladding systems, for example, have specific maintenance requirements to ensure they remain weathertight over the long term. Maintenance may be required for the warranty to remain valid.
Although the responsibility for carrying out this maintenance rests with the homeowner, contractors must explain to homeowners what work is required (see Information handover above) and the potential consequences of not carrying it out. Building practitioners can benefit from houses being well maintained because this may result in fewer call-backs and their work performing well and looking good for a much longer period of time.
General areas of exterior maintenance are:
- clearing roof gutters
- inspecting roof flashings/membranes/claddings
- cleaning and recoating roof finishes
- cleaning and recoating wall claddings
- inspecting window and door flashings and glass seals
- inspecting and replacing sealants
- inspecting construction gaps and keeping them clear
- keeping ventilation clear under suspended floors.
Good maintenance is critical with certain materials or systems, including:
- face seal coatings on some cladding systems. These must be regularly cleaned and recoated for weathertight performance
- critical sealant joints on some cladding systems. Exposed sealant joints are fundamental in stopping water penetrating critical junctions
- critical flashings, such as window head flashings, which ensure that water is deflected over a penetration in the cladding.
Homeowners should keep an eye out for indications of problems that require immediate action, including:
- cracks, splits or open joints in cladding
- sealant that has come loose
- metal corrosion
- raised flashings
- gaps at the ends of flashings
- rotten timber
- cupped or buckled weatherboards
- loose-fitting cover boards, scribers or plugs
- missing roof fixings or holes in the roof
- overflowing spouting
- gaps in junctions between different materials or building features
- gaps around cantilevered deck joists or other cladding penetrations
- gaps around window seals or sashes
- joints or mitres that have opened up or where the paint has cracked
- water ponding on a roof or membrane deck surface
- mould on interior walls or ceilings
- stained or dark patches on walls
- gaps appearing between the skirting and the wall
- swollen skirting timber and window or door reveals
- damp or rotten carpet.
For continuing effective performance, devices such as heat pumps and solid fuel burners also require maintenance. Maintenance of these may be a requirement of the device warranty or even the house insurance.
An ideal approach is to provide the homeowner with a maintenance guide or schedule.