Leaky homes are still being discovered and most likely still being built.  If you discover that you have an issue with leaks you need to get a qualified builder to advise on the leaks right away before the situation gets worse.

You also need to act quickly because there are time limits for bringing claims.  The time limit that applies will be the shorter of six years from when the problem was reasonably discoverable or 10 years from when the work or omission took place.  If you are getting close to the time limit then put in a claim to the Weathertight Homes Tribunal (WHT) urgently.  Lodging a claim stops the time limit running for the Tribunal.

If you want to bring a Court claim, a separate claim must be filed in the appropriate Court to stop the time limit running against the parties you name in the claim.

To file a claim in the WHT you need to complete a form and pay the filing fee.  Once your claim is filed and served on all the other parties (such as the builder, architect, roofer, window supplier, previous owners, building certifier/local Council etc) there will be a conference call with the Tribunal to discuss the next steps.  These steps include discovery of relevant paperwork, other parties being joined and a preliminary hearing to ascertain which of the contractors did what work.

Once the preliminary steps are finished claims usually go to mediation, to see if agreement can be reached on a resolution.  If there is no resolution the claim proceeds to a hearing, which may also involve a conference of experts to see if there is agreement on the cause of the problems and the costs of putting it right.

After the hearing any party can appeal to the High Court.

A claim can only be made to the Weathertight Homes Tribunal after an application to the Weathertight Resolution Service for an assessor’s report and the claim is found to be eligible.

As an alternative to the WHT a claimant can take the case to the Courts.  If the damages are under $350,000 the case can go to the District Court.  Over that limit the case is to the High Court.  Similar steps will be taken to progress the matter to a hearing.

Along the way you will need expert evidence to support the claim.  This will relate to who caused the problem and how much it will cost to fix.

After the hearing any party can appeal the decision.

The WHT only has jurisdiction to deal with weathertight issues so if the defects in your property also include other types of problem (e.g. structural defects or failure to comply with specifications) then you need to bring the claim in Court rather than the WHT.

Both the WHT and Court processes can take a long time (the WHT can be quicker than the Courts) so you need to be prepared for the long haul and a significant investment in expert help, both legal advice and from building professionals.

Alan Knowsley