Queenstown tops suspect homes list

More than 1600 buildings are at risk in the lower half of the South Island as the rotting homes crisis deepens.

Top tourist destination Queenstown has the highest number of suspect buildings - 1193.

Local Government New Zealand also identified 158 at risk buildings in the Southland district, 100 in Invercargill, 93 in Clutha, 80 in Central Otago and 56 in Gore.

Local Government environment manager John Hutchings said yesterday the information came from Statistics New Zealand and related to the total number of building permits for each local authority.

Homes most at risk were those with monolithic cladding, untreated timber, no eves, no wall-draining cavity and those which used sealants rather than flashings on external cladding joins, Mr Hutchings said.

However, just because cases had been identified in the South Island did not mean the emphasis had shifted there.

"The highest number of cases will be where the most growth has occurred in the past few years and that has been particularly around Auckland and Tauranga."

The Government's "weathertightness" freecall service had 540 calls to its help desk in its first fortnight, of which half were from Auckland, North Shore, Manukau and Waitakere, 94 from Wellington, 36 from Christchurch, 34 from Tauranga and the remainder from other centres.

Christchurch lawyer Geoff Langham, of Lane Neave, said yesterday that South Islanders who had thought the rotting homes crisis affected only the North Island were beginning to realise their homes could also be at risk.

"They were hoping to bury their heads in the sand about this," said Mr Langham, who is acting for owners of eight leaking homes located from Queenstown to north of Christchurch.

Mr Langham has joined Auckland lawyer Paul Grimshaw of law firm Cairns Slane to represent a new leaky home victims group in which about 600 Auckland home owners are claiming $10 million in damages.

Meanwhile, developers are modifying housing projects.

Developers of the $50 million Harbourside residential development of more than 100 houses in Kaiwharawhara, Wellington, will use weatherboard cladding, turning away from modern claddings linked with leaky buildings.

In central Auckland, the window fittings of David Henderson's 187-unit Hobson One on the corner of Hobson and Fanshawe Sts have been tested with waterblasters to ensure they are leakproof.

Dominion Fund's 78-unit Viaduct Point at the Viaduct Harbour is being promoted as being built from concrete and steel and not prone to leaks.

And Tim Manning of Taradale Properties said last month that he had modified $100 million worth of projects in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Queenstown, altering the design and materials used in housing developments.

Homeowners hit by the leaky building crisis will receive free, independent assessment of their claims through the weathertight homes resolution service.

Homeowners are being encouraged to ring 0800-116-926 to register.

But Mr Grimshaw has challenged the effectiveness of the service.

"The service will not be able to advise owners on legal issues," he said. People would still need to consult a lawyer and pay fees.