Homeowners will usually seek to recover the cost of repairing leaky homes from builders, architects/designers, local councils and others with a role in the original design, construction and consenting of the house or apartment.

Homeowners wanting to take action should talk to their lawyer(s). Options include:

  • Negotiation – the parties (and/or their representatives) sit down and talk with each other to try and reach an agreement.
  • Mediation – a consensual, confidential and relatively informal negotiation process where a skilled and independent third-party mediator is brought in.
  • Arbitration – a formal dispute resolution process where parties agree to use an independent arbitrator. The process is governed by the Arbitration Act 1996. An arbitrator’s decision, called an award, is binding on the parties and is enforceable in court.
  • Litigation – using the court system. It is a last resort, being expensive – costs commonly run into tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Complex and bitterly fought cases can take years to complete. There are also time limits on when litigation is possible. The Limitation Act 2010 allows for claims to be filed up to three years after a “late knowledge date”, which applies where a claimant was not initially aware of the act or omission which caused the weathertightness failure. There is a final limit when using the late knowledge date of 15 years after the act or omission was carried out. Claims cannot be made after this.