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Looking after the exterior

In our last gazette article we talked about the importance of decluttering and keeping the house clean, but what about the exterior?

Whether you have a quarter-acre section or a small patio there are important things to do to make sure the exterior of your house and section are well maintained. All buildings require ongoing maintenance, and it is the responsibility of the building owner to ensure it is carried out in a timely manner.

What to think about

One of the main problems with New Zealand homes is the amount of moisture that collects and stays inside. Damp homes are unhealthy and harder to heat.


Once a year you should check your roof cladding, chimneys and flashings (waterproofing strips that protect vulnerable areas) to ensure problems are not developing. Things to look for include flashings that have corroded or lifted and crumbling chimney mortar.  Check with the manufacturer of your roofing material to find out about any special maintenance requirements. For example, paint-on membranes must be re-coated every 7-10 years.

Drains and gutters

Gutters are vital roofing components; they direct water away from the house in order to effectively preserve the non-waterproof elements of the structure. You can prevent the proliferation of moulds in your house by effectively directing water away from it and keeping vulnerable structural components as dry as possible even during the wet months. Moulds are health hazards (they can cause skin irritations and respiratory issues) and they thrive in wet or moist places. Guttering and spouting need to be cleaned out at least once a year as leaves can easily collect and block them. Blocked and damaged drains can cause serious flooding so it’s important to contact a professional drain cleaner as soon as you become aware of any problems.


Make sure you check the outside of your house of any wear and tear, especially before winter. There may may be rotting weatherboards, cracks in the plaster or bricks on the exterior that could compromise the weather tightness of your property.


Plants and trees have the potential to do a lot of damage to the exterior of your house. It is a good idea, before you buy a tree to look at the shade pattern it’ll have when it’s grown and also know it’s final height. It is important to know if once it’s fully grown it’s going to be a problem with roofs and gutters. Tree roots can cause clay (earthenware) drainage pipes to crack, so take care where you plant trees with extensive root systems.

Balconies and decks

Enclosed decks and balconies require good design and regular maintenance to ensure adequate drainage. They should be built with a slope to allow water to run off to a collection point such as a downpipe. Keep drainage outlets clear of leaves and other items that might block them.

Balconies enclosed with solid walls often suffer weathertightness problems and need to be frequently checked for signs of rotting, swelling, cracks and rust around bolts and flashings.

DIY or Professionals needed?

You may be able to do basic maintenance and repairs, like painting or replacing a broken window, but you need to be realistic about your limits. It might be better to hire a tradesperson and get the job done properly the first time.

By law, a professional needs to do some jobs such as gas, plumbing, drainage and some electrical work. You need a licensed building practitioner to do or supervise any building work that affects the primary structure, weathertightness or fire safety of the building.

To find a professional in your area take a look at some options here on Eldernet. 

About Eve Williams

Eve Williams is the Content Developer and Social Media Administration for Eldernet. She is currently studying towards her Masters at the University of Canterbury. She has a passion for learning new things.