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  Maintenance and repairs undertaken by householders

Gathering data on the maintenance and repair of the New Zealand housing stock is a key component of the House Condition Survey. This includes both the surveyor’s assessment of condition, state of repair and presence of defects, but also the householder’s reported repair and maintenance activity. The latter is recorded as part of the telephone interview with a household occupant. Householders are asked if there had been any painting, repairs or replacements to any parts of their house within the last 12 months. 

Results from the 2015/16 survey show 30% of households had done some repair or maintenance work over the previous 12 months. This work included painting, repairing or replacing a variety of external and interior property features such as bathroom fittings and windows. 

Deferred maintenance

While 30% of houses had seen some repair or maintenance work undertaken in the last 12 months, 30% had deferred maintenance. That means, someone in the house or, in the case of rentals someone else, had decided to delay or defer some maintenance. 

Half the households said cost was the reason for delaying work. For over one-quarter of houses, the required maintenance was not deemed serious and therefore could wait.

For tenants, the same reasons were often quoted but referring to their landlord or property manager. Someone else made the decision to defer work due to cost or it not being a priority.  

A comparison of reported maintenance activity with the assessors rating of the overall state of repair of the property shows a higher proportion of those that deferred maintenance were observed to be poorly maintained overall, compared to those that did not report any deferred maintenance. 

Maintenance in last 12 months.jpg 

Figure 3. Assessors rating of overall assessment of state of repair and householders reported deferred maintenance. [Source: BRANZ House Condition Survey 2015/16] 

Impacts of deferred maintenance 

Deferring maintenance on features that need repair has implications for the overall condition of the property and the longer-term costs to repair. 

Results showed 7% of dwellings had at least one feature in serious condition and 39% had one or more components in poor condition.  Roofs and wall cladding were two of the most common features to be in these poorer states of repair, though this did vary between the owner-occupied and rental stock. 

Over time, minor defects can deteriorate and accumulate. Further analysis and modelling has been undertaken on the 2015/16 House Condition Survey to estimate the costs of repairs needed for houses in their assessed state and the costs of doing nothing. 

This analysis used the condition ratings of 26 different features of the house recorded in the survey and estimated unit costs to bring that feature from its current state to ‘as new’ condition. The results found the average cost of required maintenance to bring the house up to as new condition was about $13,000 per house. The amount is slightly higher for rentals and lower for owner-occupied housing.  

The rate of deterioration, and therefore the cost of deferring maintenance, depends on the type of material, environmental conditions and the occupants’ use of the building. Using approximate estimations of the rate of deterioration from one condition rating to the next (box 1) indicates that delayed maintenance adds an average of $2,300 per year to the overall cost of repair. 

Estimates of time in years for a house feature to deteriorate from one condition state to a lower state of repair

 - condition 2 (poor) to condition 1 (serious) takes 2 years
 - condition 3 (moderate) to 2 (poor) takes 5 years
 - condition 4 (good) to 3 (moderate) takes 10 years
 - condition 5 (excellent) to 4 (good) takes 10 years.  

Above: Box 1

Cost for delayed maintenance.jpg 
Figure 4. Rising cost for delayed maintenance [Source: BRANZ House Condition Survey 2015/16].

Housing condition
Ventilation and moisture control
Mould and damp
Comparing 2015 results with 2010
2015 survey report and Warm, dry, healthy report

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