How much does it cost to re-clad your home on a basic budget in New Zealand?

When it comes to cladding, perception can be everything. Due to the leaky building crisis, there's still a widespread wariness around the 'chilly bin' houses from the 1990s – even those that have been given the all-clear. So whether you're ready to reclad – or just curious to know what's involved – we provide you with the basic recladding costs.

Basic home re-cladding
ARTICLE Libby Schultz IMAGE Abodo/Jeremey Toth

How much does basic recladding cost?

If you’re recladding the likes of a sturdy state house, or a trusty brick-and-tile, your renovation project is likely to be straightforward. But even with a low-risk home, there’s still a chance you’ll find more than you bargained for.
The first thing to know about recladding costs is that your renovation consultant probably can’t give you a 100% fixed price upfront. There are several factors that affect the cost – and only some of them are known from the outset.
Firstly, of course, there’s the size of your home. A simple one-level home will be more cost-effective to reclad than one with multiple storeys or a complex design. You’ll also pay more if your home is situated on a steep or tricky site, because it will need more extensive scaffolding.
Cost will also depend on the amount of remedial work needed. The moment of truth arrives when you strip back your existing cladding, and reveal the state of the framing underneath. Either your existing framing is in good shape, or it needs replacing.
This is the single biggest factor that can affect the cost – and it’s also the biggest unknown.

What is the leaky home syndrome and why did it happen?

The 1990s was a dark period in the New Zealand construction industry – a time when monolithic plaster cladding, poor design, and shoddy building practices resulted in a perfect storm.
The dreaded leaky home syndrome continues to haunt us today; with even the hint of a moisture problem striking fear into the hearts of homeowners and buyers alike.
“Clients are telling us they want to get away from the stigma of plaster, whether it’s leaky or not,” say our Refresh Renovations Builders.
According to property consultancy Prendos, the year your house was built can provide clues to your level of risk. For any home built before 1990, there’s a low/moderate risk. The risk becomes ‘high’ between 1990-1997; ‘very high’ between 1998-2004; and reverts back to low/moderate after 2004.
“You won’t know for sure that your framing is sound until the framing has been exposed. And if you come across anything that isn’t up to Code, it will have to be rectified.”
In one of Refresh's projects, the owners of a potentially leaky home had previously received the all-clear from their testing company.
“The owners still wanted to get rid of the plaster…and when we took the cladding off, a lot of the timber was in fact damaged and had to be replaced.”
Timber rotting behind cladding

What are the costs involved in recladding?

Moisture-testing can never accurately predict the condition of the framing underneath, given that it’s done on a spot-testing basis. So when preparing estimates for clients, Refresh always includes a calculation for the ‘worst-case scenario’ of having to replace all the timber.
As a very broad guideline, an average cost to replace all the timber, including labour, is around $10,000 per elevation.
So that’s approximately $40,000 for a one-storey home, and $80,000 for a two-storey home.
The more common scenario, though, is that only a proportion of the timber needs replacing. Any timber that is wet, decaying, mouldy (or displaying black spores) will have to go. You might have seen the ‘pink-tagged’ framing on building sites.
“Once the framing is exposed, we engage an independent timber consultant who inspects it, and tags the timber that needs to come out,” our renovation builder explains.
“After that’s replaced, we have to inject the new timber and all the existing remaining timber with a preservative compound.”
Workers re-cladding second storey of home

Do I need Building Consent for my recladding project?

As you’d expect, you will need Building Consent for your recladding project. You’ll need to budget somewhere between $5,000-$10,000 for this.
You can also expect more paperwork. Regardless of your reasons for recladding (leaky home or not), Councils pay particular attention to the standard of work done.
Auckland Council, for instance, has set up a specialist recladding team that handles all these projects. They carry out a thorough inspection process before awarding the Code of Compliance.
Due to the workload of the Council inspection teams, these visits can involve a wait of 2-3 weeks. Mis-timing these inspections is a common pitfall for first-time renovators, says Ben King, a construction manager with Refresh Renovations.
“You don’t want to be tools-down for two weeks while you wait for your inspection to happen.” 
“An experienced project manager knows to pre-book the inspections, then communicate with the builders to keep progress on track.”

If it looks like your project might be a bit more than anticipated, it is worth reading mid-range and high-end recladding costs to see the additional benefits you can get out of a higher-end recladding job.

Note: Prices are rough approximations only and Refresh Renovations cannot be held accountable for their accuracy. All prices in this article are exclusive of installation costs and any variations unless otherwise noted.

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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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