Buyer beAware: How to spot Weatherside…

All posts / For Buyers / For Sellers / General: Real Estate

Weatherside. One of the claddings you should absolutely be aware of because if poorly maintained, your first home dream could become a nightmare. Here’s how to spot it, how to keep yourself safe when buying a Weatherside home (and what to expect if you are selling one)

What is Weatherside?

You may hear a variety of terms thrown around…Oil tempered hardboard, Weatherside, Pinex Weatherside, compressed composite weatherboards. All describing the same thing.

Weatherside was a common cladding used in the 1970s and 1980s. It can be found throughout Auckland.

Note: Weatherside is a brand name as opposed to the name of the actual material. On this blog we will use the term Weatherside because that is the most frequently used term you will hear in the field and we’re not prepping you for an exam. We’re trying to keep you safe. : )

What’s wrong with it?

If it is well maintained, generally not much. But neglect this cladding at your peril! Cracks, chips and/or failing to paint regularly allow moisture ingress which will cause the affected boards to swell and crumble – thus the industry term ‘Weetbix’.

In the late 1980s the manufacturer discovered that there were big enough problems with this cladding to withdraw it from the market and compensate affected owners, the intention being that owners would use the money to reclad.

It turns out that many compensated owners had other plans for that payout…thus the relatively large number of properties that still retain their original Weatherside cladding. I have seen them in Glen Eden, Te Atatu Peninsula, Massey, Henderson & more…

How to spot Weatherside

This can be a little tricky as the boards look nearly identical to Fibre Cement boards (Fibre Cement is also often referred to as Hardiplank or Fibrolite). Here are couple pics and tips to help you spot it.

TIP 1:Talk to the pros. Agents and building inspectors should be able to help you identify this product. If the agent you are dealing with doesn’t know how, make sure you ask your builder.

TIP 2: Inspect the boards towards the base of the house as this is where damage can often be spotted. Also check for cracking and chipping that will allow you to see the base colour. (ie. around taps). The base colour for Weatherside is brown as it is a timber composite. The base colour for Fibre Cement is grey.

TIP 3:The edge on Weatherside boards is usually beveled (curved). On Fibre Cement the edge is usually flat.

TIP 4:With Weatherside the joiners on planks are usually metal with nails that sit flush with the surface. With Fibre Cement the joiners are usually plastic with nails that protrude slightly.

TIP 5: Keep an eye out for swollen boards. Can you see the swelling along the edge in this pic? If you got up close to those chips and scraped them with the edge of your keys you would be able to see the base colour.

If you are trying to identify cladding make sure you walk around the outside of the entire house. Sometimes Weatherside boards have been replaced with Fibre Cement boards in one small section.

Would I buy a Weatherside property?

The short answer is yes.

For me, it would all depend on the state of the cladding and come down to paying a price appropriate for the condition.

I highlight that point as buyers often struggle to come up with an appropriate discount. I would suggest you establish what it is likely to cost you to attend to any current repairs needed.

Does the house you’re looking at have three rotten boards? Ask the sellers for a huge discount to allow you to fully reclad and they’ll probably tell you to take a hike. Keeping your expectation and requests relative to the extent of the problem will likely get you a fair result.

Bear in mind that a withdrawn cladding triggers disclosure obligations when you go to resell. In plain English: you’ll need to tell your future buyer/s about the cladding. Even if perfectly maintained. And there will be some buyers who will rule your property out because of it.

How do you account for value stigma? That’s a hard one. In many ways, it is accounted for by how much competition you have or do not have from other buyers. Less competition = more negotiating power. Obviously, if a home is stunning and half a dozen buyers are competing with you for it you will have far less negotiating power than if a home has is falling apart and you are the one lone buyer not scared off by it.

What if you already own a Weatherside property?

No need to panic.

If you are not on the market yet, give the exterior a good scan, replace any rotten boards and give it a repaint if it is within 12 months of being due for one. You want your cladding to be and appear immaculately maintained for the market.

Nervous buyers do not pay higher prices….but…if your maintenance is hard to fault you may experience very little in the way of related value stigma or reduced buyer pool.

Has your cladding maintenance really gotten away on you? Perhaps it was that way when you bought and you just never got around to sorting it. Or maybe money is too tight to attend to repairs prior to coming to market?

The Fix

Get a quote from a reputable source to quantify the cost of repairs and present this to buyers in your Property Info Pack. And be mentally prepared to knock that off ‘fair market value’ plus a little extra for the buyer’s trouble.

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The Author

Maria is a veteran Auckland realtor, rookie blogger and long time resident of the West and Nor'west. Maria markets and sells residential and lifestyle property across Auckland and is based at Harcourts Northwest Realty Limited - Licensed REAA 2008