Full cladding replacement

A full reclad is where all existing cladding is removed from the building, the condition of framing is fully exposed and assessed, all damaged framing is replaced, remaining framing can be treated in situ and new cladding is installed typically over a drained and vented cavity.

In this project involving a full reclad over a cavity after replacement of rotted framing, the windows were removed, refurbished and reinstalled with head flashings that incorporate a stop-end and a modified reveal..

In this project involving a full reclad over a cavity after replacement of rotted framing, the windows were removed, refurbished and reinstalled with head flashings that incorporate a stop-end and a modified reveal.

Full recladding is generally the preferred and most appropriate option because of the benefits that it provides (as discussed below), but it may not be warranted where damage is from a specific localised identifiable cause, is contained and is relatively minor. 

Before committing to a full reclad and based on specialist advice, consider these questions:

  • Are the leaks and damage significant enough to warrant a full reclad (or does the owner require the building to be reclad to remove stigma)?
  • Is the existing timber framing treated or untreated? If treated, to what level?
  • Does the owner want the building to meet current Acceptable Solution weathertightness detailing? All new building work carried out must comply with the New Zealand Building Code to the extent required by the Building Act.
  • Is a Code compliance certificate being withheld?

Advantages of full recladding

A full reclad provides:

  • the ability to identify and repair all consequential damage (to framing, linings, flooring, waterproof decks, balustrades, insulation and so on) and carry out necessary replacement and repairs – without removal of cladding, some damage may not be discovered
  • the ability to identify water leakage and damage not identified in the building reports
  • an opportunity to upgrade to current Building Code external moisture requirements and to apply current E2/AS1 details that include incorporating a cavity and treatment of framed openings
  • the ability to site treat untreated sound timber
  • an opportunity to replace flashings with those meeting current E2/AS1 requirements
  • the ability to:
    • change the cladding type, for example, replacing monolithic cladding with weatherboards
    • remove at-risk features such as parapets, reverse-slope eaves, raked window heads or cantilevered decks
    • add eaves overhangs
  • greater likelihood that a Code compliance certificate will be readily issued on completion provided the building is remediated as consented and any amendments to the consent are recorded and approved by the BCA
  • improved marketability and value because a documented remediation process has been followed
  • an opportunity to incorporate additional weathertightness risk reduction features into the cladding design and building envelope
  • an opportunity to complete other work that is required to address problems identified as the work proceeds
  • removal of stigma – future purchasers consider anything less than full recladding a 'lemon'
  • the lowest risk exposure (of all remediation options) to both the owner and the designer.

For monolithic-clad buildings with face-fixed cladding, full recladding is often the most appropriate solution to address and achieve on-going weathertightness performance. 

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Disadvantages of full recladding

A full reclad:

  • may turn out to be more extensive and expensive than what was actually needed
  • may significantly disrupt living patterns as it is recommended that dwellings be vacated during remediation – this generally allows the builder to work more effectively as they don’t have to work around the owner, and it also reduces potential risk to the occupants’ health from toxic mould that may be present
  • may take longer than other remediation options
  • requires the removal, dry storage and reinstallation or replacement of windows, cabinetry and elements such as showers or wet area linings that are adjacent to an external wall
  • may not allow for the installation of a cavity for any wall built hard to the boundary
  • is not being seen as necessary where damage is determined to be the result of a specific identifiable cause and is contained to a specific area of the building.

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Other considerations

During a full reclad, it may be necessary to consider:

  • providing shelter to the existing structure to limit additional wetting when the cladding is removed
  • specifying the installation of temporary spouting and downpipes to reduce the potential for wetting the walls being rebuilt
  • if possible, designing out complicated junctions or removing at-risk features
  • allowing time for wet (but not decayed) framing to dry – where contract periods are short, it may be economic to replace such timber because of the time delay in allowing it to dry
  • the opportunity for changes to be made to the building to improve future saleability, for example, new joinery with double glazing, different claddings and removal of high-risk low-value features.

Updated: 16 November 2023